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Dante Loaiza’s Maracuya: one of the largest working bands in show business

Discover the Latin version of Earth Wind & Fire and Kool & the Gang

Dante Loaiza loves that fat, funky sound.
Dante Loaiza loves that fat, funky sound.

Dante Loaiza, late of Agua Dulce and currently of Maracuya, knows both sides of the border, and he allows that weirdness can break out on either side. “In Tijuana, we had one [gig] where some drunk guy unplugged our sound and yelled he was going home to grab his gun and shoot us. When he got in his car, the host and some other people said, ‘Yeah, that guy will kill you,’ so we had to pack up quick and get out.” Another time, “We got hired to play a gig by the Otay border. It was an empty warehouse with just one beautifully restored classic pickup truck inside. The gig went fine, though we only ended up playing for like 12 to 15 people. We all thought there was something odd there. Two weeks later, they busted the place because it was the end of a drug tunnel.”

Agua Dulce got started in the late ’90s, but “ended slowly.” Apparently, the drummer got sick, and then everyone had careers and families to think of. But the demise of that group set the stage for the Timba music of Loaiza’s band Maracuya. “I always loved 1970s and ’80s funk like Earth Wind & Fire and Kool & the Gang, big bands with a horn section and percussion. To me, Timba was the Latin version, but just as funky, while still maintaining the Latin improvisational style. It’s just a more modern, fatter, funky sound that I fell in love with.”

At 16 strong, Maracuya is one of the largest working bands in the area. “Bass, guitar, two keyboard players, drums, timbales, congas, guiro, two trombones, trumpet, sax, three backup singers, and myself on lead vocals. It’s definitely hard to get everyone together, but we do a few section rehearsals before getting the whole band in the same room.”

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Dante Loaiza loves that fat, funky sound.
Dante Loaiza loves that fat, funky sound.

Dante Loaiza, late of Agua Dulce and currently of Maracuya, knows both sides of the border, and he allows that weirdness can break out on either side. “In Tijuana, we had one [gig] where some drunk guy unplugged our sound and yelled he was going home to grab his gun and shoot us. When he got in his car, the host and some other people said, ‘Yeah, that guy will kill you,’ so we had to pack up quick and get out.” Another time, “We got hired to play a gig by the Otay border. It was an empty warehouse with just one beautifully restored classic pickup truck inside. The gig went fine, though we only ended up playing for like 12 to 15 people. We all thought there was something odd there. Two weeks later, they busted the place because it was the end of a drug tunnel.”

Agua Dulce got started in the late ’90s, but “ended slowly.” Apparently, the drummer got sick, and then everyone had careers and families to think of. But the demise of that group set the stage for the Timba music of Loaiza’s band Maracuya. “I always loved 1970s and ’80s funk like Earth Wind & Fire and Kool & the Gang, big bands with a horn section and percussion. To me, Timba was the Latin version, but just as funky, while still maintaining the Latin improvisational style. It’s just a more modern, fatter, funky sound that I fell in love with.”

At 16 strong, Maracuya is one of the largest working bands in the area. “Bass, guitar, two keyboard players, drums, timbales, congas, guiro, two trombones, trumpet, sax, three backup singers, and myself on lead vocals. It’s definitely hard to get everyone together, but we do a few section rehearsals before getting the whole band in the same room.”

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