Catalina Maria Johnson

International radio broadcaster, bilingual cultural journalist, music curator


“The name “Locos por Juana” came about because we noticed all our first songs were about women”, says Itaguí Correa, lead vocalist and one of the three founders of the Miami-based band. He continues to explain:  “Juana became like a mythical character of womanhood that inspires all of us.”

Locos Por Juana has been together for about ten years, but two Grammy nominations (one Latin, one American) and a series of festival gigs in recent years has brought the grass-roots troupe to national attention after achieving a fair amount of recognition in the Miami area.

Its nucleus is formed by vocalist Correa from from Medellin, Colombia, drummer Javier Delgado from Barranquilla, Colombia and guitarist Mark Kondrat whose parents hail from the Ukraine and Colombia. They are regularly joined by trombonist Lasim Richards and percussionist Carlos Palmet, and guest musicians usually also join the band onstage.

Correa describes how band’s heritage shows up naturally in their sound – his own native city of Medellin, is renowned for its salsa tradition and he adds “we even have a tradition called ‘carrilera’ music that has strong ties to Mexico and mariachis.” Guitarrist Delgado’s hometown of Barranquilla is the birthplace of the cumbia. Altogether, their grooves, he says, take in influences from Bob Marley and Hector Lavoe to Santana and Vicente Fernandez, with a hearty dose of afro-colombian rhythms and Caribbean reggae, dancehall and ragga as well as hip-hop and funk.

They are now in the process of mixing their third record, “Somos de la Calle” (We are from the streets). Correa comments that they chose that title because: “We felt we had a duty to celebrate and pay homage to everyone on the street, from the homeless person to the newspaper vendor”.  He adds that the band members are very aware of the message they wish to deliver: “There’s always social commentary in our music. Respect to women, respect in society, singing to happiness – a conscious party!”

It’s always about the possibilities of art to bring people together, he concludes: “We have to be humble about music and its power, particularly when you add the power of the mike. Only two kinds of people can really deliver a message and have power over the mike – politicians or artists. Like Ruben Blades said, artists have to be conscious that they are all messengers. When artists understand that, they will make better art. It’s more than being about money, it’s what we are here to do in this life.”

Locos por Juana will perform at Reggie’s Music Joint April 29.

Check Catalina’s blog and the archives of Beat Latino  (like Beat Latino on FBtoo!) to explore the roots as well as trends in Latin musical arts.


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