King Chango

In the mid-'90s, many considered the multimember New York City act King Chango to be part of the larger constellation of ska revival acts flourishing in the Big Apple. But the band's musical roots ran deeper than those of many of its peers. Yes, the "Chango" in its name is indeed a nod to the Yoruba god, and the band was also founded by the Venezuelan-born Andrew "Blanquito Man" Blanco. As such, King Chango brought a hard-charging sound to its brass section, with a larger section of the Caribbean and Latin America influencing its sonic brew. The Latin touch also helped the band escape much of the derision later lobbed at the more purist ska acts, and the Latin alternative scene gleefully embraced King Chango in its later years. Another way in which the band stood out was with its openly political lyrics. In recent years, for instance, the band has vocally supported the removal of U.S. troops from the Puerto Rican island of Vieques.

Though King Chango disbanded in 2003, Blanco announced earlier this year in a Blogspot post that the group was officially back together. Since then, it has appeared at a number of industry showcases, such as the Latin American Music Conference and CMJ, and has launched a few national tour dates. With a new (and coed!) lineup, the band delivers a sound that's even more boisterous and Latin, but it still touches on the influence of Jamaican beats. Fans should feel especially lucky about catching this show: Blanco was recently rushed to the hospital for emergency gallbladder surgery, forcing the cancellation of two shows in his native Venezuela. The band's performance at the North Beach Bandshell, though, should find him in high spirits and ready again to party for a revolution.

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