While growing up in Kansas City during the 1990s, Panama natives bassist-vocalist Diego Chi and his brother, vocalist-guitarist Enrique Chi, would often hear his father’s favorite recording artists Los Lobos and Ruben Blades throughout their home.
Both artists inspired the Chi Brothers to form Making Movies, a tip of the hat to the 1980 Dire Straits album of the same name, which also has been an influence.
Los Lobos saxophonist Steve Berlin has been the band’s producer since he was behind the board for 2013’s, “A La DeRiva.” Berlin is a logical choice considering that Making Movies is an eclectic Latin rock band, much like Los Lobos.
“Steve was perfect due to the obvious,” Diego Chi said by phone from Los Angeles. “When we opened for Los Lobos (in 2013), Steve came up to us and said, ‘The next time you guys make an album, call me first when it comes to picking a producer.’ Little did Steve know that no on else wanted to produce us.
“Steve is the perfect mentor. He’s been a huge part of our development since he’s been working with us for years.”
Berlin produced 2017’s “I am Another You” and the band’s latest album, “Ameri’kana,” which was released earlier this month. Blades collaborated with Making Movies, which also includes another pair of brothers, percussionist-keyboardist Juan-Carlos Chaurand and drummer Andres Chaurand.
“Ameri’kana” includes “Delilah,” an unearthed song about immigration written during a weeklong writing session between Blades and his old friend, Lou Reed, who died in 2013. The late rock legend produced Blades’ 1986 album, “Mistrial.” The rousing “Delilah” was slated to make “Mistrial” but was cut and wasn’t recorded until 2018.
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“Ruben approached us, which was a thrill since we hold him in such a high regard ...,” Chi said. “He heard our music on the internet and he really likes us. He proceeded to mention us on the red carpet of the Latin Grammys, and then put it out on social media that he would like to collaborate with us. When we heard that, we had a round of shots since it’s a huge deal for not just us, but our family. My dad grew up in Panama and he loves Ruben.”
Blades enjoyed working with Making Movies so much, he co-wrote a couple of songs with the band, including the protest rocker, “No Te Calles,” which is the first single from the album.
“It’s surreal,” Chi said. “I can’t believe the things we have been accomplishing. I can’t describe how excited I am to hear the voice from my childhood coming out of the speakers of the music we made. This has all been super-bizarre. We’re pumped up.”
“Ameri’kana” is timely. Making Movies’ latest project represents the voice of immigrants.
“It’s a shame how this administration is treating people here who have come from other countries,” Chi said. “This country has a long history with immigrants. We’re immigrants. I came to America when I was 2 years old and my brother was 5 years old. Our background has shaped our music.”
No band sounds quite like Making Movies, which combines psychedelic rock with Afro-Latino rhythms.
“It comes straight from the heart,” Chi said. “We have no grand plan. We just want to make music — and not only has that happened, but we’ve had the chance to work with some really cool people that not only we respect but they respect what we do.”
He recently relocated to Los Angeles. The rest of the band is in Kansas City.
“L.A. is definitely having a positive impact on me,” Chi said. “It’s inspiring here. I live in Koreatown. But the reality is that I’ll record wherever my bandmates are and I’ll tour wherever we’re booked. We’ll be out playing quite a bit since we want to make sure people hear ‘Ameri’kana.’”
WHAT: Making Movies
WHERE: CSPS Hall, 1103 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids
WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday (6/20)
TICKETS: $16 advance, $19 door; CSPS Box Office, (319) 364-1580 or Legionarts.org
BAND’S WEBSITE: Mkngmvs.com