That's My Jam!: Very Be Careful's Cumbia Substrain

Categories: That's My Jam!
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Very Be Careful
Thankfully, not all dance music being made these days is electronic. Were that the case, our world's history of upbeat (and downtempo) grooves would be entirely erased from memory. Cumbia is one such style of old, rhythmic music, born a long time ago in Colombia. Its slow bouncing rhythms, traditional instrumentation, and earnest vocal melodies are still widely popular today -- and not just in South America. Local parties like Tormenta Tropical push the music -- both in traditional and contemporary forms -- from soundsystems every month. L.A.'s Very Be Careful carry the torch of a special strain of cumbia, called vallenato.

What makes Very Be Careful's style a bit separate from cumbia is its particularly stripped-down instrumentation. On "La Abeja," for example, the band only uses an accordion, a guacharaca (a stick-like percussion instrument), a campana (a bell of sorts), a bass guitar, and a caja vellanata (a small drum). The result certainly sounds as if it comes from another place and time, but that's part of Very Be Careful's allure; the band is something of an anomaly coming from the patently contemporary Southern California music scene. Make sure not to miss Very Be Careful's international sounds when they play The Rickshaw Stop tomorrow, July 15 with Franco Nero, Intl Freakout DJs, and more.

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