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Home / Articles / Music / Music Features /  Songs for Obama
felipe ruibal
Felipe Ruibal comes home from the DNC.

Songs for Obama

The sound of democracy gets a salsa lesson

September 2, 2008, 12:00 am
For Santa Fe musician Felipe Ruibal and his salsa and cumbia band, Quemozo, the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver was about more than a bunch of talking heads. It was a place to play a high profile gig. The former lead singer of the band Nosotros was selected—along with several other musicians from across the US—to play on the opening night of the convention at a party in honor of the DNC Hispanic Caucus.

SFR: How in the hell did you land a gig at the DNC?
FR: I was playing solo at this private party in Santa Fe and was explaining this original song, which is in Spanish, called “El Caido” (The Fallen One). So I’m telling the audience about the song and said nonchalantly that this is my Obama song. A person there was with AT&T, one of the big sponsors for the event in Denver. I gave him a press packet and a week later someone from the Spanish television network Univision called me up. This was in May. It was finalized three weeks ago.

Did you meet anyone interesting at the convention?
It was kind of a who’s who in the Democratic-Hispano scene in Washington. We did meet a lot of people, but we were quite busy on stage. We headlined so they had us resting in the green room. It was an honor to play for the event.

This isn’t the first time you’ve performed for a political audience.
I played for [Gov.] Bill Richardson’s first inauguration party with Nosotros. It’s a funny story, actually. I was working for this nonprofit, the Acequia Association, at the time and I saw him the day after the inauguration at a function. There was a line of people waiting to meet him and he walked up directly to me and said, ‘You’re that guy from that band from last night…Los Chingones.’ We become fast friends. I’ve played a few events for him.

Are you disappointed that Richardson didn’t get the VP nomination?
A lot of us in New Mexico were pulling for him.

People tend to get wrapped up in the moment at these kinds of conventions; it’s very theatrical, kind of like a show or concert. Aside from making the Democratic nomination official, do you think anything of substance came out of this convention or is it just entertainment?
It’s entertainment; I can’t say that it’s not. It’s a big song and dance over there. We were star struck ourselves by the different artists that were playing in a place right next to us. It’s easy to get caught up in stuff like that, but I think there are a lot of people who are very sincere, just as much as people are there to see a show.

There hasn’t been a lot of talk in support of the arts during this campaign. As a working musician, are there issues in the music community that you would like to see addressed?
I see a lot of union support for musicians in bigger cities. We do have a musicians union here in New Mexico, but I would like to see it much more developed. We need a lot more support out here. As a New Mexican and as a musician, I would like to see more support on that end for us.

Would you consider this the biggest gig of your career thus far?
I’ve been able to play big shows before. One thing that was great is that we were a headlining act for this event. There were several bands in consideration from all over the country and we were just really happy to be representing New Mexico.

Quemozo
8:30-11:30 pm
Saturday, Sept. 6
$5

Eldorado Hotel

 

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