Sunday, August 24, 2003
the band begun by two brothers from Abiquiu, is making its mark
on the music world. Its latest CD won four awards, and its Nuevo
Latino music is reaching the right ears in the music industry, as
well as the public.
Inez Russell for the New Mexican
moment is now for the brothers Manzanares. After years of hard work
-- performing, marketing, promoting the music of their band, Manzanares
-- all the pieces seem to be coming together to give the two brothers
from Abiquiu a chance to push their Nuevo Latino rhythms to prominence.
As David Manzanares puts it: "We've been invited to the dance. We
still have to perform, we still have to prove ourselves, but we're
going to be there."
"There," among other things, is a show in Las Vegas, Nev., opening
for Los Lobos at the Oscar de la Hoya pre-fight concert at MGM Grand
on Sept. 12. Then, after the fight, Manzanares will play for the
post-fight party -- the kind of gathering where Hollywood stars
and top record producers are just a few of the big shots in the
the chance that David and Michael Manzanares and other band members
have been working toward tirelessly --and they know this gig could
take their music from New Mexico to a world hungry for new rhythms,
international flavors and honest, roots-based music with heart.
"We're part of this whole explosion of Latino music," said David
Manzanares, an intense man even while relaxing before Manzanares'
date during Spanish market at El Farol. "It's been a long, hard
road, but after seven years, there's interest in us from the industry."
He's intense for the right reasons. This music he feels so passionately
has to be front and center. Every gig, even at the familiar bar
where the band honed its skills over the years, has to be attacked
with passion. Who knows who will be watching that night? Every interview,
even for the hometown paper has to focus on what's important, and
that's this music that fuses danceable beats, sizzling guitars and
heart-stopping harmonies. In this moment of opportunity, nothing
can be left to chance.
working hard at getting this music out," said brother Michael, who
with David writes and sings and plays guitar. "It's really gathering
two boys who grew up playing music with their father and uncles,
who spoke Spanish as naturally as English and who still return home
to help with branding in the Spring, this moment came not from sizing
up a burgeoning Latin market and playing to the crowd, but rather,
from doing what they learned back at the ranch.
were doing this music because it spoke to us, " David Manzanares
said. "Now it seems like we're speaking larger. But we haven't changed
anything. We're just doing what we were doing all along."
Salazar, owner of El Farol, has watched the brothers grow up as
a friend of the family, and then seen their music develop over the
years at hundreds of sweaty performances in the corner of his landmark
bar and restaurant on Canyon Road.
"Their family was musical," Salazar said. "They picked it up and
took it up a few more notches."
brothers' strength, he believes, is in their New Mexico roots: "They
started off with the roots they had and they kept adding on. Then
they just happened to come along when groups like this were sweeping
the country. The Cuban thing, the Puerto Rican thing. The Buena
Vista Social Club….
sets Manzanares apart, said Salazar , "is they have real ethnic
roots, not psuedo-roots."
Last year, the band put together its second CD, Nuevo Latino,
a recording that showcases the rhythms and fire of Manzanares' repertoire.
came after a stint in Southern California, where Manzanares spent
months playing live shows to reach new audiences. Taking the act
to California was not easy -- the brothers are born-and-raised norteños.
those decisions have borne fruit -- the CD won four New Mexico Music
Industry Association awards, including Album of the Year. And those
gigs across California reached the right people, the right ears,
bringing the band opportunities out of reach for a strictly New
on the radar are international shows in Brazil and Lebanon. Already,
the group has been filmed for German television and was selected
by famed American photographer Eli Reed to be photographed for a
book about American life.
overseas opportunities, David Manzanares said, occurred because
a booker saw the band play in Los Angeles: "He kept us in mind,
and 'boom,' there we go. That's someone who's placing us. We would
never have known about these things without it. We need a lot more
they want -- and are keeping their fingers crossed for -- is a record
contract, something that gives the band backing and promotion so
that band members can concentrate on the music.
it's about the songs," David Manzanares said. "The songs are either
going to get them or they're not."
a packed El Farol, darkness and heat and music swirled together
as Manzanares put down a practiced but still fresh groove by excellent
musicians at the top of their game.
David Manzanares said, "When you surround yourself with awesome
musicians, the song is going to be performed the best it can be."
the heart of those songs -- whether on record or live -- is the
deep bond between two brothers who finish each other sentences.
Playing together since childhood -- especially on "New Mexico music,"
is the glue between Michael and I," David said. "Even if we're not
playing rancheras and traditional ballads, we would not have this
chemistry if we hadn't had that growing up."
chemistry will be cranked up for Vegas, but it's always on display
locally, whether the band is playing on the Plaza or in a pub.
will be especially potent during Fiesta, when Manzanares will play
at the burning of Zozobra from 6:30 p.m. to 7:20 p.m. Sept. 4 and
post-burning, will be headlining a show at the Paramount. The band
also will play Sept 6 at El Farol.
can stop by to get a preview of what Hollywood's elite will be hearing
after the big fight, and in the process, share a piece of what could
be Manzanares' moment.
that people are knocking on our door, it's a bigger opportunity
than just for us," said David Manzanares. "This is something for
all of New Mexico."
Members of the band are David and Michael Manzanares, Mark Clark,
Kevin Miller, Jeff Nelson and Kanoa Kaluhiwa.
Celebrating the Best in the Southwest, April 2003
Abiquiu Rocks! IN
WHICH TWO MUSICAL BROTHERS PROVE THAT YOU CAN GO HOME AGAIN
"RETURN TO ABIQUIU"
Marjorie Kaplan for the Santa Fean.
people think of Abiquiu, New Mexico,as the somewhat remote place
where Georgia O'Keeffe spent the latter part of her life --walking
out among the starkly beautiful lunar landscapes, painting sun-bleached
cows' skulls and voluptuous flowers, and introducing art-world luminaries
from back east to the sweeping high-desert vistas of sky and hills
and phantasmagoric pillars of sandstone. But Abiquiu is also a community
where people live quiet, land-centered lives, and where children
grow up on the same farms and ranches as their grandparents did.
Two of Abiquiu's children are David and Michael Manzanares, whose
family has lived in the area for generations. The brothers are now
the charismatic principals of the Nuevo Latino band Manzanares,
which is immensely popular in Northern New Mexico and seems poised
on the brink of wider acclaim. Despite their busy performance schedule,
David and Michael make time to return to their Abiquiu roots as
frequently as possible. Writer Marjorie Kaplan accompanied them
on one recent visit, and this is the story she filed.
tiny town of Abiquiu shines under a cloudless blue sky as a chilly
wind blows across the Rio Chama. Inside the Manzanareses' homey
kitchen, the warmth from a cast-iron wood stove mingles with the
strong scent of cinnamon. David and his younger brother, Michael,
feast on eggs, and homemade red chile while their mother Ellie,
finishes making a batch of her famous bizcochitos ( the secret?
lard ) and their father, Herman tunes his luminous acoustic guitar.
The two sons are savoring the luxury of a leisurely breakfast around
the kitchen table with their parents and older brother Daniel, who
works on the family ranch, Rancho Centinela, where the six Manzanares
siblings were raised.
and Michael, this relaxed, idyllic Sunday-morning scene is a welcome
respite from the hectic pace of life on the road with their band,
Manzanares, whose unique sounds --as smooth as Santana and as exuberant
as the Gipsy Kings -- have recently begun attracting the attention
of major record labels.
up in Abiquiu was grounding," Michael says of the quiet town,
an hour north of Santa Fe, that the Manzanares clan has called home
for more than 200 years. "Sure we went searching out other
places to see them and visit them, but we always end up coming home.
The feeling here is like nothing else.
of Abiquiu are clearly committed to perserving that feeling, no
matter what. Old-time settlers, many the descendants of genizaros
(half Indian/half Hispanic people) who sought refuge in this scenic
outpost, now strive to preserve their privacy - as evidenced by
the sigh at the entrance to the old Abiquiu village, waring that
no photographs are allowed. Nearby Ghost Ranch, the 21,000-acre
education and retreat center now owned by the Presbyterian church,
was so named to discourage unwanted visitors.
It was the
reclusive artist Georgia O'Keeffe who put the area on the international
map, when she moved there in the 1940's and began painting the craggy
red cliffs punctuated by the lush, green swath of the fertile Chama
River valley. Now the area's rocky ocher-and-crimson landscape has
become a favorite film location, luring the likes of Ron Howard
and Billy Bob Thornton, while residents Marsha Mason and Shirley
MacLaine find a peaceful antidote to the glitz of Hollywood in the
area's slow tempo and magnificent scenery.
Abiquiu's population has increased eight-fold--from a mere 250 when
the Manzanareses were boys to nearly 2,000 today -- much remains
the same. "This is the place that remains constant in our lives."
Michael says. "It speaks to us, inspires us, and keeps us grounded
while we're surrounded by the ups and downs of the music industry."
finish our bizochitos, David and Michael take me to explore some
of their old haunts. Any tour, naturally, begins in the village.
In this informal community high atop a mesa overlooking the valley,
the dusty streets have no names, and old adobe buildings are clustered
around St. Thomas Catholic Church, where the Manzanares boys once
played guitar and sang in the choir. The most famous of all the
adobes is Georgia O'Keeffe's former residence which sits on a three-acre
plot. Now a museum, the home is available for tours, although reservations
must be booked months in advance.
O'Keeffe" was a prominent figure in the Manzanareses' childhoods.
"We all remember spending time at her home--her white room
is what stands out in my memory, along with her garden, her stories,
and mostly her generosity to us as a family," David recalls.
"She used to carry Michael on her back because he was afraid
of her chows. We had no idea how famous she already was, or how
much her talent would impact the world. We remember her simple,
quiet life -- the same life we enjoyed as children, as well."
brothers credit the artist's ferocious guarding of her own privacy
with protecting the entire village. "Ms. O'Keeffe helped keep
the outside world at bay," David says. "Indiretly, she
helped us to have the same sort of childhood our parents had."
included riding bikes down the main highway to Bode's General Store
--back when it was actually owned by the Bode family, although the
gas station/delicatessen/gift shop is still (along with The Abiquiu
Inn) one of the best eateries in town. The boys used to love rafting
the gently flowing Chama River, whose unpredictable waters are now
controlled by the Abiquiu Dam and Reservoir, and climbing the majestic
cliffs of nearby Plaza Blanca (White Place). "There's a cave
up there where I still go with my guitar and play sometimes,"
David says, pointing toward the white stone towers that rise behind
Abiquiu to the east.
But by far
their favorite place was --and is-- Ghost Ranch, 12 miles north
of the "city proper," where dazzling red-rock formations
reminiscent of Sedona, Arizona, punctuate the land. Here, such famous
landmarks as Chimney Rock, Box Canyon, and Matrimonio Mesa have
been the Manzanares children's playgrounds for decades.
hard to choose a favorite spot because each place is so special,
depending on the light or time of day," David says. "No
wonder Georgia O'Keeffe was so inspired here." For the past
12 years, as Ghost Ranch's production liaison, David has helped
directors, producers, and photographers choose locations. Whether
they're scouting for such movies as All the Pretty Horses
and Wyatt Earp, or for a Land's End catalog, David
never tires of introducing visitors to such hidden areas as Painted
Desert ("with its out-of-this-world landscapes") and Ladron
("because of the huge, mysterious red boulders"). "I've
been to Ghost Ranch a thousand times, but it still takes my breath
away," he says.
the entire Manzanares clan assembles under the ranch's enormous
cottonwoods to celebrate their heritage, gathering around a midsummer
bonfire while aunts, uncles, and cousins play and sing the Spanish
corridos that helped form the brothers' musical foundation.
Their lovely mother , Ellie (a recent inductee into the Cowgirl
Hall of Fame), makes sure that everyone gets enough to eat, while
father Herman plays a mean guitar and harmonica, leaving no doubt
as to the source of the brothers' prodigious talents.
family reunions are wonderful," David says. "We dance
under the same stars that my grandparents and my parents have danced
under." And any Sunday when they're not performing in Santa
Fe, or Taos, or Los Angeles, or Las Vegas, Nevada, the brothers
head for Rancho Centinela. "Our immediate family tries to get
together whenever we can," Michael says. "We always love
to come home."
Kaplan is the chief financial officer at the International Institute
of Chinese Medicine in Santa Fe, a karaoke singer, a ontime marathoner,
and a high-handicap bowler.
, NEW MEXICO'S MUSIC MAGAZINE, May/June, 2003
MANZANARES Nuevo Latino
If luck is "preparation
meeting opportunity," then after seven years of preparation,
Manzanares is finally going to get lucky! In addition to working
on several other projects, the Santa Fe based band was taped live
April 19 at El Farol, for the German VOXTOURS Television show. The
tiny Santa Fe venue was, as usual when Manzanares plays there, completely
full. The VOXTOURS program will air sometime in the fall of 2003.
Anyone got international cable TV?
known as Manzanares is led by brothers Michael on vocals, acoustic
and electric guitars, and David on vocals and acoustic guitar. The
siblings write all of their material, and although seven years apart
in age, are incredibly close. The rest of the band is made up of
"the most incredible, talented musicians that join us on stage.
The line-up changes at times due to scheduling, but our musicians
(who are our friends as well) really work hard to play with us.
Each member of the band brings something special, and together we
create something great. It's that togetherness that makes our music
global and that 's what we're shooting for."
for the El Farol performance included: Xandy Whitesel, the self-described
"regular sub" for Mark Clark on drums and percussion; Jeff
Nelson on bass; Kanoa Kaluhiwa on sax, and Manzanares cousin , Kevin
Miller on congas. Most of the band came together through mutual
friends and most are well-known on the local music scene.
Nelson brings a little R&B flavor to the band, a little funk,
as it were. Although he grew up in Santa Fe alongside Mark Clark,
Nelson was with the funk band Cameo for eight years. Nelson has
been with Manzanares for two years and said "Working for Manzanares
has been great because they're (David and Michael) real people and
they treat people with respect. They go out of their way to treat
brothers hold tightly to the tradition of family, music and the
land that has been home to their family for more than a century.
I found them to be gracious, professional, and grounded. They are
extremely considerate of each other, their bandmates and their audience.
Xandy Whitesel who has been with the band for about two months,
he's with Manzanares because "It's damn fun!" It's also
challenging. Whitesel said he had to learn 35 songs in two weeks
before going on tour to California with Manzanares. "There
are a lot of songs, a lot of arrangements. It's really happening,
it takes 90 octane, a lot of energy. If this music doesn't shake
your booty, nothing will."
to El Farol's general manager Shasheem, Manzanares is like family.
"Those guys, when they were starting out , this is where they
came. Their family has been here for years. We had nights when David
and Michael brought their father on stage to play -- it was magical."
Having Manzanares at El Farol, he said "helps facilitate what
we do. The food and the music go hand in hand. It's a privilege
to have them here."
dressed in their usual attire of black t-shirts and black leather
pants, played three full sets, giving themselves completely to the
audience and closing the place down at 1a.m. with the "die-hard"
fans hanging on until the very end, begging for more.
experience Manzanares presented that night was like a distant thunderstorm
slowly rolling in. Couples took to the dance floor as soon as they
heard the first notes of the gentle, almost subtle instrumental
melodies. As the storm got closer and Michael was wailing on his
electric guitar, the heavens cracked open. The thunderstorm that
is Manzanares released a downpour on El Farol unleashing an intensity
and electricity that had everyone dancing in some fashion or another
in every available space, and which left the windows of the historic
venue obscured with steam.
El Farol's chef, James Campbell Caruso said "Manzanares is
one of our most popular bands and they are some of the nicest guys
I know. They're so rooted in tradition and they work really hard
at what they do, they keep expanding. People come to see the band
because they have a connection to the music. The feel of the building,
the history, the music, it all goes together."
is the winner of two 1998 New Mexico Music Industry Coalition (NMMIC)
Awards -- one for Best Latin Musical Production and one for Best
Vocal Performance. This year, they snagged on incredible 12 nominations,
including Best Album for their 2002 release, "Nuevo Latino."
Four Manzanares songs (two from their debut CD "Vivir"
and two from "Nuevo Latino" ) are featured on the soundtrack
of the PBS documentary "Trail of the Painted Ponies."
The program is scheduled to air sometime this year, keep checking
your local listings. Two more Manzanares songs are being considered
for several national video, television, and film projects. In addition,
2002 saw the band put a lot of miles on their instruments.
instance, they opened for Los Lobos at the Taos Solar Music Festival;
performed at the prestigious Knitting Factory in Hollywood; were
invited by BMI to perform in Austin, TX at the "South By Southwest,"
show; were featured on the Food Network's "FoodNation"
with Bobby Flay; and of course they saw the release of their second
CD "Nuevo Latino."
asked brothers David and Michael to describe what Nuevo Latino is
in sound and feel. "It's like an explosion of new musical ideas
with a Latin twist," said Michael. "Our sound is inspired
by the music our father played and that we learned as young children,"
said David, "everything we do is Latino. The sound that we've
created is not only new, but constantly growing, changing , and
evolving. The term "Nuevo Latino" means that we stay true
to our core Latin sound with the ability and desire to tap into
our musician's musical influences. This allow our music to be new,
hip and fresh ... hence Nuevo Latino."
has been able to attract an international audience through their
live performances. The brothers said that a lot of their fans are
from Europe and Australia, thanks to the Internet, and they also
have an international fan base due to David's production business.
"When they come here to shoot a catalog or video, they instantly
become enchanted not only with New Mexico, but with Manzanares as
well -- many times they end up using our music for their projects."
is fond of saying "You inspire us to do what we love best!
Seeing their music come to life is what Manzanares loves best. The
chemistry between David and Michael is the fuel for the fire that
is Manzanares and their Nuevo Latino sound. The energy of the audience
is the oxygen that keeps the fire burning.
April 25 - May 1, 2003
NMMI nominates Manzanares
has been nominated for 12 New Mexico Music Industry Awards, including
Best Album, for its new release, Nuevo Latino. Other nominations
are in Adult Contemporary, Best Original Arrangement, Best Engineer,
Best Instrumental Performance, Best Packaging Design, Best Producer,
Best Song, Best Vocal Performance, Jazz, New Age Contemporary and
Salsa/Latino. The group's first CD, Vivir, won two 1998 NMMI
Awards -- Best Music Production Salsa/Latino and Best Vocal Performance.
brothers Michael and David Manzanares are the group's core, and
they often perform as a duo. Their current ensemble includes percussionist
Mark Clark, bassist Jeff Nelson, conguero Kevin Miller, saxophonist
Kanoa Kaluhiwa and drummer Xandy Whitesel.
performances have included opening for Los Lobos at the Taos Solar
Music Festival, South by Southwest, the Knitting Factory in Hollywood,
the Temple Bar in Los Angeles, Santa Fe Spanish Market, Palm Springs
Nortel Film Festival and Muriel's in Palm Springs. Their current
schedule takes them regularly throughout New Mexico and to Texas,
Las Vegas, Colorado and the West Coast.
information, visit the Web site www.manzanaresysol.com
Fe's weekly arts & Entertainment Magazine, Oct. 11 - 17, 2002
Manzanares makes music without borders
for new frontiers with "Nuevo Latino"
Silja J.A. Talvi For The New Mexican
David and Michael Manzanares, Northern New Mexico is the ground
from which all good things blossom. The singer-songwriter-guitarist
brothers both say that it is this part of the world that inspires
family has been here for hundreds of years, and what comes along
with that is a love of the people, the land, the traditions and
what those things stand for. These are our roots, " David Manzanares
said. "And no matter where we go or where we play, I feel that
we're taking that with us."
love of familia, the dusty land and its music have kept David
and Michael playing and composing together for more than 20 years,
eventually forming the musical group Manzanares. Based in Santa
Fe since the mid-1990s, and with more than 1,000 live shows tucked
under their belts, they're building on a musical career that will
take them to new heights.
Latino, Manzanares' second album, is a brash, energetic and
skillful recording. It's an exhilarating romp through flamenco-style
palmas, conga-tinged rock riffs, salsa-style percussion and
even traditional ranchera guitar leads. In bridging musical
genres and rhythmic structures, Manzanares reaches for a distinct
style that seems to exist sin fronteras --"without borders."
a little bit of everything for everyone." David said. And this,
the brothers agree, is why Nuevo Latino seemed fitting as
a way of explaining where they and their band mates are coming from.
has been delighting local audiences for several years. Weekend shows
at Santa Fe's El Farol are rollicking, house-shaking dance
parties, but Manzanares also has played at Hollywood's Latin
Lounge nightclub and at South by Southwest, the popular-alternative
music industry's annual showcase in Austin. The 1998 album Vivir
won two New Mexico Industry Coalition awards for best Latino musical
production and vocal performance.
Latino, David and Michael are joined by a dynamic group of local
musicians, including percussionist Mark Clark, bassist Jeff Nelson,
tenor saxophoist Kanoa Kaluhiwa, and conga player (and second cousin)
of each of these players, the brothers said, is vital to the group
because they are also committed to bringing their respective talents
and musical versatility to the recordings and live shows.
time we play, it's deeper than the music," David said. "Onstage,
while we are performing, it's really not about telling the same
story over and over. It's about feeling that moment and digging
deep inside and pulling out whatever comes up."
To do that
night after night, David said, a certain degree of personal vulnerability
showing raw emotions," he said of the experience of playing
with his group in front of a live audience. "Sometimes you're
not even sure what it is that you're showing . It's right out there,
trembling in your hands, and someone could just come along and knock
it off, tell you that they don't care. That would hurt. But with
these guys, that's not what happens. They're willing to put it on
the line every time we play."
the positive relationship among the Manzanares musicians is heightened
by the energy of its fans. "We have a great following, and
there are always new faces," Michael said. "No matter
what, when people come to one of our shows, it's like experiencing
a big, extended family."
Much of the
feeling Manzanares strives for -- and achieves -- in its live shows
can be directly traced to the brothers' upbringing as the youngest
of six children on a century-old ranch in Abiquiu.
father was a musician in our world and in the community." David
said, "a singer in the old troubadour style. He sang at baptisms,
First Communions, and when that kid grew up and got married. And
when a person died, it was my father who sang during the rosario
every one of those traditions," Michael added, "there's
always a fiesta and always celebration."
Michael, who are seven years apart in age, each remember vividly
watching and listening to their father and uncles sit down and play
traditional Northern New Mexican and Spanish music, including rancheras,
the emotional folk compositions that originated in western Mexico;
boleros, Spanish songs and dances in triple meter: corridos,
Mexican folk ballads; and valses fast waltzes, for hours.
Initially the boys were only allowed to listen or else to fiddle
around, like Michael did, on a one-stringed electric guitar. Eventually
their nascent understanding of those musical traditions -- learned
mainly through osmosis rather than direct instruction -- earned
them a place with the older generation of singers and musicians.
were surrounded by older cats playing music all the time,"
Michael said. " I always thought that was cool. What they were
doing was bringing out joy and happiness to people. They were passing
on tradition and culture with songs."
And it was
a sister who introduced them to the world of rock 'n roll, expanding
their comprehension of musical possibilities with recordings of
Jimi Hendrix, Santana, Jimmy Cliff and Los Lobos. "When everyone
else was listening to Poison and those 'hair bands,' I was listening
to Bob Marley and Led Zeppelin," Michael said. "Our uncles
stuck to the traditional music, but the younger generation was getting
together on the side and saying, 'Let's play this stuff.' "
jam sessions were to be the basis of a lifelong musical collaboration
between David and Michael, whose degree of interpersonal comfort
and musical familiarity with each other has helped shape their sound
and playful, exuberant stage presence.
As a result,
Nuevo Latino is solid from start to finish, a nonstop romp
through the vibrant territory that Manzanares has staked out as
its own. On fiery, up-tempo "Muchacha" or on the romantic
ballad "Solamente Ella," Manzanares blends powerfully
exhaled harmonies with an explosive percussion section, flamenco
guitar touches, jazzy sax riffs and Latin bass lines.
self-released albums, the group now enjoys a steady stream of higher-profile
gigs and festival shows. Courting a major-label deal is next on
the agenda, but the band insists that everything always comes back
to this particular part of the world. It's here, after all, that
they can spend time with their extended family, and bask in the
appreciation and fevered intensity that New Mexican audiences bring
to their shows.
base will always be Northern New Mexico," Michael said. "That's
where my soul recharges. All I have to do is close my eyes, go home
and become one with the sand."
MEXICO'S MUSIC MAGAZINE, May 2002
Two Santa Fe brothers are Sizzling With A "Nuevo Latino"
Style - May Spotlight Artist
Soulful Spanish vocals
and flamenco guitars mix with hot latin percussion and a funky,
jazzy sensibility in the music of MANZANARES
de Sa' Rego
Manzanares family has
always been a musical
one, since as long ago as brothers David and Michael Manzanares
can remember. The sight of their father playing his guitar, surrounded
by family members dancing or playing along, was a common one in
their childhood home in Abiquiu, New Mexico. David and Michael
have been playing guitar together since childhood, and as the red-hot
Nuevo Latino band Manzanares since 1996. These native New Mexicans
have developed a unique musical style that is a fiery blend of flamenco,
salsa, rumba, and rock. While defying traditional musical description,
Manzanares embraces their musical and cultural heritage while making
music that is irresistibly danceable and incredibly diverse. Souful
Spanish vocals and flamenco guitars mix with hot latin percussion
and a funky, jazzy sensibility in the music of Manzanares, and their
fans have responded by loyally flocking to Manzanares shows all
over the southwest and California.
I had the opportunity
to see Manzanares perform at El Farol in Santa Fe, on Saturday,
April 6th. The intimate restaurant and bar was packed with an audience
of dancing, clapping,
and cheering fans, and it wasn’t hard to figure out why. Manzanares
simply perform at an incredible level of intensity. These guys simply
blow the crowd away, jamming on acoustic guitars with abandon and
singing in Spanish with charisma and stage presence that is undeniable.
Led by David and Michael, who both play guitar and sing, the band
plays masterfully, passionately, and very fast when they want to.
Although Manzanares plays shows with anywhere from three to seven
members on stage, this show featured a five piece band with David
and Michael accompanied by Diego Maestas on congas, Mark
Clark on drums, and Jeff Nelson on bass. All members
in the band were outstanding, with Jeff Nelson’s impeccable slap
bass leading the way for some exhilarating percussion. The brothers
Manzanares work the crowd into a dancing frenzy; even those sitting
down work up a sweat clapping palmas flamenco-style to the compulsive
rhythms of Manzanares. Basing shows out of El Farol , Manzanares
has accumulated a loyal fan base; I spoke with several fans that
said they come to every Manzanares show to dance.
a full-length CD, Vivir, to critical acclaim in 1998,
and have two New Mexico Music Industry Coalition (NMMIC) awards
for their music. Recently Manzanares performed for an exclusive
industry event in Austin, Texas during the South by Southwest
(SXSW) event, as well as for the EAT’M convention in Las
Vegas, Nevada. Manzanares will perform several dates in May,
including every night May 1st through Cinco de Mayo at Sandia
Casino, and on May 11th and 18th at El Farol in Santa Fe. For
more information on Manzanares, including a calendar of upcoming
events, go to: www.manzanaresysol.com.
Lobos performs inaugural rock concert at Tennis Garden
SUN Friday, May 18, 2001 Palm Springs,
time, one night
Los Lobos with Malo, featuring Jorge Santana.
7:30 p.m. Saturday. Pre-show performance by Manzanares at 6 p.m.
Tennis Garden, 78-200 Miles Avenue, Indian Wells
CULTURE, OUR PICKS
January 6-12, 1999
HEARTS FULL OF SOL
By David Prince
Vivir, the 1997
debut album by Abiquiu's Michael and David Manzanares, heralded
the arrival of a pair of shining new stars on the nouveu-flamenco
scene. This past year, the two brothers expanded their guitar-strumming
and vocalizing by a factor of three and gave birth to Manzanares
y Sol, a percussion-filled quintet whose sound is a rhythmically
centered hybrid of Latino and Gypsy sonorities.
Fe's weekly arts & Entertainment Magazine, Nov. 13-19, 1998
The fire and the grace of Manzanares y Sol
Acoustic guitars rock
By Antonio Lopez
brothers David and Michael Manzanares perform a recent gig at The
Paramount was like seeing Latin versions of Johnny Cash and Elvis.
When David grabbed the mike, his Spanish guitar
hung draped over his shoulder while a limp knee trembled to the
beat. A lock of raven-black hair fell over his forehead.
Meanwhile Michael, dressed in complementary black, worked his way
through a fingerpicked solo in a minor key.
Behind the brothers, conga player Diego "Eso"
Maestas inserted Afro-Cuban fills between Mark Clark's steady percussion
beat. Marco Topo's bass provided a solid background, giving
the Manzanares brothers the space to rock out.
Acoustic Spanish guitars rocking out?
That's right. After 20 years of playing together, the brothers
interact with a deep, almost psychic sensitivity. In a repertoire
of 50 songs, Michael and David jump between atmospheric flamenco-flavored
melodies to Tito Puente or Santana-inspired jams.
Growing up on a traditional Hispanic ranch
in Abiquiu, N. M., the two youngest of six siblings informally performed
at family gatherings with their nine uncles and numerous cousins.
Little did they suspect that the infectious sounds of their youth
would make them one of Santa Fe's hottest live bands.
What distinguishes the Manzanares brothers from
other local acts that draw heavily on the Spanish guitar sound (often
referred to as nuevo flamenco) is their ability to amalgamate traditional
New Mexican music with the electricity and fire of rock, flamenco,
rumba and Latin sounds.
Drawing on their Northern New Mexico roots,
the Manzanares brothers sidestep Ottmar Liebert's softer new-age
hybrid. Every live gig is like a wedding or family gathering.
When they perform at El Farol Restaurant & Lounge on Saturday
night, the intimate setting
provides the ultimate experience in indigenous New Mexican music.
You don't have to believe the hype; just insert
your body into the frenetic crowd and experience the magic yourself.
Soon you are a cousin, uncle, aunt or niece. When the Manzanares
brothers play, you are familia.
"When we grew up, there would be big
family gatherings," David said. "And as soon as
the cousins and uncles got the music started
Michael finished the sentence. "It
was the passing of generations," he said.
The brothers have absorbed the rancheras,
corridos, haupangos, boleros and valses
played in the old days, back in a time when Abiquiu community members
bartered and shared intimate, rural lives.
Their debut CD, Vivir, released last year, won
two New Mexico Music Industry Coalition awards, one for best Latino
musical production and one for best vocal performance. The
CD represents the quieter, romantic side of the brothers, with lilting
melodies and soft harmonies.
Recent shows hint at the explosive energy and
fuller, richer sound they seek to capture on their next recording.
Currently the brothers are shopping a four-song demo that better
represents the fresh energy of a live concert.
"We want to share the music on a bigger
level, get more people to respond," David said. "It
completes the cycle. We share the music with the public to
get their reaction."
Now, with added percussion and bass, they have
expanded to become Manzanares y Sol. The band allows for more
dynamics and room to improvise, which has become a hallmark for
their live performances. Consequently, when writing their
music, the Manzanares brothers find themselves creating grooves
rather than inventing a contrived style. "It's a lot
less a thought process," David said. "It's music
for the soul. There is no denying the local influence.
That traditional music is very happy and uplifting. If you
want to party, just bring over some mariachis."
A Manzanares y Sol gig starts with their softer
sound and builds to more incendiary grooves much the same way ginger
clears the palate for sushi. The Manzanares brothers dig into
and endless repertoire, playing upwards of 35 songs in a night.
Within those songs, extended, improvised jams
create room for sparks.
"I always think about letting a song breathe,"
David said. "Once you get a groove going, you let it
do its thing." Emotion-packed soloing goes to the edge
and then the rest of the band melts in.
Sensitive to audience participation, the band
has a knack for building chemistry with dancers and people singing
"With the inspired dancing that goes on,
some people invent their own movements," Michael said. "If
someone does a Haitian dance, it pushes the conga player to change
As Santa Feans flock to their live shows, such
interaction is driving the Manzanares brothers to greater heights.
"Music survives culture," David said.
"It's awesome to be part of that."