Treefort 2020 artist from Boise aims to bridge cultural gaps with cumbia music

Posted at 10:49 PM, Dec 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-27 18:17:01-05

BOISE, Idaho — There's a new sound in town, called "cumbia" -- and it's getting people out of their seats and onto a dance floor. And to one Mexican-American Treefort artist named Lobo Lara, playing the popular style of Latin music is about something greater: bridging gaps between generations and cultures.

"We have amazing food we have music, culture, just, everything that we have is bringing brought more to the forefront," said Bianca Arana, fan of Lara's.

Lobo Lara is bringing latin representation to the forefront in Idaho -- "showing that there's all different types of Latinx people here in Boise, people that really don't get shown a lot in anything really," said Arana.

Arana says his shows feel like an invitation for people from all walks of life to celebrate their expression.

"I feel like with this genre we can really unite people and be one rather than just try to hate each other," said Lara, musician and longtime Boise resident.

But it's not what you might think when you first here the term "Latin music."

"And I think when they think 'latin music' they think of mariachi music, which is not at all what Latin music is. There's so many varieties," said Arana.

Lobo Lara's genre of music is called cumbia, and it is derived from the African word "cumbe" meaning "dance."

"You can see the weight just fall," said Arana, referring to people in the crowd.

It originated during periods of slavery in the late 17th century, and helped people through tough times.

"Playing cumbia like really helps me cope with certain things," said Lara.

As a first-generation Mexican-American, he moved to Boise in 5th grade, with no ties, and with his parents who didn't speak English. This, he says, brought about some challenges.

"Things get really complicated, because you don't have a kind of backbone to rely on. So you gotta really just push yourself," said Lara.

Arana says the limited Latino representation in Idaho's artistic landscape has caused her to feel stifled.

"Kind of just binded down, and, everything you love and you feel is kind of just closed down," said Arana.

But the music Lara plays aims to bridge cultural and generational divides.

"[Because of] all the negativity that's happening, I just thought that by pushing cumbia, it could give other people like a different perspective of who we are," said Lara.

For Arana, she says it helps her celebrate what makes her unique.

"And then finally you meet people and you learn things and you feel things that you never thought you'd be able to bring to the forefront, and now you're just like, 'I'm loud, I'm here, I love who I am and this is my culture and it's amazing," said Arana.

Lara recently signed to El Dusty's record label. He hopes to make the genre appealing to young audiences by taking the old-school cumbia sound and enhancing it with popular synth sounds of today.

Lara will be on the lineup at Treefort 2020 this spring, which is planned to run March 25 through 29. If you're interested in getting tickets to see Lara there, just click here.