While in Peru visiting family in 2017, I ended up making the trip to Jirón Quilca (the word Jirón is the Spanish term for ‘street; from the Spanish colonial era), a street in downtown Lima where there are several record shops and vinyl dealers. Jirón Quilca is in the old, dusty, colonial section of downtown Lima surrounded by unique businesses(or galleries) that sell magazines and other forms of analog media. I went to Jr. Quilca to look for Afro-Cuban music, Salsa(Fania, NY, PR, Colombian), and Afro-Peruvian records, as those are the musical genres I am most interested in and collect.
Walking down Jr. Quilca, I came across a few record dealers, some who just held down a street corner near the entrance to a larger shop or gallery. Others with more traditional stores, and large organized collections, but still a unique ‘old school’ vibe- like they had been in business in the same location for 50 years, and had never repainted the walls and rarely dusted. This is exactly what I was looking for!
As you can imagine, some of the record dealers in downtown Lima are straight up characters. They are vinyl hustlers, caught in a musical time-warp, relying on the records they sell daily, and extremely knowledgeable of their craft and tropical musical genres. While I did find several Afro-Cuban and Afro-Peruvian records, I started to listen to some of the old Chicha or Peruvian-Cumbia records, mainly 45’s. Chicha is a style of cumbia that started in small towns in the Amazon region of Peru like Iquitos. It has elements of Colombian Cumbia, as well as Afro-Cuban elements, but it is unique as the sounds are also inspired by traditional music from the Andes of Peru like Huayno, and of course sounds and life in the Amazon jungle. The use of the electric guitar is used melodically to sing traditional Peruvian riffs and scales in a grungy, ‘lo-fi’ manner, giving the music a unique sound and character. These are some of the Chicha 45’s purchased during this trip!
To me, these sounds are mesmerizing- they transport you to that jungle town where the heat warms your blood, your mind connects to the rhythm of the bass and percussion, and your body flows with the guitars and vocals like a jungle river. These sounds are turbulent, like a tropical storm- listen with caution. Enjoy!
One note, I have included one track from Colombia(Entre Rejas) and one from Venezuela(Petroleo) where you can hear many musical similarities, and differences like the use of the accordion and harp.