“The family that plays together stays together. That is certainly true of the Peña-Govea clan in the San Francisco Mission District. …they have become a cultural force in the Bay Area. (Jesse “Chuy” Varela, Latin Beat Magazine, Jan. 2001)
Do you remember the scenes in Sam Peckinpah’s “The Wild Bunch” where, between battles in Revolution-era Mexico, the people are resting and drinking and eating and there’s always a band playing? The Peña-Govea family could have been that band! The music they play has the same post-colonial European influences performed on traditional instruments and their family history shows deep musical roots in the region. In the early 1900’s, grandfathers on both sides of the family played fiddle in the Monterrey area of northern Mexico. One of these grandfathers, Jesus Govea, later migrated to Mexico City where he and his son Juan played live music to accompany silent movies in neighborhood theaters. In 1942, Juan dropped his studies at the National Conservatory of Music in order to help support his mother and 8 younger brothers and sisters. World War II had just created a great demand for labor and the U.S. government opened its arms to millions of Mexican braceros. A young Juan Govea was among these millions - coming to California as a railroad worker, meeting his future wife, and raising a family - all the while instilling a passion in his children for music and culture, education and social justice.
60 years later in the San Francisco Bay Area, these generations of musical forebears have borne fruit in La Familia Peña-Govea. Two multi-instrumentalist/vocalist/composer daughters (Rene, age 21 and Cecilia, age 13) have been exposed by their parents (Susan Peña and Miguel Govea) to music and art from the earliest ages. The result of this exposure is an exciting, living, breathing tradition of music making that gathers influences from Mexico, Colombia, jazz and salsa.
La Familia Peña-Govea proudly announces the release of a second CD recording entitled Cohetes. The music was recorded over a period of three days in the winter of 2006. During this momentous season, Rene celebrated her 21st birthday, Cecilia became a teenager, Susan and Miguel married each other after 23 years of loving companionship, and the family marked the one year anniversary of the passing of sister/aunt Jessica Govea Thorbourne. This album commemorates these events and offers an exciting glimpse of the fireworks that occur whenever the family gathers. Cohetes features Rene and Miguel on 3-row button accordion and guitarrón, Susan on bajo sexto and vihuela, Cecilia on güira, woodblock, triangle and trumpet, and everyone on vocals. The group is joined on some tracks by legendary Nicaraguan rock drummer Donaldo Mantilla on bongo and bell, and famed Chicana artist Irene Perez on traps set. The last track of the album was recorded in 1994 and showcases the guitar playing of Rolando Morales and the singing of the late Jessica Govea Thorbourne.
Contact: Miguel Govea at (415) 378-6348
A CD release party with La Familia Peña-Govea and Los Compas is planned for Saturday, April 29, 2006 (4pm-8) at The Ramp Restaurant located at the end of Mariposa St., off Hwy. 280 in San Francisco. The Peña-Govea’s will play the first set at 4 p.m. and Los Compas will play from 5 p.m. till 8 p.m. The Peña-Goveas also have upcoming performances at Berkeley’s Cinco de Mayo Celebration (May 6), San Francisco’s Carnaval (May 27), and opening for Joel Guzman at the Cotati Accordion Festival (August 27). The family will be on staff at Mendocino’s 26th Annual Lark Camp Music and Dance Celebration in August and will also open for Los Compas at Fresno’s Arte Americas outdoor music series on September 29.