Chicanx band brings Surf-Punk-Cumbia music to Arcata
There are many expectations and assumptions a visitor would be forgiven for making when it comes to Humboldt County and the surrounding area’s reputation. Namely, the brewing cannabis industry and its accompanying controversy – but something else is budding in Humboldt County, and that’s the local music scene.
El Leñador had the privilege and opportunity to meet with and watch Arcata’s newest exciting cultivation, the Surf-Punk-Cumbia band “Los Dune Bums” at the “Foods Not Bombs” benefit show on August 31 at Arcata’s city plaza.
“Los Dune Bums” are a collective of talented Chicanx musicians hailing from various cities scattered throughout Southern California and Los Angeles County. The band is comprised of members, percussionist Octavio Acosta, bassist Victor Guerrero, singer-guitarist Eduardo Gutierrez, and brothers Alejandro and Randy Lazaro who both play drums and bass – all of whom met through the local music scene cultivated by the party and music scene here at Humboldt State University (HSU).
“Los Dune Bums” is a fledgling creation, the band having only been officially assembled for a little over a year, but it’s clear when you speak with them and watch them perform, they have a fluidity that far outweighs their recent induction. With original songs and covers on their regular setlist, “Los Dune Bums” exhibit talent and show how easy it is for them to collaborate on their ideas as well as show tribute to the music that helped raise them.
Growing up in San Bernardino and Los Angeles county offers plenty of inspiration for budding creatives, and it’s clear that “Los Dune Bums” draws plenty of it from their separate, but similar upbringings.
“Growing up in LA, I think we all listened to a lot of the same stuff, especially since all of us grew up Mexican,” Gutierrez said. “Our stuff is a pretty eclectic blend of a lot of the stuff we all used to listen to growing up. Mainly Surf-Punk-Cumbia.”
“A lot of the Cumbias we listened to when our moms played them to wake us up to start cleaning on Sunday mornings” Lazaro said. “Stuff like Eddie Santiago, Los Bukis and Chico Che.”
The band isn’t solely influenced by their Latinx roots however, and fully admits to being inspired by the “rocker foo” aesthetic prevalent in Southern California music communities.
“That’s the best part of being in this group,” Gutierrez said. “We all grew up in separate but similar [cultural] scenarios, so along with Cumbias we also happened to all listen to stuff like The Casualties, and Slayer”.
A typical “Los Dune Bums” show tends to attract an ever increasingly large crowd, and it’s clear to see why. Singing in a mixture of Spanish, English and Spanglish, there is a song for nearly every listener. The band’s favorite language to perform is Spanglish because “there are so many more rhyming opportunities if you use both languages” Lazaro explained.
As the band continues to grow in local popularity, the are beginning to be more and more opportunities to use their cultural and musical prowess. “Los Dune Bums” have begun to write more original songs that incorporate their bilingual touch, as well as cater to the crowds that they progressively garner. While they don’t have a permanent set-list, they do have an anthology of songs that continually impress.
“Our favorite original songs to play vary from show to show, and we like to gauge how the crowd is feeling and how the vibe is,” Gutierrez said. “Our favorite original song to play to start a show usually is ‘Papaya’ because some of our regulars are starting to know the words and it really gets the crowd going.”
In a community that occasionally lacks the artistic support for the population of color, the presence of “Los Dune Bums” gives viewers hope for a more inclusive and diverse future in the arts in Arcata. Many venues are looking to host “Los Dune Bums” in their spaces, and more and more community members are recognizing the faces, songs and collective “vibes” the band provides.
“I really like that the band is Latinx and inviting a safe space for people of color to come and dance and enjoy themselves in a predominantly white community and town,” Laura Murillo-Hart said, a regular attendee of the shows. “I also really like that they are bringing Cumbias up here.”