2011 is the year for Los Guerreros de la Musica (LGM) - a group of 7 young musicians that have fused all of their respective tastes and experiences to create a very fresh and not-to-be-labeled style. Two of the band members, Jesus ‘El Guero’ Romero and Stephen Araujo, have roots in Denver Harbor & took the time to sit down with me to share how they came together as a band, their musical stylings, and where they see themselves and the community in the years to come.
Los Guerreros de la Musica formed in 2009, yet Jesus and Stephen had been exploring their musical niches even prior to meeting in 1995 at John H. Reagan High School. Jesus recanted that one of the first people to open his eyes to music outside of rock/metal/cumbia was Mr. Allen from McReynolds Middle School. He described how the sound of the trumpet entered his ears and how it just became a part of him. Stephen said that his aunt bought him a toy drum set when he was about 8 years old, and he bashed that one up until he was 13 and a friend convinced him to save up his quarters and buy a new drum set. He started a band and delved into punk and rock styles. At Reagan High, he was accidentally checked into band- and was told by the band director, Mr. Hoon, that he’d have to participate in the first marching band parade before he could decide to check out. He participated and he was hooked. That is where he met Jesus. With their friendship came 6 to 7 hour long jam sessions where they found their courage and realized how well they vibed as musicians. In high school, Jesus began being mentored by Mr. Guerra, who taught him the fundamentals of Mariachi music from Son, Guapango, to traditional ballads. This only gives insight into one side of LGM’s melodic foundation.
To hear Los Guerreros de la Musica is like indulging in a ‘musical goulash’, as Stephen explained it. A look at their facebook fan page confirms their genre as a blend of ‘Spanish Rock, Cumbia, Funk, Tropical, Reggae, Jazz, Ballad, and Improvisation. The thing that makes LGM stand out, on top of the fusion of the music, is that their lyrics are en Español. I asked them about this, as English are both of the guy’s first languages and the way they mainly communicate. Jesus explained that he learned more Spanish in high school through Soccer and the Mariachi scene and when he first began writing poetry, it came naturally in that tongue. We also talked about how many Spanish words can have double meaning- see Cantinflas- and how Jesus never shied away from using the language to express himself – regardless of how others might perceive him for it. “We play what we feel inside, and if people like it, it’s just a bonus!”
I also asked the guys about how growing up in Denver Harbor influences their music and who they are. Stephen told me that he lived between DH and the Heights, and how you could tell the difference between how the people interacted in the two neighborhoods. “In DH the neighbors all knew each other” and he feels it’s helped him to stay grounded after all these years. Jesus said that he appreciates what he went through living in Denver Harbor and that he makes sure to make everyone feel welcomed around him because that’s what it was like for him in DH. He also said that growing up here has helped him keep close to his Mexican culture- and we at OurDHStreets say, they’re open, friendly, and cultural pride is very noticeable in all the right ways!
For other musicians and artists, Jesus and Stephen gave a few words of advice and experience. In their avisos, we couldn’t help but tie it to the way you should deal with all things and people in your life, so I list them as a ‘how to’ for every relationship- band or other:
1. Keep an open mind – If they would have closed themselves to certain people in the band due to their musical background, they wouldn’t have the sound that sets them apart now.
2. Trust each other- You have to know that the people around you are reliable.
3. Find people that are on your level- Jesus shares that there are a lot of talented people, yet it doesn’t always mean that you will mesh well together.
4. Communicate- Stephen says that you have to remember that [we] all have feelings, so you need to talk.
5. Heart- Stephen explains that all of LGM are dedicated and hard workers.
6. Attitude- Both guys say you have to have a good onda, because it reflects in the sound.
When asked what changes they have seen in DH and what they see for our streets in the future, Stephen said that he feels people are starting to think more, that the youth show respect, and that people seem to have drive and energy to make changes. Jesus says that he feels that DH was a lot tougher when he was growing up and that people who live here have begun to branch out. Like Stephen, he sees the potential the young have and shared that one of his goals in the coming years is to form a network with other DH residents and like-minded people to create a center for the arts here locally- not just for music, but to build community.
So, with all these thoughts and musical powers combined, Jesus is cranking out tunes on the trumpet, writing music, and doing vocals while Stephen takes care of all percussion instruments and live audio for Los Guerreros de la Musica. Along with the rest of the band, they have a lot coming up this year.
Please make sure to check their links below for upcoming performances, but most definitely look out for them at this year’s iFest: Journey Across Asia! They will be performing on the Latin Stage on May 8th at 4:00PM! Come out and vibe with the energetic, distinct, and invigorating music of LGM!