Orkesta Mendoza and Las Cafeteras to bring upbeat, Latin-infused music to Norton

Published 8:16 am Friday, February 16, 2018


Press release

Acoustic alt-folk band Las Cafeteras, from East LA, and indie mambo Orkesta Mendoza, from Tucson,  offer some of the freshest, most innovative and provocative sounds in contemporary Latin music. Each band takes turns in the spotlight for globalFEST: The New Golden Age of Latin Music. 

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These blended styles and shared cultural identities are coming to Norton Center’s Newlin Hall, Wednesday. From funky mambo to post-punk to traditional Afro-Caribbean, these groups create truly one-of-a-kind and wildly vibrant sounds. Their music, in English, Spanish and Spanglish, tells stories of a community that is looking for love and fighting for justice, and will have audiences dancing in their seats.

Orkesta Mendoza mixes a multitude of Latin styles, like cumbia, merengue and ranchera, with traditional mambo. Originally formed as a tribute to “King of Mambo” Pérez Prado, Orkesta Mendoza has morphed into a gorgeous, high-energy sound that comes from deep in the Sonoran Desert and pulls influences from both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

If you’ve never seen Orkesta Mendoza live, it’s a little bit like walking into a different era,” says NPR. “The six-piece group sets up like a big band, even wearing matching suits. The highly stylized, crisp look mirrors the band’s precise execution of the music, resulting in electric live shows packed with crowds of sweaty people where it’s not unusual to just start dancing with a stranger.”

Las Cafeteras

Las Cafeteras creates a vibrant musical fusion with a unique East LA sound and positive message. Their Afro-Mexican beats, rhythms, and rhymes deliver inspiring lyrics that document stories of a community seeking. Using traditional Son Jarocho instruments like the jarana, requinto, quijada (donkey jawbone) and tarima (a wooden platform), Las Cafeteras use music as a vehicle to build bridges among different cultures and communities, and create a world where many worlds fit.

If you’re not sure about all the funky terms describing Las Cafeteras and Orkesta Mendoza …” said Norton Center Executive Director Steve Hoffman,  “… focus on two things: their music is upbeat and their energetic performances are unforgettable. The beauty of world music is that the songs tell personal stories with which we can connect, whether or not we know exactly what the words mean. The key to these two bands is that they infuse their traditional Latin cultures with their American identities and interests to create synergy and community.”

globalFEST is a non-profit organization that curates in both performing arts and commercial settings, including influential events like SXSW, Bonnaroo, Lincoln Center Out of Doors as well as internationally at Festival d’Ile de France, and for socially conscious brands including TOMS. These opportunities raise the profile and visibility of globalFEST artists and builds audiences by having them appear on unexpected stages where more general music fans have the opportunity to discover the excitement of global sounds.


Las Cefeteras and Orkesta Mendoza will be performing 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Centre College’s Norton Center for the Arts. Tickets, priced at $15, $28, and $38, are available at www.NortonCenter.com or by calling the box office at (859) 236-4692. 


A Latin American street fair will be available in the Norton Center grand foyer before the show, featuring cuisine by Chef Miguel Rivas. The tasting is free. 

Artists will offer community engagement events

While in residence at the Norton Center, Orkesta Mendoza and Las Cafeteraswill participate in a number of free community engagement activities. All events are free, held in Weisiger Theatre and open to the public unless otherwise noted. They include: 

Mujer Soy: Reclaiming Identity, Sisterhood, and Mujerismo, 9:40-11:10 a.m. Tuesday — Join the womyn of Las Cafeteras in an interactive dialogue focused on breaking down social and cultural influences on female identity, perceptions of gender, privilege & power, and reclaiming the diversity of womyn’s experiences. Free event. 

• Racism: Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That, 11:20-12:20 p.m. Tuesday—  This participatory discussion breaks down stereotypes, uses ‘conscious comedy,’ and engages students and staff in new conversations about race, identity and privilege. Free event. This is a Creative Conversation event — conversations that shine a light on human interests, current events and issue-based topics that may challenge our everyday thinking, increase our awareness, and help us to expand our exploration of the human condition. 

• Living on the Borderline: Cuban and Mexican Identity in Music, 12:40-2:10 p.m. Tuesday — Orkesta Mendoza and Las Cafeteras discuss how their identity manifest in their music, and how it speaks to the transformation of traditional music. Free event. 

The Sounds of Resistance: From Storytelling to Movement Building, 7-9 p.m. Monday — Orkesta Mendoza and Las Cafeteras address their respective practices and how you can start your own movement, right now. A free community workshop event. 

• Religious Diversity & Respect Through Music, 12:20-1:40 p.m. Tuesday — A workshop with Las Cafeteras.

• What Can You Do With a Cajón? 3-4 p.m. Wednesday — A workshop with Orkesta Mendoza.

• Bring Your Own Instrument 5-6 p.m. Wednesday in Newlin Hall — Come hang out and jam with Orkesta Mendoza and Las Cafeteras. Those interested must RSVP to Jessica.durham@centre.edu