Juan Wauters finds his voice while creating music throughout Latin America | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Juan Wauters finds his voice while creating music throughout Latin America


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Born in Montevideo, Uruguay, Juan Wauters moved to Queens, with his father in 2002, when he was 17, and worked alongside him at a picture-frame factory to save money to bring over the rest of the family. In 2008, having picked up the guitar, he got together with some neighborhood friends to start lo-fi garage band the Beets, which became a favorite on the DIY circuit in New York and beyond. After a few years Wauters also began a solo project, whose first two albums—2014’s N.A.P. North American Poetry and 2015’s Who Me?—trade some of the Beets’ irreverent rock influences for sunny, 70s-style folk rock, with his effervescent voice flowing over laid-back fingerpicked guitar. As lovely as they are, those records leave the impression of an artist in search of his voice, and in 2017 Wauters headed to Mexico City to write his next album, only to leave to take a film role in Argentina. Once that was done, though, he set out on an adventure through Latin America, recording equipment in tow, and collaborated with local musicians he met along the way. The new LP La Onda de Juan Pablo, the first of three Wauters plans to release this year, contains music recorded in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Chile, Uruguay, and New York. The songs combine his usual friendly charisma with the spirit, musical traditions, and folk instrumentation of the places they were recorded. Wauters also sings the whole album in his native language (a first for him), but even if you don’t know a word of Spanish, his message comes through clear: make the most of life, no matter your circumstances. As the saying goes, “Home is where you are,” and Wauters embodies it throughout La Onda.   v

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