Native PA to throw a community-wide party for a musical comeback
Jose Ray Riojas is motivated by two things: the familia and the Cumbia.
The Port Arthur native, 30, always laughs and smiles like a schoolboy when he thinks about the day he met his wife, Sylvia. His voice is boastful when he says of his five children, his youngest – the only girl in the group – is the most bossy, the most aggressive. He likes that “the queen” of the house gives strength to their “little girl”.
But the percussive rhythms of cumbia, a genre of Latin American music close to salsa, gripped Riojas as a child. He said he couldn’t walk past a table without pretending it was drums. Anything he could scratch could quickly become a makeshift guiro – a hollow instrument with outer ridges that produce a high-pitched ratchet sound when rubbed with teeth or a stick.
âCumbia is in my blood,â Riojas said at his Port Arthur home on Friday, laughing. âIt’s a distinct Latin rhythmic music that’s very popular in Hispanic culture. It’s the kind of music that grabs you.
âAs far back as I can remember, I turned anything I could get my hands on into an instrument. It’s my roots. My father was from PalaÃº, Coahuila, a small town in northern Mexico, a lovely town. I was born in Port Arthur, but we actually have a lot of Palau living here. I always liked being able to still grow in this type of music.
Riojas said he started producing Cumbia music for other bands in 2006. But after six years of collaborating and producing albums to gain the approval of others, he decided to take a break and to work on his own sound.
He started his own production company, Loz 409 Boyz, in 2012 and, for the past three years, has worked with artists and producers in Port Arthur, Houston and his father’s hometown of PalaÃº to create his own album.
To mark his return to the music scene, Loz 409 Boyz will be hosting a community-wide album release party on Saturday for Riojas’ personal debut album, “Para La Carbonifera”.
âIn PalaÃº Coahuila, they produce energy with carbon from black coal, and many miners have lost their lives using this black coal. I dedicate this album to the miners who have died and to those who still work, in and out of these black carbon mines every day, earning a living to provide for their families, âRiojas said. âAs a producer for myself this time, I did it all. I left almost every weekend to work on my album. I put all my heart, soul and dedication into it.
âAll ideas are my own taste. It’s not like what I did with other bands where it was more of a collaboration or I just did what they asked. With this album, it’s mine. It all depends on what Ray would want in an album. And I will be very proud to show it tomorrow.
Riojas said Cumbia has a distinct beat, driven by a hearty percussion section. Many Cumbia groups incorporate cowbells, blocks, and timpani – shallow single-headed drums with metal housings – in addition to a full drum set.
âBut the heart of Cumbia,â Riojas added, âcomes from the guiro. It’s the unique instrument that gives the sound, the soul, the feel of Cumbia. It gives a very sharp and edgy sound, and you can play it in different ways.
âSome people here may be more familiar with Cajun music, but theirs doesn’t sound like that. Instead of the hollow (cylinder or gourd), they flatten it and turn it into more of a vest. They wedge it (the washboard) against their stomachs and scratch it.
Riojas said he hopes all of his âfriends, foes and comrades will come and supportâ his Cumbia movement this weekend for the album release night.
âIt’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I have spent years planning my future and see myself as a successful person. I’m living my dream right now, âRiojas said. âI’m delighted to be on stage after three years away, just making the album.
âI’m happy to give people the music they want. You must have the support of the people, and you must do good things to be blessed. I would like people to come and support me in this movement and I hope that everything will be successful.
The release party for the Loz 409 Boyz community-wide album “Para La Carbonifera” is scheduled from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturday at 4863 60e St. in Port Arthur.
Loz 409 Boyz will be joined by Tri-City DJs Ackinbadd and EZ 409, local rap group Paper Stack Records and one of Riojas’ former bands, Kumbion Zelekta.
All adults 18 and over are welcome to attend the BYOB event. Coverage fees of $ 10 for men and $ 5 for women will be charged at the door.
Copies of “Para La Carbonifera” will be available for $ 12.
For more information on the album or the release party, call Riojas at (409) 999-1225.
Twitter: @ crhenderson90