Los Tigres Del Norte Are First Major Latino Artists to Play Folsom Prison Since Johnny Cash in 1968

Lead Photo: Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images
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It’s a wild time for beloved norteño band Los Tigres Del Norte. Earlier this week, the iconic group performed at Folsom State Prison in Folsom, California, marking the first time a major Latino musical act has played at the prison since Johnny Cash took the stage there almost 50 years ago.

It comes as no surprise that Los Tigres Del Norte is following the Man In Black’s steps. Their influence and popularity in Mexican culture cannot be overstated, as they’ve spread the gospel of norteño over the course of their decades-long career.

According to an NPR report that exclusively reported on the event, unlike the predominantly white audience Cash performed for at the prison back in 1968, today the prison population consists of mostly blacks and Latinos, reflecting the massively disproportionate incarceration rates facing our communities.

It was a powerful and emotional moment for many of the prisoners. Inmate Miguel Mena told NPR’s Felix Contreras, “We are the forgotten of society. And to have the privilege of experiencing something like this? Well, it means we haven’t been completely forgotten. It means there’s someone who remembers us, someone who gives us the strength to keep going, the strength to keep moving forward.”

NPR reports that Los Tigres submitted a request to perform at Folsom two years ago and only got the green light a few months back. Coincidentally, it was also 50 years ago that the norteño legends played their first show in the United States, at another prison in the town of Soledad, California. All this was not lost on Los Tigres, as they made it a special show for the inmates, even bringing one of them onstage to play accordion for their cover of the Johnny Cash classic “Folsom Prison Blues.”

The performance will eventually be available to the public, as Univision filmed the event for a documentary produced by industry veteran Gustavo Santaolalla. There is no release date for the doc yet, but expect it to appear on a few “must-watch” lists.

Read the full story on NPR.

Update, 4/19/2018, 4:20 p.m.An earlier version of this story stated that this was the first performance at Folsom since Johnny Cash’s 50 years ago. NPR has since issued a correction; Los Tigres del Norte are the first major Latino band to play the prison since 1968.