Los Alacranes to Perform at Adams Ave Street Fair
Los Alacranes (The Scorpions) are a local Mexican folk quartet founded by Chunky Sanchez. “We do cumbia and norteno styles, with accordion and guitars and traditional folklore instruments,” he says. Their roots go back to the activist 1970’s and the creation of Chicano Park. Los Alacranes will appear as part of the lineup at the Adams Avenue Street Fair Saturday September 24.
Dave Good: You were around for the takeover of the Centro Cultural de la Raza in Balboa Park, yes?
Chunky Sanchez: “Yeah, that was back in 1970 for me.”
Los Alacranes started in 1976. How has the band changed over the years?
Sanchez: “We began with a lot of activist music, from the United Farm workers to the Chicano movement. Things of that nature, protest music from Mexico and South America. And then we got into some folk lore, a lot of old music, and we began to write a lot of our own stuff. “Chicano Park, “Chorizo Sandwich.” “Rising Souls” is another good one. Songs like were also dealing with certain issues and topics in the community and in everyday life. ‘Educate, don’t incarcerate’ is the coda from “Rising Souls.” Songs about every day scenarios. What am I trying to say – chingaderas? You know, like goofing around and shit like that.”
Are you writing new music about the politics of the day? I’m confused by the government’s rather arbitrary and conflicting actions toward Hispanics. Are you?
Sanchez: “I’m not confused. Actually, it’s been going on for a long time, ever since the border went up and the border conference was held in the 1800’s. That’s why some of those guys shot it out with the rangers at the time, you know, back in the 1850’s. That’s when the Mexican ballad was born, the corrido, which means ballad. What’s going on right now is just carrying on from what happened back in the 1800’s. And now with the whole drug scene and everything else, there’s even more shootings.”
Sanchez: “The other thing is we always seem to be the scapegoat for everything. These guys think if something goes wrong, it must be our fault. If there’s a hurricane, it’s our fault. If there’s an earthquake it’s our fault. Three Mexicans standing on California.” He laughs. “If there’s a problem with the language, it’s our fault. I was born and raised in California in a small farming town called Blythe. I remember as a kid we were told not to speak Spanish on the school campus. It was a denial of the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Article 8. Then, we lost our names. My name is Ramon. By the second grade, I was Raymond. And somehow along the line, I became Chunky.” He laughs.
How often does Los Alacranes perform these days?
Chunky: “So many we lose count. Unlike other bands, we’re available during the week. There’s always one or two of us who are unemployed, so we’re available. We’ve done clubs, restaurants, a lot of house parties, and a lot of social organizations.”
What are you planning for Adams Avenue?
Sanchez: “A variety of things. Some political stuff, some folk stuff, some humorous stuff. A little bit of everything. A little Willie Nelson, a little Hank Williams. We don’t put any borders on the music we play. Once you put borders on something, you begin to define it too much and it loses that freedom that it has.”
You used to call yourselves Los Alacranes Mojados, meaning the Wetback Scorpions.
Sanchez: We used that negative term among our own people. We tried to give it a positive connotation through the music. After a while, we cut the name down because it was too long, and besides that, we kinda like to joke around. People ask us, well, how come you’re not the mojados any more? I say, ‘cause we got amnesty.”
More like this:
- Transcending Barriers — July 19, 2018
- Late life for the San Diego Music Awards — Nov. 16, 2016
- Local Filmmaker Asks for Community Support — July 1, 2011
- Immigrant Song — July 7, 2010
- Al Ducheny fights the old guard — Chunky Sanchez, Rachel Ortiz, Jess Haro — June 12, 1986