Think rock and roll and Hispanic culture go together about as well as meatloaf and guacamole? Think again. For a couple of generations now, hipsters across the Hispanic world have been banging their heads to what’s known south of the border as rocanrol!
They’ve been rocanroleando – rocking – for decades. And, for this weekend only, you can catch performance artist Quique Avilés, backed by the local band Machetres, in a unique combination of the history and music. El Canuto del Rock is a one-act play featuring Don Amadeo Martinez, a campesino-turned-DJ, who transforms a radio station deep inside rural El Salvador into an outpost of Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and The Beatles.
Avilés, a Salvadoran native who wrote the script, has been producing thought-provoking theater and poetry in the District for decades. This time around, he offers some backstory on our local Salvadoran community. But don’t go for the schooling! Avilés delivers a belly-achingly funny performance accompanied by the hard-rocking covers of Machetres, our own Latino version of an almost-famous rock band. Besides rocanroleando around town, Machetres has played with Café Tabuca, Fugazi and Molotov. Interesting bit of trivia: The band is named for the machetres, a machete tied to a rifle that became a weapon of choice during Central America’s civil wars that brought D.C. its first wave of Salvadoran residents in the 1980s.
I’ll admit I’m a fan of rocanrol, a gusto developed during my rookie foreign correspondent days in Mexico City, where I covered rock bands during lulls in the breaking news. I’ve also written about Latino rockers in this country.
But you don’t need to know the history or even the language to enjoy El Canuto del Rock. Like its story, the play unfolds bilingually. While it helps to know some Spanish – particularly to pick up on the many marijuana jokes – subtitles scroll across a screen above the stage.
There are only two more shows – tonight and tomorrow night – at el Teatro Hispano GALA in Columbia Heights. For $20 a ticket, it’s money well spent. So, find out for yourself how well roc + rol go together.
Come to think of it, meatloaf and guacamole might not be a bad combination either.