REVIEW: Making Movies’ New Album, “Ameri’kana,” Looks at What Could Be.


The Kansas City, Mo based band, Making Movies, may have mid-west roots, but they  stretch straight south to Mexico, and then continue all the way to Panama.  The group consists of 2 sets of brothers who have joined forces to create some of the most eclectic and socially conscious music around.  Panamanian brothers Enrique Chi, (vocals and guitar), and Diego Chi, (bass), teamed up with Mexican American brothers Juan-Carlos Chaurand, (percussion & keys) and Andres Chaurand (drums) back in 2009 and have since released 3 LP’s that include the most recent album, Ameri’kana.

In their own words, Ameri’kana is an “oldies” station in the future, where the injustices sung about are long gone. The album is a direct response to the divisions, corruption, and injustices targeting the Latino community today, and we gathered like-minded artists to join us in sharing the hope that one day those ills will be a memory.”  And gather up some friends they did.

The entire album is a collaboration with a huge supporter of  Making Movies, and another Panamanian, multi talented singer, actor, and activist, Ruben Blades.  The amazing Steve Berlin of Los Lobos  produced the album with co producer, Ben Yonas , and is the third album Steve and Making Movies have worked on. Mix in another member of Los Lobos in David Hidalgo,  Flor de Toloache, Asdru Sierrra of Ozomatli, Frankie Negrón, and Las Cafeteras and what you end up with is a fantastic mix of music that includes not only their Latin roots but Afro-Carribean rhythms, and plenty of straight ahead Rock and Roll.

The album kicks off with “Como Perdonar” featuring Ruben Blades and Latin Grammy award winner Flor de Toloache.  It features an opening monolog by Ruben in spanish that says ““The earth doesn’t know when a country begins or ends. That’s why this song is dedicated to all of you and to all those who suffer and have suffered because of the borders we’ve created on this planet.    It sets the mood that they are trying to create with each song and is a call to the oppressed that they are not forgotten and will be spoken for through this album.

“Delilah” was co written in the late 1980’s between Blades and the late great Lou Reed and is seeing the light of day, for the first time, on this album.  Ruben trades lead vocals with Enrique and is an immigrant story of deportation done with the flair and sarcastic wit you’d expect from Blades and Reed.  In an upcoming episode of The Art Inside the Craft, featured here on Americana Highways, Enrique Chi explains the deeper meaning of not only “Delilah” but the overall vision of the album.

Multi Grammy and Billboard nominated Frankie Negron lends his vocals to a personal favorite of mine, the Ruben Blades written “Patria”.  I’ve loved the song for years as it explores the true meaning of “our country” or “our homeland” and how those sentiments are found in our neighborhoods and in each other more than the land in which you were born.  “The Wake of the Fall” and  “Tired of Giving In” are both powerfully expressing the feelings and struggle of the immigrant, each with unique musical arrangements that grab you from the opening lines.

Making Movies has, and continues to fight for the oppressed and downtrodden by carrying on a tradition that goes back to the early parts or the 20th century with Woody Guthrie, Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison in 1968, or Richie Havens the next year on the stage at Woodstock. While the problems they sing about continue to pervade our society, Making Movies is one band, with a bunch of friends, that is taking a stand through their music and activism.  They are being the change they want to see in the world by asking us all to help make the world better for everyone.

It’s good to see a band making music that really means something and has a deeper goal than a hit single.  Grab the new album and follow along with their various social media pages to stay up to date.  They continually tour the world and will be coming through your town sometime in the near future.


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