"Wahoo," one of a pair of new tracks from Afro-Caribbean funk band Cilantro Boombox, is an explosion of furious energy that bursts from an enticing mix of buoyant brass and booty-moving bass.
The song came out of a session with trombone player/vocalist Chris "Zumbi" Richards and bassist Felix Pacheco and it’s about "being frustrated, being almost out of words and just screaming something," Pacheco said during an episode of Austin360’s streaming show the Monday Music Mashup.
The original inspiration was relatively benign, a work dispute. But a few months later, while working on a video concept, Pacheco was "just banging my head against the wall" trying to talk to people and explain "why Black Lives Matter is a movement that we all need to support," he said. The video splices cuts of band members dancing at home with footage from recent Black Lives Matter protests in Downtown Austin.
With a diverse lineup, a call for Black and brown unity has always been woven into Cilantro Boombox’s music, but it wasn’t by design, Pacheco said.
"The music we listen to blends a lot of elements from brown and Black culture," Pacheco said, adding that the band members "gravitated to each other."
Their other new track is a beachy love song "Y-O-U" that pays homage to the Caribbean sea.
"A lot of us grew up either around the Caribbean or have families from the Caribbean area," Pacheco said. "The first smell of the beach we had, the first taste of fish was next to the Caribbean Sea."
After months in lockdown, the track offers a welcome mental getaway.
The new tracks were supposed to be part of a larger project, but the pandemic changed everything. The band will come together for their first live performance in months on Friday as part of a stream from Fischer Studios hosted by the nonprofit organization Black Fret.
The band has turned down several livestream offers because of safety concerns. They’re an eight-piece with four members "blowing into horns blasting air, everywhere," Pacheco said. But the livestream setup at Fischer Studios offered the band a large room where "the horns can be far from the rest of the band and separated from each other as well," he said.
The group is excited about the opportunity to come together again.
"I’ve got jitters, though," Pacheco said with a laugh.
The Black Fret performance kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday on the Facebook and YouTube pages for Studios at Fischer and on Black Fret’s Facebook page. The set will also include a performance from Dossey.