Mucho Music's mix of Latin alternative tunes proved a big hit at the… (Sandra Jara )
Ricky Garay was in his car, like many Angelenos are when inspiration strikes, when he first got the idea for Mucho Music — the weekly Latin dance party now moving to the Echoplex in Echo Park after three years at downtown's La Cita club. "My friends and I would drive around passing out fliers and listen to Latin pop and we would always say, 'Man, wouldn't it be great if there was somewhere we could go and listen to Latin pop all night?' There were places that played Brit pop and hip-hop but no Latin pop."
Garay, who was the day manager at La Cita, pitched the idea to owner Carl Lofgren, who had purchased the longtime Ranchero bar with his three partners in 2006. Lofgren jumped at the chance to maintain the bar's Latino community and trusted Garay to do what he did best: promote.
"My partners and I aren't Mexican," Lofgren says, "we're a bunch of white guys from the Midwest. We didn't want to come in and just do what a lot of other people have done and destroy everything that was already here. There's obviously a huge Latin market in Los Angeles and if we can just tap into the younger side we could have something."
Garay did just that, booking local favorites Very Be Careful and other hot acts such as La Santa Cecilia, Viernes 13 and Gustavo Galindo. Soon, Mucho Music was a bustling success attracting that coveted young Latino community: A rainbow-bodied, multi-generational crowd sporting faux eyeglasses and pompadours, kids whose Los Angeles story is as diverse as their musical tastes. Playing rock en español, goth, indie rock and heavy metal, Mucho Music's DJs kept the floor a bouncing mob of new and old sounds. The Wednesday night party was such a success that even non-Latino groups jumped in on the act: Punk favorite the Bronx created its own side project, Mariachi El Bronx, so it could play there.
When Mucho Music started to book higher-profile acts, Garay ran up against some limitations. "I wanted to work with some of these groups but I knew that in some cases it was not practical, financially or technically, and I was having to say no to people."
That's when Liz Garo, the Echoplex's senior talent buyer, stepped in. "I had heard of Mucho and had talked to Ricky a few times and really liked his energy and enthusiasm. It was filling a niche that we were not doing at the Echo and the Echoplex." Mucho's first official night at the Echoplex will be June 25 and then it moves to the third Saturday of every month.
Garay hopes the new Mucho, which closed out La Cita with a Cinco de Mayo bash earlier this week, can act as a home base for large Latin pop bands while on tour. "We want to focus on bringing the best acts to town and combine what was happening each week at La Cita to make one giant blowout celebration every month — a super party!" he says. Fans can get a taste at the Silver Lake Jubilee on May 21-22, which sports a few Mucho-booked acts such as Ceci Bastida, Ximena Sariñana and Very Be Careful.
But it's more than the party that drives Garay; it's the community that Mucho creates. "We're doing something special," he says, "making a place for all these kids who didn't have a place to go before. That, to me, is the most important thing."