This year marks the 30th anniversary of the talented and versatile Latino Rock group Café Tacvba, who are still going strong! Throughout their career together beginning in 1989 in Ciudad Satélite suburb of Mexico City when in their early 20’s, the band formed with singer, composer, activist, and totally innovative producer Ruben Albarrán; guitarist, singer, composer, and novelist Joselo Rangel; his very talented bass playing brother with the voice of an angel, Quique Rangel; and the philosophical keyboardist, composer/singer “Meme” Emmanuel del Real have kept their public anxiously awaiting each fabulous new incarnation they present as they move forward in their musical trajectory year after year.
Last year’s tour was spectacular, filled with messages of hope and determination in spite of the world’s difficult political developments both at home and across the border about which they feel very keenly. As Meme expressed regarding the song “Futuro” from their latest album, Jei Beibi, “you live in a country like this or with a neighbor like the one we have, you can’t be not taking care of what’s happening…You can’t not say something about it.” The future is now.
The title of the album Jei Beibi is an invitation to reach out and communicate, a frequent theme in the group’s lyrics. Rangel says with a laugh “The four of us are not ‘bad hombres,’ I think we want to give to the people from Mexico and from other countries in Latin America — to bring them comfo”rt and hope.”
Not always a perfect marriage, the individual band members have each branched out in their own direction from time to time only to come back with a treasure trove of unique experiences to meld into their collective musical message. For example, a few years ago Ruben created a group called HopPo, a freewheeling project that moves through indigenous communities and small towns to share music and learn from the people. It is an inspiring idea, moving away from the big stage and technology into a simpler world surrounded by nature.
Ruben is also known to take on new identities using them exclusively in exchange for the old and tells us that sometimes he just needs a break from being Ruben Albarrán and finds it refreshing to be someone else.
Sometimes he sees it as a game but in the end believes it brings home new inspiration and is even therapeutic.
What does not change is the commitment to the causes and principals the fellows embrace. They are totally modern but tied to traditional roots that they treasure. Although they have a great following in the US, they still sing only in Spanish and honor the musical forms and beliefs of their forbearers while at the same time being actively involved in the modern world, its issues and its challenges. Ruben does not miss an opportunity to show his commitment to causes he espouses.
What impressed me greatly at this year’s 30th anniversary tour, which I attended in Santa Rosa, California on October 10 with my family, was the love.
Café Tacvba’s connection with their audience is intense and sincere. Ruben treated the audience like his family, offering inspirational words, the warmth that only he can exude and a seeming reluctance to leave us behind.
Café Tacvba is the only group to ever do two MTV Unplugged albums. The group will be playing in both Guadalajara and Mexico City as part of their 30th anniversary tour this year. Encore, encore and encore Café Tacvba!