Melinda Torres was just one year past her quinceañera when she went to The Whisky A Go Go for the first time. One of her friends decided it was time she be introduced to the Spanish Rock scene in L.A. Torres immediately fell in love and decided that this was what she was going to do for the rest of her life.
“I don’t know why I said that, but I just did,” says Torres, founder and CEO of Arte Y Musica Entertaiment, a promotion and booking company. “You know how it strikes you like ‘this is what I want to do?’ 18, 19 years later and I’m still doing it.”
Torres founded A&M in 2002 following a conversation with her partner Arturo Hernandez. He was a member of now-defunct local outfit Viva Malpache! then and was frustrated with the way other promoters booked his band. They were either always first or last at showcases and never given a true opportunity to headline their own show with other similar, like-minded artists.
Torres took matters into her own hands by combining her two loves, music and photography, and created Arte Y Musica. Within weeks, A&M began booking and selling shows out in Hollywood at places like B.B. Kings, The Roxy, The Whisky, The Key Club, The Knitting Factory and others before venturing out into other neighborhoods where the focus was on the local artistry than on making money.
Torres and A&M left the glitz of Hollywood for the gritty nightlife of Pico-Union where she hosted groups such as a fledgling, pre-Latin Grammy nomination La Santa Cecilia, San Francisco’s Locura, Sonsoles and others at Sabor Lounge for two years. From there, it was only a short amount of time until she was booking acts to play at Safari Sam’s, Bordello, Vertigo’s, the Rhythm Lounge, the Conga Room, the House of Blues and beyond.
The list of artists that A&M has worked with is a lengthy one: El Gran Silencio, Victimas del Dr. Cerebro, Tex-Tex, Celso Piña, Pastilla, Very Be Careful, El Sonido Callejero, Los Hollywood, La Santa Maria and many more. The company’s focus has always been on working with and promoting Spanish-speaking artists.
“I’ve sticking to Spanish [artists] since 2002,” says Torres. “Latin culture to me is important.”
A&M’s next move is to take L.A. artists out on the road beyond southern California. They’ve already started with this summer’s Latin Invasion Tour, which kicked off in California and will continue across the U.S., Mexico and Europe.