Live Review: Y La Bamba, Kendra Morris, Philadelphia, PA, May 17, 2023

In silhouettes of blue, Y La Bamba entranced a sold-out Johnny Brenda’s crowd. Playing behind the brilliant new Lucha, the musical project of Luz Elena Mendoza Ramos wove a haunting and dance-inducing tapestry of harmony. With five band members playing alongside Ramos to create a transcendent sonic experience, the spring night transported the audience to emotional highs and lows and to lands far beyond Philadelphia.

Now based in Mexico City, Ramos (who grew up in Oregon) brings the sounds of her heritage to the stage in a way rarely encountered. Though the tightly packed Johnny Brenda’s stage provided very little room for band movement, the crowd was joyously soaking in rhythms both familiar and otherworldly. On a night dedicated to their first guitar teacher, who had died recently and was represented by a candle on stage, Y La Bamba delivered a feast of passion for the ears and the soul.

Kendra Morris opened with a scorching set of soul and rock. Bringing a vocal energy matched by her expert band, she is an artist to watch out for.

—words and photos by Chris Sikich

Kendra Morris
Luz Elena Mendoza Ramos