Salvador pop heroes will relive Buenas Epocas at Hollywood Park
For a generation of Salvadoran Americans who remember the golden age of Salvadoran pop music before the country's brutal civil war of the 1980s and early '90s, the buenas epocas (good times) may roll again this Saturday night. That's when more than half a dozen star frontmen of some of El Salvador's top pop bands of the '60s and '70s will reunite for an 8 p.m. concert at Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood.
Like the early Chicano bands of East L.A., Salvadoran pop and rock musicians were heavily influenced by Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Motown and James Brown and began imitating them. At first, most Salvadoran bands cranked out Spanish-language cover versions of hits like "Louie, Louie." Many Salvadorans still regard those versions -- not their English-language counterparts -- as the originals.
Later, swayed by the era's experimental vibes, Salvadoran groups began writing their own songs, combining British Invasion-style pop hooks with salsa and cumbia beats and swoony bolero sentiments. It was Salvador's version of a global pop music boom that was paralleled in places like Brazil, where the Tropicalia movement similarly fused native bossa nova with Anglo-American rock and psychedelic pop.
Among the performers this weekend will be Oscar Olano of Los Intocables, Julio Paiz of Hielo Ardiente, Alan Castillo of Compañía 10, German Mangandi of Fiebre Amarilla and Tony Delgado of Los Kiriaps. The concert's L.A.-based organizer, William Flores, said the music of that time continues to influence contemporary Latin American pop and speaks to younger generations of Salvadoran Americans in communities like Los Angeles who learned of the music from older relatives.
"I didn't live that era, but I grew up with those songs playing on the radio," Flores said. But it has been hard for Salvadoran bands to reassemble, Flores said, because many of their members passed away -- including those killed during the war -- or left El Salvador for other countries.
The concert's formal title is "Voces del Rock Salvadoreño," but it could as easily be titled "Buenas Epocas," the name of an intriguing feature-length documentary film by director Mario Anaya that screened last summer at downtown L.A.'s Million Dollar Theater and spawned a terrific two-disc CD set, "Buenas Epocas," including dozens of songs from Salvador's Nueva Ola (New Wave) such as Los Kiriaps' "Incomprensión" and the Supertwisters' Salvadoran-accented take on Ray Charles' "What'd I Say."
-- Reed Johnson
Photo: Oscar Olano in concert. Credit: Mar Works.