No, nothing about that man, except by way of immersing in Mexican culture this last week, where I’ve felt comfortable and safe since my childhood in Riverside.
Some of why I haven’t written will find its way in here—I will be writing more again now—but for now I just want to tell you about the Riverside County Fair/National Date Festival—mainly about the Voz De Mando concert Sunday night.
I’ve been poking around finding out more about their music—want to translate the lyrics, some are very radical: I confess I couldn’t make out most of it. But they’re really, really good—brothers, the main vocalist is the accordion player (small instruments and he can and does roam that stage). He’s very charismatic live—dark and handsome, not tall—a chunky guy, beautiful, very Mexican I mean this was Mexican from Mexico culture as much as local. Still haven’t found “officially” how many people the Fantasy Springs Concert Pavilion holds (on the grass at the Fair)—two thousand? These are the people’s concerts, included with admission to the Fair, sponsored by the booming Fantasy Springs Casino Resort.
The Casino clearly overshadows the Indio area (much like the giant jail going up next to the fairgrounds)—that’s where the big names play: Mary J Blige tonight, just missed Bonnie Raitt!! Kenny G, Brian Wilson, Frankie Valli, Paul Anka, Paul Rodgers Smash Moth and DJ Doc upcoming.
But this people’s concert was my kind of night. Great musicians—tight! Just four instruments: drums (Adrian Gonzalez, wow), guitar instrument called bajo quinto ("fifth bass"), 10 strings in 5 double courses—played by one of the two brothers, Miquel Gaxiola, who writes their originals. A tuba for bass!! Delightful performer (that tuba doesn’t keep him from prancing around the stage) Eduardo “El Chino” Gonzalez. But the star is the other Gaxiola brother Jorge, accordian player and main vocalist, and he is irresistible. Needless to say his fans are madly in love with him.
Honestly, I never thought I would love traditional Mexican music like this, but I can’t get it out of my head. It did have that Mexican promotion-style flavor (with dedications!) which made me chuckle, & oom-pa-pa (tuba!) for sure—corridos, correos, cumbia—fabulous rhythms not just in ¾ of course, & even in 5! What joy. Beautiful ballads too.
This gives a taste—Muchacho de Campo—though much tamer than our show.
This below was their breakout hit, and gives some sense of the audience, but without the fancy light show.
And then there was the fair—memories foremost, for I rode in the horseshow there several years. No more horseshow sadly, and for a silly minute I thought no more animals besides the camels and ostriches (the Thousand Nights theme still) but I found them: children raising goats, sheep, pigs, cows, chickens. The midway is superb. And all that barbecue & rich food—ruffle cakes, oh my! I didn’t try them.
Topped this off last night by seeing Zoot Suit at the Mark Taper Forum.
A 2017 remount of a 1978 production about a horrible series of events during the war, 1942-44. And the racism still runs, and the culture of music and dancing is still our salvation.