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Los Madrugadores: Los Madrugadores, 1931-1937

Los Madrugadores, 1931-1937 (Arhoolie Folklyric 7035; 77:15) is some of the hippest archival American music most people have never heard. Mexican music is a rich, unjustly neglected terrain, too often dismissed as kitsch in the areas of the U.S. that were once part of Mexico. Los Madrugadores (a.k.a. “The Early Risers,” after the early hours of their radio broadcasts) were popular in Los Angeles in the ’30s, becoming pioneers in the field of a Mexican-American music which literally reached across borders on the democratic forum of the radio.

Led by Pedro Gonzalez, the group offered a vocal harmony-enriched sound, guitars, both strummed with rhythmic propulsion and with melodic single-line flights threaded throughout. The bright, jubilant quality of the music contrasts with the darker fate of Gonzalez’s life: he was sent to San Quentin on a bogus rape charge and later deported back to Mexico. He came back north to live in San Ysidro (near San Diego) and died at the age of 99. All the while, he maintained a dedication to activism and to the cause of song.

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