This year’s Fall Fiesta brings two iconic Hispanic bands to the Ocotillo Performing Arts Center in Artesia
By Christina Stock
For two days, the public is invited to the Fall Fiesta at the Ocotillo Performing Arts Center (OPAC), 310 W. Main St., in Artesia.
On Sept. 21 at 7 p.m., the joyride begins with the band Jarabe Mexicana. The band performs out of a versatile songbook of Mexican folk as well as rock and roll, Tex-Mex, Latin rock, reggae and cumbia.
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Performing on stringed folk instruments accompanied by lively percussion, Jarabe’s dramatic, harmonized vocals in Spanish and English have gained them the admiration from audiences across the country.
The quintet, with its eclectic border spirit, stands out with performances by lead vocalist Gustavo Alcoser, José Martín Márquez on requinto (a small guitar), Kevin Lomes on vihuela (a guitar-shaped string instrument with five or six doubled strings), Chris Behrens with his guitarrón (a very large, deep-bodied Mexican six-string acoustic bass), and musical director Danny Brito on percussion.
Cultural anthropologist, author and fan of the band, Alejandro Lugo, raves that Jarabe’s musicians “are truly excellent and bring new blood to the musical traditions they perform … their version of La Malagueña is simply the best I’ve heard in decades, if not ever.”
For Jarabe, every performance is an opportunity to create a deeper and more inclusive sense of family and community. As advocates for the arts and education and with a special commitment to underserved communities, Jarabe Mexicano has forged fruitful collaborations with an array of both public and private organizations, academic institutions and government entities — all in their effort to help bridge the frontiers between musical genres, diverse cultures and generations.
On Sept. 22 at 3 p.m., the Fall Fiesta continues with Lone Piñon performing at the OPAC.
The acoustic duo is home in northern New Mexico and their music celebrates the integrity of their region’s cultural roots.
Multi-instrumentalists Noah Martinez and Jordan Wax use the fiddle, bajo quinto (a Mexican five double-stringed instrument), accordion, quinta huapanguera (Mexican 8-string 5-course instrument), mandolin, guitars and bilingual vocals to play a wide spectrum of the traditional music that is at home in New Mexico.
The north of New Mexico has long been a crossroads of cultures, and centuries of intersecting histories, trade routes, migrations and cultural movements have endowed the region with an expansive and rich musical heritage. After centuries of continuity, today the sounds of the old strands of New Mexican traditional music have become very scarce in their home territory. But testaments and bridges to this older world have remained in recordings and, most importantly, in the living memory of elders.
The musicians of Lone Piñon learned from elder musicians who instilled in them a respect for continuity and an example of the radicalism, creativity, and cross-cultural solidarity that has always been necessary for musical traditions to adapt and thrive in each generation.
In 2014, they started Lone Piñon as a way to explore and strengthen the oldest sounds of traditional New Mexico string music, sounds that had all but disappeared from daily life. Through relationship with elders, study of field recordings, connections to parallel traditional music and dance revitalization movements in the U.S. and Mexico, and hundreds of performances, they have brought the language of New Mexico traditional music and related regional traditions back onto the modern stage, back onto dance floors, and back into the ears of a young generation.
Early on in the process, their involvement in New Mexican styles opened up connections to a network of related styles that cross state, national and generational borders. The duo’s active repertoire reflects the complexity of this musical landscape and includes early conjunto duets, contemporary New Mexico rancheras, New Mexico swing, Hispanic Texan fiddle styles, Tohono O’odham fiddle tunes from Arizona, huapangos from the Mexican Huasteca region, and several styles of music from Michoacán: son calentano and son planeco from the southern lowlands and son abajeño from the P’urepecha highlands.
Noah Martinez (bajo quinto, quinta huapanguera, guitar, tololoche, guitarrón, electric bass) grew up in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque and immersed himself in the music of his community: Onda Chicana, New Mexican rancheras, punk rock, norteño and country. For five years, he was the regular bassist for The Knightcappers of Albuquerque’s north valley, where he learned to play ranchera and onda chicana under the guidance of seasoned musicians. He is a descendant of several generations of activists who have worked to protect the agricultural and cultural traditions of Native New Mexicans and he raises sheep and goats at his home in the south valley of Albuquerque.
Jordan Wax (violin, piano- and two-row accordions, mandolin, guitar, vocals) grew up in Missouri and was traditionally trained by master Ozark fiddler Fred Stoneking and Central Missouri dance fiddler John White. He worked as bandleader and accordionist for a Jewish dance band for years before his work with Missouri and New Mexico fiddle styles inspired him to travel to Mexico for a six-month immersion in Mexican huapango fiddling, here he learned from Rolando “El Quecho” Hernandez of Trio Chicontepec, Casimiro Granillo of Trio Chicamole, and a variety of local fiddlers in the Huasteca region of San Luis Potosí. His studies of traditional New Mexico dance music have been guided and inspired in the past years by Tomas Maes — a mandolinist of Santa Fe — and Antonia Apodaca — accordionist and guitarist of Rociada. In 2018, he traveled to Morelia, Michoacan for a few weeks of intensive study with master son calentano violinist Serafin Ibarra Cortez and P’urepecha elder and composer Tata Pedro Dimas.
For special projects and performances in 2019, Martinez and Wax will be collaborating with Tanya Nuñez (upright bass) and Lia Martinez (vocals) of Albuquerque.
In the past years, Lone Piñon has played extensively throughout the Southwest and the U.S. and recorded three studio albums: Trio Nuevomexicano (2016), Días Felices, (2017) and Dále Vuelo, (2019). Their fourth album, Nuevas Acequias, Río Viejo: Traditional Music of Northern New Mexico is available pre-release at select shows and tours and set for general release in 2020.
In August 2018, they were invited by the Library of Congress and the American Folklife Center to Washington D.C., where they recorded a concert and an oral history of their work with New Mexico and Mexican musical traditions. This year, they were honored to teach and perform Northern New Mexico fiddle and dance alongside traditional masters from across North America and Europe at Centrum’s Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend, Washington. An award-winning documentary about their work with traditional music, “En Donde los Bailadores se Entregan los Corazones,” has premiered at select screenings in the U.S. and is planned for film festivals in the U.S. and Mexico starting in late 2019. The band recently received the Parsons Award from the American Folklife Center, which will bring them back to the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. to study their collection of field recordings of Northern New Mexican musicians.
The duo has performed at the Millenium Stage at the Kennedy Center, Washington D.C., The Lincoln Center out-of-doors, in New York City among others.
For more information, visit artesiaartscouncil.com or call 575-746-4212.