Quetzal (band)

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Quetzal 6273201.JPG
Background information
OriginEast Los Angeles, California, United States
GenresChicano rock, Alternative, Rock
Years active1990s - present
LabelsSon de Barrio, Vanguard Records, Smithsonian Folkways
MembersDr. Martha Gonzalez
Juan Perez
Quetzal Flores
Evan Greer
Alberto López
Tylana Enomoto
Past membersQuincy McCrary
Andy Mendoza
Rocio Marrón
Cesar Castro
Dante Pascuzzo
Edson Gianesi
Gabriel Gonzalez
Gabriel Tenorio
Peter Jacobson
WebsiteOfficial website

Quetzal is a bilingual (Spanish-English) Chicano rock band from East Los Angeles, California.


Martha Gonzalez of Quetzal, 2008

The band was founded by Quetzal Flores in 1993 in a Chicano owned cafe, Troy cafe, in the Little Tokyo neighborhood of Los Angeles. Martha Gonzalez joined the group in 1995.[1] They helped start the Seattle Fandango Project in 2009 when Martha Gonzalez moved to Seattle to complete her PhD in Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies at the University of Washington.[2][3][4][non-primary source needed]

Quetzal is an ensemble of musicians, joined for the goal of creating good music that tells the social, cultural, political, and musical stories of people in struggle. Martha Gonzalez, the band's lead singer, percussionist, and songwriter, calls it an “East LA Chican@ rock group,” summing up its roots in the complex cultural currents of life in the barrio, its social activism, its strong feminist stance, and its rock and roll musical beginnings.[5]

Music style[edit]

Quetzal plays a mix of Mexican and Afro-Cuban rhythms, jazz, rhythm and blues, and rock music. Inspired by the Zapatistas, they incorporate fandango and san jarocho in their music.[1]

In 1992, Chicano rock guitarist Quetzal Flores discovered the burgeoning revival of traditional music of Veracruz called son jarocho which is born from a community fiesta called a fandango. Quetzal Flores described the community of fandango in the L.A. area as a necessary practice because "I think it's because as human beings we are kind of lacking this sort of connection, like these one-on-one connections in this high tech world." Flores incorporated san jarocho and fandango into his own music style, which is influenced by The Smiths, Ruben Blades, Stevie Wonder, and others.[citation needed]

Flores’s approach to music was also influenced by the East L.A. musical scene of Mexican musica ranchera, salsa, Chicano Rock, R&B, and international popular music. Raised in a family of social activists, he saw music as a means to work for social justice as well as a form of creative expression. For the band, music expresses the ultimate struggle for dignity. [4]


Quetzal was featured in the soundtrack to the 2004 short film Stand Up For Justice: The Ralph Lazo Story.[citation needed] In 2013, the band won a Grammy for Best Latin Pop, Rock or Urban Album.[2] Martha Gonzalez and Quetzal Flores are co-producers of Entre Mujeres, a CD released in 2012. The band was invited to speak and perform in the U.S. Library of Congress and Kennedy Center's Homegrown music series. The Smithsonian Institution's traveling exhibit "American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music" feature Quetzal as leaders and innovators of Chicano music. Smithsonian Folkways label released the 2013 Grammy-winning CD Imaginaries, marking the importance of Gonzalez's past and ongoing work.[3] They have also been instrumental in developing Fandango Sin Fronteras, a dialog between Chicanos and Chicanas from California and jarochos-musicians who play the Veracruz style.[citation needed]

Quetzal's work has been the subject of a range of publications, including dissertations, scholarly books, and newspaper articles, most notably Patricia Zavella's I'm Neither Here Nor There: Mexicans' Quotidian Struggles with Migration and Poverty.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12][excessive citations]

Album: Imaginaries[edit]

Imaginaries refers to scholar Emma Pérez's book, The Decolonial Imaginary: Writing Chicanas into History. To the band it's about creating and occupying a physical and conceptual space outside the established structures of capitalism and government. It's a safe space created by neighbors, or musicians, or artists, or kids, or adults, or viejitos, or a combination of any of these. They're inspired to create community around music, a communion where the listener is as much musician as the people on the stage holding the instruments.[13]

Quetzal won the Grammy for Latin rock, urban or alternative album for its release Imaginaries (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings), a foray into cumbia, neo-'80s-style R&B, Cuban charanga and Brazilian pandeiro, charged with the band's collectivist political passion. It is the band's first Grammy.[2]

On Imaginaries, they combined the traditional son jarocho of Veracruz, salsa, R&B, and more to express the political and social struggle for self-determination and self-representation, which ultimately is a struggle for dignity. The albim had 12 tracks, 55 minutes, 40-page booklet with bilingual notes. This album is part of the Smithsonian Folkways Tradiciones/Traditions series of Latino music albums, produced with support by the Smithsonian Latino Center. [14]


Current band members[edit]

Former band members[edit]

  • Gabriel Tenorio
  • Gabriel Gonzalez
  • Daphne Chen
  • Kiko Cornejo Jr.
  • Dante Pascuzzo
  • Edson Gianesi
  • Danilo Torres
  • Camilo Landau
  • Rocio Marron
  • Ray Sandoval
  • Yunior Terry
  • Lilia Hernandez
  • Ruben Gomez
  • Maceo Hernandez
  • Robert Guerrero
  • Anton Morales
  • E Anthony Martinez


Solo albums
Compilation albums
  • A Fair Forgery of Pink Floyd (features Quetzal covering Pink Floyd's song "Mother")


  1. ^ a b "First Person: Quetzal". KCET. Archived from the original on 2014-06-05.
  2. ^ a b c "Quetzal's 'Imaginaries' wins Latin alternative award". Los Angeles Times. 10 February 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Women Who Rock Oral History Archive :: Martha Gonzalez".
  4. ^ a b "Martha Gonzalez - Chicana Artivista." MarthaGonzaleznet RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 May 2014.
  5. ^ "Quetzal - MarthaGonzalez.net". web.archive.org. 2022-03-31. Archived from the original on 2022-03-31. Retrieved 2022-09-01.
  6. ^ Patricia Zavella (2011), I′m Neither Here nor There: Mexicans' Quotidian Struggles with Migration and Poverty. Duke University Press
  7. ^ Luis Alvarez "Eastside Imaginaries: Toward a Relational and Transnational Chicana/o Cultural History" in A Promising Problem: The New Chicana/o History (Carlos Kevin Blanton, ed.) University of Texas Press, 2016.
  8. ^ Rob Rosenthal and Richard Flacks (2012) Playing for Change: Music and Musicians in the Service of Social Movements. Paradigm Press.
  9. ^ Balcomb, Hannah Eliza Alexia (2012) "Jaraneros and Jarochas: The Meanings of Fandangos and Son Jarocho in Immigrant and Diasporic Performance" UC Riverside Electronic Theses and Dissertations, Master's Thesis in Music
  10. ^ "Quetzal: 20 Years of Music, Community, and Activism". Artivist Entertainment. July 2014. Retrieved 2016-11-13.
  11. ^ Paige Osburn (July 17, 2014). "Quintessential East L.A. Band Quetzal Celebrates 20 Years". LA Weekly. Retrieved 2016-11-13.
  12. ^ Reed Johnson (March 30, 2012). "East L.A. band Quetzal's latest evolution includes Smithsonian". LA Times. Retrieved 2016-11-13.
  13. ^ Guzman-Lopez, Adolfo (March 2012). "L.A. Band Quetzal and Their Imaginaries". KCET. Kcet. Retrieved 2 June 2014.
  14. ^ "Imaginaries". Smithsonian Folkways. Retrieved 2 June 2014.

External links[edit]