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Latin Fusion 

Chiringa! celebrates the release of its new album, "Familia," with a huge dance party

Fans of live music in Bend have no doubt shaken their booties to the Latin-influenced sounds of ¡Chiringa!. Lead singer Shireen Amini has been a staple in the Bend music scene, bringing her Latin-flavored jams to the masses. ¡Chiringa! brings together local musicians Johnny Riordan on congas and timbales, Tom Freedman on bass and trumpet and Matthew Williams on drum kit.

"I didn't necessarily ever plan to have a Latin fusion band or do a Latin album in my music career, though I had written salsas before," Amini says. "When I threw this band together years ago for a Cinco de Mayo festival, I realized that we could represent some complex and danceable Latin rhythms in a 'rock band' format, which made a lot of thirsty Latin dancers happy, but it also allowed us to blend in funk, rock, reggae styles into the sound, which I think made it more accessible to people intrigued by, but less familiar with, Latin music."

¡Chiringa! not only appeals to the human need to dance, but also introduces Latin rhythms and culture to a music scene that, until recently, had been lacking that style. For their album release show at The Old Stone Church on Friday, June 23, ¡Chiringa! Brings in local Latin dancer and instructor Andrés Garcia to provide dance lessons ahead of the band's performance. Their partnership with Garcia helps connect prospective Latin dance students with a knowledgeable teacher.

"For this show, we wanted to give our attendees as much bang for their buck as possible. Food, dance lesson and great music," Amini says. "We hope they will receive our offering and celebrate this huge accomplishment with us!"

On Friday, ¡Chiringa! Celebrates the release of its debut album, "Familia." Some songs on the album originated years ago, while others came more recently in the album creation cycle. Once they made it a band goal to produce an album within the year, the songwriting process moved quickly. Amini's songwriting skills developed thanks in part to participation in the Americana Song Academy, part of the Sisters Folk Festival.

"I want the songs to carry an energy and the lyrics help reinforce that energy with a message, a combination of festive themes mixed with some more serious or emotional content," Amini says. "I was very directly influenced by Nahko and Medicine for the People on the song, 'When You Wake.' I feel really connected to Nahko's sound and values and his most recent album in particular, called 'Hoka,' inspired me to return to some of my roots in some more rap-style lyric writing with more raw and personal lyrics."

Despite the fun, party sound ¡Chiringa! has become known for, Amini and the band faced challenges along the way. Amini loved the challenge of writing songs in Spanish. Though it was her first language, she had to relearn it after her family moved to California from Puerto Rico when she was three.

Shortly after finishing all of the instrumental tracks, right before she began recording the final vocal parts, Amini was diagnosed with vocal cord nodules. The diagnosis required she take a two week vocal rest. During that time, she did one percussion recording session without any speaking.

"It was uncertain if my voice was going to be recovered in time to record final vocals on the album for it to be done by our Summer 2017 deadline," Amini says. "While this put some stress on the process, we were able to rearrange our approach until my voice was well enough to record and somehow we managed to still finish the album on time."

Fortunately, Amini was able to get the vocal rest she needed to record the final vocals and finish "Familia." The album draws inspiration from a variety of Amini's personal experiences. Amini wrote the aptly titled "Sheila E," on a wave of inspiration after opening for the legendary drummer at the Tower Theatre in February 2016. "Los Bellos" was written in response to the shootings in Orlando in June 2016. "Vitamin P" draws on the dance party vibe often experienced at a ¡Chiringa! show.

"I would like people to feel like part of our family," Amini says. "I would love for people to be moved and uplifted by the spirit of this music and connect to it in whatever way is meaningful for them. It would be awesome if they were inspired to connect more with Latin American culture because of it. Of course, we hope people will want to dance and sing along!"


Fri., June 23. 7pm.

The Old Stone

157 NW Franklin Ave., Bend.

$5-$15 sliding scale.

About The Author

Anne Pick

Music Writer | The Source Weekly
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