A few days after I first stepped foot in South America, I went to a music festival. I was expecting to hear something I’d never heard before – music played on the charango, or the quatro or some other South American instrument.

If my memory is correct, the festival was in a park somewhere in the Bella Vista neighborhood of Santiago, Chile. My wife and I got there just before the first act went on stage. We were intrigued that they were clearly a rock band of some sort – guitar, drums, electric bass – and were curious what Chilean rock was like.

The band’s first song: Sweet Child o’ Mine by Guns n’ Roses.

This is something we experienced during all of our trips to Chile and Argentina. Music from the northern hemisphere is popular here. People especially love Metallica, ¬†Creedence Clearwater Revival, U2, Nirvana, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, and other pop culture icons. If you’re there for a short time, you might think that’s all people listen to, but there is plenty of great music in South America.

Here’s some of the music I discovered thanks to my friends in Buenos Aires. My list is pretty much completely focused on Argentina, because that’s where I lived the most. If you got other favorites from South America, please feel free to mention them in comments.

Pez

This was absolutely my favorite band I heard while in Argentina. I even got to go to a show that they opened. Probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but at least give them a listen. I think the tattoos on his forearms of the Grateful Dead skull and the Misfits skull basically sum up the sound, at least on the Orfebres album.

Atahualpa Yupanqui

I looked that name up twice to make sure I had it right. Friends sometimes described him as Argentina’s Bob Dylan. He’s got great lyrics, a haunting voice and beautiful guitar picking.

Los Fabulosos Cadillacs

Good stuff. I would have loved to have seen these guys live. You’ll recognize the bass player as the lead guitarist and singer from Pez. This band achieved some international fame for a while, and won a Grammy in 2000.

 

No Te Va Gustar

Their name literally means You Won’t Like It, an ironic name for a band whose songs tend to get stuck in your head easily. This band is from Uruguay, and has been together since they were teens in 1994.


Ok, so those are just a few of the many South American (ok, really Rioplatense) musicians that are worth hearing. I haven’t even mentioned the late great Facundo Cabral, who deserves a post of his own, or Charly Garcia. Any feedback or suggestions for future music posts would be greatly appreciated.

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