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Stars Pick Their Top Five! This Week: Santa Pachita

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Out of the 802 saints that Pope Francis canonized in St. Peter's Square on May 2013, Santa Pachita doesn't appear anywhere in the canon.

What up?

Miguel Reyes explains: "Santa Pachita. Not a real saint." In 2012, after playing in other projects, Reyes and Victor Cruz found kinship—rooted in their love of reggae, rock, ska, Latin rhythms and Manu Chao—and started hanging out. "I soon noticed that Cruz always carried a flask ..." Perhaps, to hold sacred spirits? "We started playing around with band names." Pachita means little flask. Santa means saint or holy. "We thought that the reference to the Holy Grail was funny," Reyes recalls.

Ah, so that's why canonized St. Joseph of Cupertino levitated during prayer ...

Santa Pachita was christened and Reyes and Cruz brought in musicians from different backgrounds: Ray Cintron on timbales and bongos. Drummer Raymond Peralta. Mike Ankomeous on trumpet and flute. Trombonist Matt Hotez. Trumpeter/keyboardist Adam Guenthner. Joe Whitley on congas and jambe.

With bassist Cruz and guitarist Reyes sharing vocals. The result is a highly energetic, danceable fusion of ska, cumbia, and rumba-salsa.

Exploring existentialism, environmental awareness and social justice in their work, Santa Pachita have two albums to their credit: Ruta Olvido (2017) and 2014's El Muerto.

Comprised of both Mexicans and Americans, "We see the band as a family," says Reyes. "It's an example of how people from different backgrounds can be accepting, work together and create something positive."

Here, Santa Pachita's attraction to activism and wicked rhythms is reflected in their Top 5 Most Influential Albums:

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1. Maldita Vecindad—El Circo (1991): This album perfectly captures the vibe of Mexico City's vibrant urban life. The horns and percussion are so tight, they change rhythms at the drop of a hat, simply amazing. For us, this album is a folkloric masterpiece amongst Mexican rock/ska bands.

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2. Bob Marley—Legend (1984): This album is so very meaningful to us. It is at the root of everything we believe is just and fair in the world. Marley's music has been a great inspiration to us as songwriters.

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3. Manu Chao— Próxima Estación (2001): There are so many things that we love about this album. It brings us back to the reality of our urban life. We love the unmistakable sound, the sarcasm, the humor and the undeniable undercurrent of activism.

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4. Los Fabulosos Cadillacs—Vasos Vacíos (1993): The song "Vasos Vacios" (empty glasses) makes us happy for some reason. Like everything is going to be alright. The lyrics sing out: [Translated] There will always be empty glasses/With water from the city/Our water comes from the river/Mixed with the sea... /Woman, raise up your arms/Tonight, put yourself to dance.../Don't worry 'bout a thing my love. Intoxicating as life itself.

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5. Caifanes—El Nervio Del Volcán (1994): The pre-Hispanic references [of a time when indigenous civilizations established hallmarks in Mesoamerica] expressed in the lyrics, accented by the music on this record, make it a rock en Español classic. This album was hugely influential in shaping the band.

Santa Pachita performs with Inspector (ska/reggae revivalists from Monterrey, Mexico) and Mono Ser (rock) on Sunday, July 9 at 191 Toole,445-6425, Doors: 7 p.m. Tix: $15 - $20. 21 +.


More by Xavier Omar Otero

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