I saw Rana Santacruz’s band at Union Hall and Barbes, at the opening of Salon Hecho and during the Latin Alternative Music Festival. This Friday they play Casa Mezcal just in time to spike your St. Patrick’s Day pre-party with agave good times.
I thought I would be uncovering some Sonic Hot Sauce on this page but it turns out Rana, “Frog” in Spanish, has been making the media rounds almost since his band started their fiddle and accordion romance with Brooklyn. He spins a great story and his band of banjo, upright bass, drums, violin, trumpet and guitar builds folds Americana into Mexican ranchera and mariachi. If you like bluegrass and sailor shanties, but you like your bards spicy and your lyrics foreign, Friday at Casa Mezcal will fiesta you just right.
Metro spoke with Rana this week about Tom Waits and magical surrealist moustaches.
Your background is Irish and Mexican, is that correct?
Unfortunately there’s not Irish blood in me that I know of. But when I grow a beard sections of it are actually red! Maybe I am somehow the product of the St Patrick’s Battalion. I love that story. In the Mexican-American War there was a group of Irishmen fighting with the Americans but eventually they realized they had more in common with the Mexicans so they ended up flipping sides and fighting with Mexico against the U.S. Maybe my great-great grandfather was one of those Irish soldiers and fell in love with a Mexican girl.
Did you grow up listening to any traditional Irish music?
It was not until I was a teenager that I discovered Irish music and it blew my mind! I would play the Pogues and the Chieftains in parties in Mexico expecting people to jump and dance and most of the time that would just kill the party.
What’s your idea of an excellent St. Patrick’s Day in NYC?
Drinking a Guinness and an Irish whiskey. Going to hear live Irish music. Ideally The Chieftains or The Pogues and after the show drink Guinness and Irish whiskey.
What are you currently writing? Any more folktales in the works?
Yes! I am currently writing a song about a guy that wants to steal Vicente Fernandez’s (very famous Mexican ranchera singer) moustache in order to inherit his singing powers.
Rana Santacruz plays at 8:30pm at Casa Mezcal on 86 Orchard Street