Felix Contreras

Felix Contreras is co-host of Alt.Latino, NPR's web-based program about Latin Alternative music and Latino culture. It features music as well as interviews with many of the most well-known Latino musicians, actors, film makers and writers.

Previously, Contreras was a producer and reporter for NPR's Arts Desk and covered, among other stories and projects: a series reported from Mexico introducing the then-new musical movement called Latin Alternative; a series of stories on the financial challenges facing aging jazz musicians; and helped produce NPR's award winning series 50 Great Voices.

He once stood on the stage of the legendary jazz club The Village Vanguard after interviewing the club's owner and swears he felt the spirits of Coltrane and Monk walking through the room.

Contreras is a recovering television journalist who has worked for both NBC and Univision. He's also a part-time musician who plays Afro-Cuban percussion with various jazz and Latin bands.

Being a mariachi is a specialized gig. You might be able to fool people who don't know the music by wearing those tight pants and little jackets and playing with lots of vibrato. But hardcore mariachi fans will call you out in a minute if you try to fake it.

The last original member of vocal group The Platters has died. Herb Reed was 84; he died after a short illness in a hospital near his home in Massachusetts.

Audio for this feature is no longer available.

"Chicha" is a catch-all word that refers to a variety of fermented drinks popular in many Latin American countries. The drink of choice among the working class, they tend to be cheap and potent.

Just when you think you know Cuban music, along comes the Creole Choir of Cuba. This group sprang from the ashes of Grupo Vocal Desandann, a small vocal outfit created in the late 1990s to celebrate traces of Haitian culture in eastern Cuba. That history dates back to the late 18th century, when slaves from Haiti were delivered to Cuba to harvest sugarcane after successful slave revolts in Haiti. A long-lost culture was revitalized by the group through music performed largely a cappella and entirely in Haitian Creole.