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Quitapenas is the Inland Empire's newest, sincerest, crate-diggingest Afro-Latin band

The Afro-Latin band Quintapenas hails from California's Inland Empire.
The Afro-Latin band Quintapenas hails from California's Inland Empire.
Carlos Quinteros Jr.

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Emerging out of San Bernardino and Riverside is Quitapenas, a band playing a kind of Afro-Latin music that spans continents with their sound — there's Mexico, Angola, Colombia, Guatemala — but they do it with the eyes and ears of musicologists, or DJs. Finding and blending sounds from bands and artists that were breakthroughs in their genres — people like Abelardo CarbonóJuaneco y su Combo or Papi Brandao.

Behind congas and percussion is Eduardo Valencia, while Daniel Gomez sings and plays guitar. The two were neighbors growing up in San Bernardino.

"I remember, when I first started playing music, just kind of playing in a little rock band, our parents always telling us to make songs in Spanish and play Spanish music," said Gomez. "It was just kind of a really farfetched idea at the time."

It's a time-honored tradition: teenage you spurning the music your parents love, only to embrace it less than a decade later.

"Quitapenas is all the dimensions of the music that we like," said Valencia. "Our parents relate to it, young people our age relate to it, older folks than our parents relate to it, just because I feel like it's reaching to something."

"Quitapenas" literally means "to remove worries" in Spanish. And, indeed, there are songs about relaxing on a Vietnamese beach, lazily waking up with a hangover in Colombia. But the band hits close on social commentary, too: "Valle Moreno" comes off the band's self-titled debut record. It's an ode to their hometown:


You can see Quitapenas live this week as they kick off a tour up the West Coast. They're performing a record release party on Friday, Sept. 25 at Mission Tobacco Lounge in Riverside, and at Los Globos in Echo Park on Sept. 26.