In the mid-1990s, two bands were founded in New Mexico — Nosotros in Las Cruces and Manzanares in Santa Fe — that would become giants in the Southwest Latin music scene.
Manzanares wrote music for motion picture soundtracks, and lead vocalist and guitarist David Manzanares performed onstage alongside Jeff Bridges and Colin Farrellfor the filming of the 2009 hit Crazy Heart.
Nosotros, meanwhile, worked with producer Chris Trujillo(whose percussion work appears on records by Tom Petty, The Black Crowes, and Rod Stewart), won the John Lennon Songwriting Contest for their song “Hermosa,” and scooped up numerous New Mexico Music Awards.
Just as notable as their accolades is each band’s loyal fan base. As David Manzanares puts it, Manzanares shows are more than the music; they’re a scene. People come to be part of a community.
“It’s phenomenal, but you can’t get in the door,” says his wife, Andie Manzanares. “Nosotros is the same way. It’s like these guys put people into a spell. Nobody sits down. Nobody. You can’t sit down.”
Their respective fanbases no doubt overlap, which makes the upcoming show featuring both groups at Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery all the more momentous. In their decades-long histories, the bands have never performed together. They’ll share the stage on Saturday, Nov. 23.
“These are two powerhouses,” Andie says. “When I heard they were doing the show together, I just thought, oh my God, that’s a Latin explosion! That’s gonna blow the roof off Tumbleroot.”
The concert is a celebration of the 25th anniversary of Nosotros. For their 20th anniversary, they released an anthology album and booked a show. This time, they wanted to sit back and enjoy their success.
“We kind of wanted to throw a party for ourselves, not just a show,” says guitarist Randy Sanchez, a founding Nosotros member. “I threw out an email to David and said, ‘Wouldn’t it be epic if we did a show together?’ ”
Nosotros will open with a short set, Manzanares will headline, and for a final act, members from both bands will get onstage for some jamming. The bands are keeping how that looks a surprise. With Manzanares currently an eight-piece outfit and Nosotros boasting 10 members, it’s sure to become a full-on fiesta. DJ Pancho Quiñones will spin Latin tunes before and in between sets.
“In the beginning, we were very much compared to Manzanares,” Sanchez says. “That made us think outside the box.”
Nosotros members come from rock and jazz backgrounds (Sanchez, for one, grew up on Metallica and Slayer), which gives their sound a bit of an edge — although you might also catch them playing a salsa rendition of Brooks & Dunn’s “Neon Moon,” depending on the room.
Manzanares was born out of a longstanding family tradition. Brothers David and Michael grew up playing guitar with their father and uncles during family reunions at their generations-old ranch in Abiquiú. David initially broke into country music. Meanwhile, Michael went to college and was more drawn toward rock and jazz.
Andie was Manzanares’ first official audience — and fan — when she overheard them playing old family folk songs together after having not played together in years. “I’m like, hold the phone. The country stuff is good, but there’s something here. This is from the depth of your soul.”
In 1996, the brothers began playing the Spanish songs as a duo at La Posada de Santa Fe and soon added a percussionist. People began asking if they had a CD. “We weren’t even thinking in that capacity at that point,” David says.
Rather quickly, they were booking bigger venues, adding more musicians to their roster, and bringing in a larger crowd. They became known for breathing life into traditional Spanish songs by transforming them into Nuevo Latino fusion rock with rumba and flamenco influences. They sing entirely in Spanish, which keeps them connected to their culture.
In 2000, when they were gearing up for their first major tour, they reached out to Nosotros to invite them to take over their weekly gig at El Farol, knowing that the loyal fan base would most likely appreciate a continuance of Latin music at the restaurant. Nosotros inherited a portion of their audience when that happened, and it also marked the start of a long career for Nosotros in Santa Fe, where they would relocate the following year.
“By the time [we] showed up in Santa Fe, Manzanares had already created a happening Latin music scene. It made it really easy for us to jump right in,” says Nosotros drummer Dennis Javier Jasso. “I feel very certain that if it weren’t for Manzanares, Nosotros wouldn’t have had the success we’ve had.”
In the past decade, Manzanares shifted its focus to writing music for film, which was more lucrative and also more practical than gigging. David raised his son, Max Manzanares, who is now a jazz vocalist leading his band The Max Pack, and Michael went on to become a fireman and paramedic. They began regularly performing together during the past year, when they realized how much their fans wanted it.
Perhaps the longevity of both bands is also a testament to the love their fans have for them.
“I’m playing with incredible, seasoned, amazing performers,” David says, “but we wouldn’t be able to create that scene without the audience.” ◀
▼ A Latin Explosion: Nosotros 25th anniversary celebration, featuring Manzanares and DJ Pancho Quiñones
▼ Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery, 2791 Agua Fría St.
▼ 7-11 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23
▼ Tickets are $10 at the door; 505-225-1600, tumblerootbreweryanddistillery.com.