Santa Lucia LFR has been spicing up Vancouver's music scene since 2001 with its huge horns and bass, funky breaks, polyrhythmic beats and bilingual lyrical content. Their lineup has branched organically from the original four-piece crew, with a few new people (and their respective instruments) incorporated into the group over the years. Today, their seven-piece musical roster includes German Cantillo on vocals and guitar, Byron Russell on alto sax, Ryan Conroy on bass, Brad Muirhead on trombone, Chiko Misomali manning the drums, Colin Maskell on tenor sax, Juan Carlos "Chocolate" Gonzales on Latin percussion and Miguelito Valdes on trumpet.
"Normally, it's about seven or eight people, it depends. We normally play festivals, and I can bring the whole band, but on smaller gigs, we go down to six, which is still a large number, when it comes to a band."
"Usually, the drummers are the ones that come and go," Cantillo reflected, "But Chiko has been with us for quite a bit, too, so again, it's one of those things that you actually never know who you're going to meet and what they're going to be like with the band!"
"We have fun doing it and we all get along," he laughed, "That helps a lot, I tell you!"
With so many cooks in the kitchen, it's really no surprise that there is a range of flavour thrown into the musical mixture.
"It does play a part in it," he paused, "I have two Cuban guys, and myself - I'm Nicaraguan - so you have the Latin American side of the band. And then Byron, Brad, the brass guys are all Canadian guys, and Chico comes from Malawi via Scotland, actually."
Gee, their bio was pretty on-point when it described them as "a multi-ethnic gathering of friends." While their backgrounds may be diverse, they share a love for Latin funk.
"The guys like the Latin stuff, because some of the horn players, they play in other Latin bands; not on a regular basis, but they've been exposed to that. So when I presented the concept, saying, 'Okay, this is a non-traditional Latin band; traditional in a way that it's large,'" he laughed, "'but the music itself is not going to be!'"
Rather, Cantillo wanted to mix funk and rock fusion with the Latin influences, plus some Nuyorican Boogaloo, West Coast funk and Cuban grooves, of course.
"It kind of brings a unique blend," he said.
See, Cantillo had been playing on Vancouver's music scene, but most of the groups he was playing with were just doing Latin covers, and he wanted to be writing and performing original material.