The upbeat rhythms of Chico Mann were brought to Sol Collective on Thursday, April 28. Bringing his East Coast sound to Sacramento, Chico Mann delighted his audience with his mixture of Cuban beats, freestyle and a great electronic sound.
The event was part of the Global Hood Music Series that showcases artists rooted in traditional ancestral music and who have grown up in a global technological era that helps them create unique global music. Straight out of New Jersey, he has been exposed to Latin rhythms since birth and is now sharing his own style with his fans on this tour.
As I made my way into Sol Collective I was introduced to Andrew “Defeye” Bell who wears several hats for the Collective including Press and Marketing. DJ Crook was already mixing it up as guests began to arrive.
I looked around for Chico Mann to see if I could chat with him for a little while before he took the stage. I couldn’t find him for a while and while searching for the Mann I ran into Will Rodriguez, Art Director and Partner for Umbrella Haus. He had seen Chico Mann earlier in the evening walking around and suggested I look outside.
DJ Crook was doing his thing as more guests made their way to Sol for the evening’s performance. One of the guests, Rita, was looking forward to taking the dance floor and was wondering how big of a crowd there would be at the event. Juan Manuel, another guest had just moved from southern California and I tried to be a good ambassador for Sacramento I told him about the many musical events that would be coming to Sacramento in the next few months. Estella Sanchez, Executive Director, and one of Sol’s founders was on site making sure things flowed well.
Off in the distance I spotted Chico Mann and followed him to the back of Sol Collective. I introduced myself and sat with him for a few questions.
Question (Q): Can you tell me your name or the name you like to go by?
Chico Mann (CM): I like to go by the name Chico Mann.
Q: Is Chico Mann a one man group?
CM: Yeah, I’m a one man show these days.
Q: How long have you been playing music?
CM: Since I was a little kid really. My dad was a record producer so I grew up in the business and I’ve been playing music since I was about 7.
Q: How did you come up with the name Chico Mann?
CM: It’s from the movie Wild Style. It comes from a line in the movie where they say “What the bleep chico man?” Like “shut the bleep up chico man.” That’s where it comes from.
Q: How long have you been Chico Mann?
CM: I’ve been producing under the name Chico Mann going on for about 7 years.
Q: Do you do a lot of touring?
CM: Yeah, I’ve been on the road. I’ve played with a group called Antibalas and toured with them for many years and the last 2 or 3 years I’ve been touring more with Chico Mann. I’m still playing with Antibalas but we don’t tour as much anymore.
Q: Have you played here in Sacramento before?
CM: Yeah, this is actually my second time here at Sol Collective.
Q: Will you be in Sacramento for a little bit and where are you off to next?
CM: I’m going to Vancouver tomorrow. Then it’s San Francisco, down the coast and then across Texas to Miami and then back up to New York.
Q: Where in New York do you come from?
CM: I live in Jersey City.
Q: Do you have family in the west coast?
CM: Not that I know of but there’s a lot of us so it’s possible.
Q: When you travel are you by yourself or do you have a group of people traveling with you?
CM: It depends on the trip but this trip it’s just me, solo. I was thinking about buying a chihuahua to keep me company (he laughs).
Q: It looks like you tour quite a bit are you always on the road?
CM: I tour very consistently. Now a days with the state of the music business people don’t really buy CDs as much so that means I go on the road more.
Q: I was looking at some of your youtube videos today and was wondering if you do many videos.
CM: YouTube is fascinating to me. I’m fascinated when people go to YouTube to hear music. That to me was a revelation; it’s kind of an inspiration to start making more videos. I guess people are drawn visually primarily because of TV culture. It makes perfect sense. It never was my first inclination to go look there for music. If I wanted to hear music I didn’t think ‘let me go to YouTube’ but now I get it.
Q: Do you have any new recordings coming up?
CM: I released the last album Analog Drift, that came out in November on the Wax Poetics Record label and I’m working on the next one. I hope to finish that around the fall/winter time period and then hopefully release it in the spring or summer of 2012. It all depends on how much I’m on the road it’s always a juggling act of being on the road and being in the studio.
Chico Mann came through as a well spoken and personable artist. I thanked him for his time and wished him continued success.
Back at the main area at Sol Collective, Anand Parmar took to the DJ table and got the audience moving. Chico Mann also came out and spent some time with people on the floor. As the DJs were spinning their tunes a projector showed images that seemed to go with the music. The images were projected to the wall on the right of the stage and a light show from behind the stage showed through the evening. My attention was captivated by images of Soul Train playing on the wall, reminding me of the old days in L.A.
DJ Whores continued the DJ set and it appeared that many more guests had arrived. Anand Parmar took the microphone and kept the audience going and introduced who was at the DJ table. He asked the audience to move closer to the stage as Chico Mann was about to take the stage.
“This is one of our favorite artists out here at Sol Collective, for real!” Anand said. “Let’s get real serious and ask everybody to come up. This music is energy, so I’m going to ask you to come up and be part of this energy! Let’s get a little intimate here. So, without further ado, ladies and gentlemen Chico Mann!”
“I’ll like to thank you for being here tonight. This is an oasis Sacramento California. I came a long way from Jersey City, New Jersey and this is one of my favorite places to be.” Chico said and continued. “I feel blessed to be here and share this time with you.”
Soon, electronic sounds emanated to fill the main room at Sol Collective and rhythmic drum beats started the audience to move up to the dance floor. Afrobeats and Latin rhythms moved the audience closer to the stage to enjoy the soulful sounds of Chico Mann. Synthesized sounds complemented the rhythms and you could feel yourself losing control of your feet and then the upper body as the energy began to move your body to the sounds of Makoss.
Chico Mann’s soulful Latino lyrics flowed with the sounds he created making this a real one man band as he captivated the audience from beginning to end.
As Chico continued to send out some dope beats people moved to the dance floor as he played Dilo Como Yo and other songs with Spanish lyrics and the ever present Afrobeats. Global music sung in different languages with sounds that originated from old African and Latin roots go great with electronica or at least how Chico Mann plays it does.
Chico Mann gave a great performance into early Friday morning. His tour that started on April 16 moves to Vancouver on Friday and on Saturday he comes back our way to San Francisco. Log on to his website for more information or follow Chico Mann via Facebook, My Space, and Twitter.
Sol Collective did a great job hosting this show and it becomes clear why Chico Mann’s visits to Sacramento have been at Sol.