Monday, June 12, 2017

Finding Mexico City, Music Music Music

Since January, I've been able to explore Mexico City a bit more. Little by little I'm discovering the various barrios, the colonias, the histories, the poverty, the crime, but also the great warmth that emanates from all the Mexicans here. I guess for a bit of perspective, let me backtrack to my first week here. Not the trek that I made with my family when I was about 8 years old in Tijuana, but actually the trip to Tepoztlán during my last birthday.

I first came here last June. Planning to get myself acquainted with Mexico I decided to visit one of my friends in Tepoztlán. Se llama Yolanda and her connection actually goes back to my years in Bali when I was introduced to her by another one of my friends. Knowing Yolanda as an anthropologist who was looking into children and how children learn their culture through rituals, I stuck close to her.

Tepoztlan viewed from the tepozteco pyramid
Eventually, I got the opportunity to visit her here in Mexico.  Go towards Cuernavaca in the south and turn east. Tepoztlán is a small pueblo about an hour drive from Mexico City but it also has some ex-patriots living here. The central market is accustomed to tourists. One of the main attractions is climbing the mountain to the Piramide. This is the view you can see from the pyramid but of course I would recommend you actually experience the view from there. You can see Tepoztlán cradled in between the mountains here while Cuernavaca is in the distance to the right of the picture.

Visiting Tepoztlán was a blast but the main thing that I got out of this trip was Yolanda's recommendation to check out a son jarocho class. She claimed only the old people practiced this music but as I know today, Son Jarocho is a very popular living tradition from the state of Veracruz.* From this class, the teacher recommended I look into the classes back in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Gamelan Barudak and a wayang kulit performance, June 2016

Thus, I found the group Son de la Bahia, named from the San Francisco Bay Area and its community. and began my foray in Son Jarocho. This gave me a chance to keep on working at playing Son Jarocho as well as making a couple connections with the Vega Family / Los Vega and Patricio Hidalgo who I later got to learn more from here in Mexico.

One other large musical connection I made was with Gamelan Barudak / Indraswara. Yolanda gave me the name of their teacher, Fitra Ismu, and from there we got to see a performance of him, his gamelan, and a shadow puppet show (wayang kulit).

Saint Patrick's Day Parade 2017
One final music connection was through visiting the festival for Saint Patrick's Day (Dia de San Patricio). With that, I found my current Irish music group that I get to play with. I think it was the wizard hat, robe and the costume design that attracted me to them. Here is a video (Daoine Sidhe) of them in action. Although, I don't think you can hear them playing music. The bagpipes (gaitas) are from a different band.

Ever since then, I've had a blast playing music and going to fandangos, gigs, and more with these artists.

* - There are also different types of Son from other parts of Mexico. Geographically, Son Jarocho extends from the city of Puerta Veracruz all the way to the south past Los Tuxtlas.

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