This is yet another example of musicians, artists who are bridging the divide that certain politicians have been trying to wedge int our country. Between the translated works of Zambra and the multilingual works of Lila Downs, it’s pretty obvious that cultural racism is just stupid. #ITMFA
The blurb tells us
Downs has spent her career exploring the furthest reaches of Mexican folk music. With a voice that borrows heavily from opera, Downs performs the kind of full-throated mariachi singing that would fit right in at Mexico City’s Garibaldi Square — ground zero for mariachi.
She can also coax the most tender moments from romantic boleros. But Downs is at her best when she and her band gather all of those influences to create cross-cultural expression that breaks down musical barriers. Entertaining and inspiring, she’s as much a storyteller as a singer, and her between-song banter lays bare the Mexican soul, only to have it punctuated in song.
She plays four songs and dedicates the first “Humito De Copal” to “all the journalists in the line of fire.”
Even though this song has many components of traditional Mexican folk, the size of the bad (nine pieces) and the big sound she creates transcends folk and makes it sound really catchy for all. I love it when midway through, the song takes off in a fun fast dancing section
She is really striking and her voice is amazing. She’s also playing a cool scratchy/grater item.
“La Promesa” comes from a series of song about he ritual and the offering of the Day of the Dead. She asks, “what does the homeland mean to us as Latin Americans as Mexicans and as Mexican Americans. It begins with a great electric guitar sound and cool organ accompaniment. And then she sings in quite a low voice holding notes for amazingly long (about 18 seconds). It turns into a bluesy song with a lengthy bluesy guitar solo.
The third song, “Viene La Muerte Echando Rasero” was written by a campesino, a farm worker, about rich and poor and young and old being taken by death. He says “even hit men are going to die.” She switches to a jarana, a small eight-stringed guitar-like instrument. After a slow intro the song picks up a bit with a kind of reggae feel. There’s already a big echo on the mic already but in the middle she cups her hands and gives the whole sound a much bigger echo. It has a catchy ending with everyone singing along.
She introduces the final song, “La Patria Madrina” by saying “In Mexico, you wake up and put on the news and see a lot of depressing things and you wake up and hope today will be better…and it isn’t. But despite all of this everything will be better tomorrow.” It’s a slower song with more reggae sounds and dramatic flourishes. This time there’s a kind of slide guitar running through the song.
The band consists of : Lila Downs (vocals, jarana); Paul Cohen (sax); George Saenz, Jr. (trombone); Hugo Moreno (trumpet); Marcos Lopez (seated percussion); Yayo Serka (seated drums); Rafael Gomez (electric guitar); Leo Soqui (jarana); Luis Guzman (bass).
[READ: August 28, 2016] “Reading Comprehension: Text No. 3”
I’ve enjoyed a lot of Zambra’s works and this one is no exception. I’m particularly intrigued by the “quiz” portion at the end of the piece which really takes the story in a different direction.
The structure of the story is similar to other stories I’ve read by him–I have to assume that he is being reasonably autobiographical about his youth and his life with the woman who would be his son’s mother. If not then he has really appropriated this character.
A man is writing a letter to his son. I loved the way the beginning started with the narrator telling his son to forget all of the thing that he has said or done: “mitigate my shouting, my inappropriate remarks, and my stupid jokes.” (more…)