Albums that changed the world for Julio Villalobos de Cabildo

Featured next Saturday (May 21) for the Local Spins Fest in downtown Grand Rapids, the frontman of the Latin alternative rock band reveals his picks for the most influential albums and artists today.

Raised On South American Folk and Protest Music: Julio Villalobos. (Photo/Derek Ketchum)

EDITOR’S NOTE: All musicians can trace their inspiration to key recordings that captivated them and influenced their careers. Writer Ross Boissoneau presents world-changing recordings today for Grand Rapids musician Julio Villalobos of Cabildo, who will play Local Spins Fest on May 21. Scroll down for a Spotify playlist of his picks plus a few tracks from McCray’s brand new studio album.

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Fans of the combination of Latin music and rock have more than Santana to snag their cajons and timpani.

Grand Rapids band Cabildo fuses the rock side of the musical equation with sounds and shapes from across North and South America.

Bandleader and guitarist Julio Villalobos is from Chile, while fellow guitarist and compatriot Julio (Viveros) is from Mexico. Other band members call various places across North America home.

“I grew up with Latin American folk music,” says Villalobos. He started playing guitar around the age of 13, before moving to the United States. Since then, he has been part of various musical scenes and groups.

His current band blends rock, folk, punk, ska and Latin American music like cumbia into a heady musical stew. Much of the band’s music is danceable and often centers around a lyrical protest ethos. These two elements often work in harmony with each other.

“I grew up under a dictatorship,” Villalobos says of the tenor of the music. Its influences date back to those days as evidenced here.

Cabildo is one of six artists performing as part of Local Spins’ 10th anniversary celebration outdoors at Studio Park in downtown Grand Rapids on Saturday, May 21. Local rides party starts with DJ Super Dre at 3 p.m., followed by Cabildo at 16, Hannah Rose Graves 17 hours, Full cord at 18 hours, Public access at 7 p.m. and Accidentals at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are only $20 and are available online here.

1. Victor Jara, “Pongo en Tus Manos Abiertas” (1969) – There was this guy who started the folk (tradition) singer-songwriter in Chile, Victor Jara. He was a symbol of democracy. He translated American folk songs into Spanish. “El Martillo” was (derived) from “If I Had a Hammer”. (Note: Jara was tortured and killed by the Chilean army after August Pinochet came to power in 1973.)
Listen: “Duerme, Duerme Negrito”

2. Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, “Vasos Vacios” (1993) – They were the band of my college generation. They started in the 80s and mixed ska and punk in Spanish. In the 90s, their music was more focused on Latin beats and rock beats. There were a lot of those influences in what we’re doing now as a band, mixing ska with a Latin influence. The other guitarist, Julio (Viveros) and I listened to rock and the music our parents listened to: cumbia, boleros. What we do at Cabildo is a rock version of pop and Latin to subvert folk.
Listen: “Vasos Vacios”

3. Metallica, “And Justice For All” (1986) – Cabildo’s other guitarist (Julio Viveros) was listening to Metallica. His father is a luthier, he made guitars and harps. The rockiest part (in Cabildo) is Julio’s guitar. He is informed by the metal.
Listen: “And justice for all”

Currently loving: Rosalia, “Bulerias” (2022) “There’s this woman from Spain called Rosalia. His music is a mixture of trap with electronic music and flamenco. He is one of the most popular people in Latin America. It’s by choice. Also, my 10 year old son is learning to play the guitar, so I listen to a lot of Nirvana.
Listen: Rosalia, “Bulerías”

ALBUMS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD: Julio Villalobos’ playlist on Spotify

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