A lot of Tucson's cultural richness is heavily influenced by our neighbors to the south, México. Other Latin American communities—like those of Guatemala or Perú—are pretty small in comparison. Still, at least in the case of Perú, there are a few prideful representations of the South American country. Around town, you've definitely come across some refreshing chicha morada, lomo saltado or delicious papas a la huancaína, a dish symbolic of Perú and their love of potatoes.
When it comes to the popular local music scene, Peruvians haven't gotten the recognition they deserve. Sure, there may be a band or two out there emulating the chicha style—Perú's cumbia-psych blend—and performing mostly covers. But, that music and attitude don't come close to the musical warmth created by Peruvians.
Chicha-reggae band La Inédita is aware that Perú is (still loved but) completely underrepresented, especially in West Coast cities like Tucson. Lima natives and pioneers of a style of music known as chichamuffin, these musicians are just now starting their second U.S. tour since forming back in 2010.
"The reception has been excellent," says Piero Peláez, La Inédita's bass player. "I think we're the first local Peruvian band that's done a tour of this magnitude in the United States. There are few Peruvians. Some people are even surprised to see that a Peruvian band is going to places like New Mexico and Texas. But, little by little, the road is opening...going on tour in foreign countries, representing our country, showing our culture."
On this two-month round, the guys of La Inédita are happy to lose their virginity of the West Coast. In the past, they've performed nearest to Tucson a few hours south in our sister city, Hermosillo, Sonora.
Back in Perú, you can find La Inédita performing at popular downtown Lima venues and bars in the capital's district of Barranca on the Pacific Coast. Last year, they were featured at South by Southwest.
Even though their first LP, Chichamuffin, came out four years ago, U.S. audiences are still new to La Inédita's fusion of chicha, reggae, dancehall, rock and hip-hop. But this isn't a discouragement to the band; it's been exciting to witness that love-at-first-listen vibe from the people who've come to their shows this summer in cities like New Orleans and Austin. They're looking forward to their visit to Tucson, especially after hearing locals are no stranger to Mexican cumbia, thanks to bands like Vox Urbana and Santa Pachita.
"[At our shows], there are people from all over...México, South America, really, of all countries. [There are] also locals from the city where we are performing...What connects all of these countries is cumbia," says Adrian Rocha, La Inédita's vocalist. "We are playing a fusion of recognizable sounds."