Parranderos Latin Combo from Iowa to the World

From Quito, Ecuador Fernando Aveiga found his way to Mason City, Iowa. He initially came to attend North Iowa area community college and played soccer for them. 


 “After the first year I felt lonely, it was really cold up there and then the big university which is Iowa State University [was] always drawing me [in],” Aveiga said. 

Aveiga’s second year of college he transferred to Iowa State University because of the academic opportunities given in that institution. In 2005 he got his bachelors in economics and in 2007 he got his masters. Right after college he started commuting to Des Moines for work. He lived in Ames until January 2011.

“So I’m kind of new to Des Moines,” Aveiga said.

Fernando has passion for music and it arose from his family members. He attended a private school in the city when he lived in Ecuador and would travel to the small village where his grandparents and uncles lived. While visiting he would see his uncles come back from labor and would consume rum and sit in their hammock and start playing the guitar. He then found interest and his family started teaching him. Aveiga would then go back to the city and play his guitar to the Beetles and Metallica. 

“Then I realized I wanted to reach out to America but now that I’m here I want to reach out to South America,” Aveiga said.

Aveiga then met Ryan Mullin and his name is important to him because it means “its kind of like Che Guevara and Fidel Castro”. It was destined for them to meet because Mullin and Aveiga are both leaders, he said. Mullins plays football and Aveiga plays soccer and in music if you’re an athlete it changes the game in the music industry. Aveiga said that most musicians in the end become the bandleader.

“He’s more Latino than me. He’s Güero Latino a 100 percent,” Aveiga said.

Both Aveiga and Mullin decided to start a new project together and thus in the end they founded Parranderos Latin Combo. As the journey for a new band name began Aveiga would send Mullin ten name ideas and he would e-mail him the reasons why the names wouldn’t work. So then he texted him with ‘PLC’ and he was asked what it stood for. Aveiga then said ‘Parranderos Latin Combo’ so it was going, it went and bam it stuck. 

“Mullin and I make it happen, we do things initially in the honor of music,” Aveiga said. “We like music so much that with intention we make it look like its perfect but its not.”

Parranderos Latin Combo has 12 group members. The group consists of percussionist, vocals, guitar, quarto, piano, woodwinds, bass, trumpet and trombone. PLC has group members from South America, The Caribbean and the Midwest. The group was funded in part by the Iowa Arts Council and the National Endowment for The Arts. 

Parranderos began playing every Thursdays at dinner for two years at Mi Patria an Ecuadorian Restaurant. During this time the jazz band was expanding with more brass and they said ‘we’re going to kill the jazz band’ and they were going to become a salsa band that can play more, such as more metal tunes. If they’re at a wedding they’ll play waltz and if its time to party they’re going to bail in your face. 

“It just depends were we are, we’ll act appropriately,” Aveiga said.

They group has also played covers for five years, which includes salsa from New York, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Cuba and Venezuela. New York was the biggest influence for PLC in which they played a lot of salsa from the 70s and 80s. Meanwhile they also built a stock of many songs, songs from different genres, which include cumbia, a little bit of vallenato and merengue. They also do other Afro-Peruvian tunes.

“But in 2016 that’s going to change we’re going to push vallenato big time,” Aveiga said. 

Parranderos Latin Combo has had the same lineup since 2012.

The band members of PLC get together every Wednesday at Star Bar in Des Moines. They are open to any musician who knows how to play salsa music. So those who do know how show up to meet with them at Star Bar and if they are committed to play, PLC will let them play and if they sound good they get to play with the group and if you sound kind of good they’ll work with you. 

“You can love music but you have to be committed to get from work and practice your instrument and songs,” Aveiga said. “It’s a commitment not everyone is willing to make and the ones who are put the responsibility on themselves to always keep updated and to be fluent with the songs we play and it’s unique.”

Parranderos was funded with 10 thousand dollars by IAC and NEA for their first album, which they recorded in Puerto Rico. The album cost itself 50 thousand dollars; the remaining 40 thousand was funded through the band and private donations. The band didn’t pay itself for a while, Aveiga said.  He said that they [PLC] was honored to be awarded the grant because for them it meant that IAC and NEA reviewed their project and believed their music was worth the public’s funding. 

“The biggest achievement we have had as a band and this put us on the map for the radio world,” Aveiga said. 

Parranderos Latin Combo has been invited by Iowa Public Radio to play live music on June 4th at 7pm to 9pm and it’s a free event. The location is in studio one at The Basement in the Des Moines Social Club. PLC will be playing with a new pianist and are rehearsing Tuesday and Wednesday for the show. Aveiga is going to try and change his songs and sing with a purpose. He wants people to hear him in a different way. 

“It’s going to be wonderful because they’re going to ask us questions about the band and we’re going to be ready to answer and its all going to be in English,” Aveiga said. “We’re going to be interacting with the media.” 

Parranderos also plays at private events, weddings, company events and quinceañeras. Their next CD comes out by mid 2016. Their first album can be found on ITunes, Spotify and in YouTube with English and Spanish lyrics. For the actual CD can be ordered through CD Baby. 

Click on the picture below to connect to their live broadcast from Iowa Public Radio

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