Musicians from Guadalajara and Seattle have struck up a relationship that has resulted in bands in each city traveling to the other to perform.
Seattle and Guadalajara’s musical connection started through the admiration of a standard issue piece of rock ’n’ roll clothing.
“We were at a mescal bar in Guadalajara and there was this guy in this leather jacket,” Guadalajaran musician Vicco Gonzalez said about the meeting in 2013. “It was so cool — like aesthetically, it was just buttons and a nice dark color — so my friend started talking to the guy who was wearing it. The guy was named Lars [Swenson], he was from Seattle and played in the band Bread & Butter.”
The two became fast friends, but the connection was somewhat lost until about a year later, when Gonzalez and his bandmate Benjamin Zarate headed north from Mexico and needed a gig in Seattle with their band at the time, Dorotheo.
“We were invited to tour with our old band to California and Portland by some other [American] friends,” said Gonzalez. “So, we thought, why don’t we go up to Seattle to see Lars, too?”
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With Swenson’s help, the group got booked at Northwest Psych Fest, the annual music festival held at Ballard’s Sunset Tavern. There, they met festival organizer Nick Arthur and heard from some of Seattle’s biggest talent in “creative,” boundary-pushing music, bands like Cabana, Corespondents and Diminished Men.
“My mind was blown. We loved the seek of originality and how they were pushing for new sounds,” said Zarate, “it was different than what we’d heard in L.A. and the Bay Area. There are master musicians here in Seattle.”
The relationship between the colorful city in central Mexico and Seattle makes sense. Both cities are the cultural centers of their states. Both are teeming with soccer fans and both have thriving underground rock-music scenes.
During the past month, Olie Eshleman of Corespondents and other hosts like Kieran Harrison, Annie Ford and Gabe Seaver have booked Gonzalez and Zarate’s band, Arango, to play all over the region, including Port Townsend, Olympia and Salem, Oregon. They’ve also downed ample drink and shared the best South American food in town: La Cabaña and Mendoza’s Mexican Mercada that Zarate says, “tastes like home.”
The couches of musicians across Seattle this summer were occupied by three Guadalajaran…