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King Chango

In the mid-'90s, many considered the multimembered New York City act King Chango to be part of the larger constellation of ska revival acts flourishing in that city. But the band's musical roots ran deeper than many of its peers'. Yes, the "Chango" in its name is indeed a nod to the Yoruba god, and the band was also founded by Venezuelan-born Andrew "Blanquito Man" Blanco. As such, King Chango brought a hard-charging sound to its brass section, with a larger section of the Caribbean and Latin America influencing its sonic brew. The Latin touch also helped the band escape much of the derision later lobbed at the more purist ska acts, and King Chango was gleefully embraced by the Latin alternative scene in its later years. Another way in which the band stood out was with its openly political lyrics. In the later years of the band, for instance, it has vocally supported the removal of U.S. troops from the Puerto Rican island of Vieques.

Although King Chango officially disbanded in 2003, Blanco announced earlier this year on his Blogspot blog that the group was officially back together. Since then, it's appeared at a number of industry showcases like the Latin American Music Conference and CMJ and launched a few national tour dates. With a new (and coed!) lineup, the band's sound is even more boisterous and Latin but still touches on the influence of Jamaican beats. Fans should feel especially lucky about catching this show too — Blanco was recently rushed to the hospital for emergency gallbladder surgery, forcing the cancellation of two shows in his native Venezuela. This show at the North Beach Bandshell, though, should find him in high spirits and ready again to party for a revolution.

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