Due to the success of last year’s The Roots Of Chicha: Psychedelic Cumbias From Peru, Barbes Records is now releasing full album by the some of the groups included on that compilation. Juaneco Y Su Combo is not a household name, but it should be. Masters Of Chicha Vol.1 is a collection of the group’s work from when Juan Wong Jr. took over his father’s band in the late 60’s to the late 70’s. Juaneco Y Su Combo combined Cumbia, Peruvian Folk Music and Rock to create the sound that was later dubbed Chicha music.
The group was also known for their look as well as their sound. They dressed in traditional Shipibo costumes, a native tribe from their home in Pucallpa. Much like a country band dressing like cowboys, even if none of them are actually cowboys, Juaneco Y Su Combo dressed like the Shipibo as a way to show their pride in where they are from. The Shipibo influenced even the song subjects, as the group often wrote songs about life in the jungle.
There are two reasons why this band sounds so unique. First, when Juaneco took over his father’s band, he switched from playing the accordion to the Farfisa Organ, which gave the band that 60’s garage rock sound. The second was guitar player Noé Fachin, who was much older than the rest of the group. He came into the group with Brazilian and African music influences and soon became the main songwriter. Upon listening to the Juaneco Y Su Combo: Masters of Chicha disc, one knowledgeable enough will notice the Congolese guitar influence on Noé Fachin's guitar playing. They often covered Brazilian standards as well as the hit Cumbia and Rock songs of the day.