Boogaloo is the original NYC hybrid, blending classic Latin rhythms and instrumentation with popular Harlem 60s pop and soul. It has made a local come back with bands like Spanglish Fly at the helm.
“You want to get with me, you better learn how to ride bike,” lead singer Erica Ramos declares from the stage at Brooklyn’s Battle of the Boroughs. Spanglish Fly is an eleven-piece outfit fronted by the energetic alto who has a knack for getting the audience involved in the show. At Barbes or Nublu, where they play regularly, the band teaches concertgoers to shake something in twos, with a boogaloo twirl that gets the dance floor going strong.
“Yeah Baby, you got it,” Erica will exclaim with a nod, encouraging participants to take advantage of the percussion, horns, piano and guitars that grace the stage in easy rhythms and choral cheers. Spanglish Fly usually does two sets of classics mixed up with original songs like “Me Gusta Mi Bicicleta” and “Let My People Boogaloo.” The players are a bit like the songs, a blend of seasoned musicians alongside young feistier counterparts. The entire unit is fueled by smiles and bounce with cozy renditions of tunes in a relaxed homage to mid-century organ and drums plus island music en español. The band looks to enjoy the whole arrangement, generating live party music rooted in NYC history.
This next week Spanglish Fly joins their regular collaborator in festejar, DJ Turmix, whose monthly in the East Village has helped to rev up the retro fire surrounding boogaloo boogie down. The group will bring their usually late-night festivities to an early situation at Le Poisson Rouge.
Johnny Colon is a legendary performer from the original era and headlines the show being held to benefit the East Harlem Music School. DJ Turmix organized the event and brought in the band that includes ten bopping instrumentalists, one flirting and vamping hot-cookie of a singer in updo and tattoos, and an audience of dancing duos. Outside there will no doubt be a sidewalk full of bicicletas parked and ready to ride.