The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music’s Tiny Desk (Home) Concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and around the world. It’s the same spirit — stripped down decor, an intimate setting — just a different space.
To appreciate the magic of a performance by Thee Sinseers, you have to understand the mix of Chicano and African-American communities in post-WWII Southern California. Living in the same neighborhoods, these communities have created a virtual symphony of R&B, mariachi and boleros. And what you hear in this California band’s Tiny Desk (home) gig, as they perform among the plants of a flower shop, builds on a musical legacy that has come to be known as “oldies but goodies” in the Chicano community.
From the start, bandleader and vocalist Joey Quiñones and his crew dig deep with their original songs that pay homage to the oldies in a way that evokes my own memories of lowrider car shows and lazy Sunday afternoons at Roeding Park. in Fresno, California. “What’s His Name” features a delicate falsetto that was popular in 1950s R&B. The short horn parts and doo-wop background vocals fall into a call-and-response context for the lyrics over a broken heart.
There’s a very real connection in this set between the passionate vocals of the best R&B ballads and the mariachi ranchera, both of which borrow from the emotional devastation of Italian opera. All of this is on display in “Hold On”, which makes us wonder how we have the power to continue living. Particular attention should be paid to vocalist Adriana Flores’ delicate plea on “Lovin You,” which turns into a breathy ballad fueled by a tight, screaming chorus from the entire band.
LIST OF SETTINGS
- “What is his name”
- “I like you”
- “There must be something”
- Joey Quiñones: vocals, keyboards
- Adriana Flores: vocals
- Christophe Manjarrez: bass
- Francisco Flores: guitar
- Bryan Ponce: guitar, vocals
- Luis Carpio: drums, vocals
- Eric Johnson: saxophone
- Joseluis Jiménez: trombone
- Steve Surman: saxophone
- Director/Editor: Bryan Ponce
- Camera: Anthony Ramirez, Rosario Briseño
- Sound engineer: Brian Gazo
- Mixed by: Joey Quiñones
- Location: Floreria Primavera
SMALL OFFICE TEAM
- Producer: Ana Sayre
- Video producer: Kara Frame
- Audio mastering: Josh Rogosin
- Small production team: Bob Boilen, Bobby Carter, Joshua Bryant, Michael Zamora, Maia Stern, Ashley Pointer
- Vice President, NPR Music: Keith Jenkins
- Senior Vice President, Programming: Anya Grundmann