An engrossing deep dive into the sights, sounds, and sensibilities of the Latina/o Rockabilly scene in Los Angeles, its ties to working-class communities, and its dissemination through the post-NAFTA global landscape.
Vocals tinged with pain and desperation. The deep thuds of an upright bass. Women with short bangs and men in cuffed jeans. These elements and others are the unmistakable signatures of rockabilly, a musical genre normally associated with white male musicians of the 1950s. But in Los Angeles today, rockabilly's primary producers and consumers are Latinos and Latinas. Why are these "Razabillies" partaking in a visibly "un-Latino" subculture that's thought of as a white person's fixation everywhere else?
As a Los Angeles Rockabilly insider, Nicholas F. Centino is the right person to answer this question. Pairing a decade of participant observation with interviews and historical research, Centino explores the reasons behind a Rockabilly renaissance in 1990s Los Angeles and demonstrates how, as a form of working-class leisure, this scene provides Razabillies with spaces of respite and conviviality within the alienating landscape of the urban metropolis. A nuanced account revealing how and why Los Angeles Latinas/os have turned to and transformed the music and aesthetic style of 1950s rockabilly, Razabilly offers rare insight into this musical subculture, its place in rock and roll history, and its passionate practitioners.