My last day of reporting at FIMPRO2019 was Thursday – I had to get back to the studio in LA on Friday so I missed the wrap party at the Herradura Tequila brewery. Maybe next year.
Thursday morning I found myself back in the Universidad de Guadalajara Santander Center for the Performing Arts watching an onstage interview with Fredrico Arana, known as the living history of rock music in Mexico. Over the past 50 years Arana has written 30 books on rock music in his home country and thousands of articles, critiques and interviews with bands, taking us through, as he calls it, five decades of “Blue Suede Huaraches”.
After Arana’s tour through Mexican rock history, I stayed in the theater for a special treat — La Marisoul of the Grammy-winning Los Angeles fusion band La Santa Cecelia, now touring nationally. I know Marisoul from interviewing her, so it was fun to catch up on her thoughts on the state of Latino music and hear her play a personal song just for us in the theater. She and I got together later outside for some catch up and photos.
Marisoul was followed on stage by a gut-wrenching but inspiring roundtable on the influence of indigenous peoples on Latin music in the face of their cultural destruction. The panel was led by Mexican actress/director/dancer and human rights activist Ofelia Medina, who pressed the case that Latin music and indigenous music are inseparable – which was demonstrated by actress, musician activist Margo Kane who took out a small drum and performed a haunting ceremonial chant as part of the roundtable.
The afternoon shifted to the Promenade, outside of the Universidad de Guadalajara Santander Center, with food trucks, and later beer bars and tequila samples. This was Argentina Showcase day and featured two bands and a performing artist/singer/songwriter – all spectacular. We opened up with Los Reyes Del Falsete – Kings of Falsetto, who lived up to their name in an astonishing vocal range. Las Ligas Menores, an indie band composed of three women and one guy, wrapped up the day’s showcase with unique harmonies and melodic rock. But the star of the day, for me, came between those acts, the captivating artist/activist/performer, Dat Garcia.
A child of a generation censored during the Argentine military dictatorship of the 1980’s she knows how the government in her parents era oppressed and even murdered artists. As a result, Dat is part of an empowered, activist music generation in Buenos Aires that is not afraid to point out injustice and the need for change, and do it in ways that are impossible to ignore. She walked on stage alone with only a computer, dressed head to toe in a virginal bridal veil, letting us absorb the message that this is how the military wanted women to be seen and not heard. She flung off the veil, launched a loop on her computer and began a remarkable performance of projected visuals, costume, rap, indie rock, folk music and pre-recorded native flutes and drums. At one point she picked up a charango (small Argentine guitar), and serenaded us in a sweet, storytelling voice, with looping aboriginal drumming in the background. The performance was breathtaking.
And things ratcheted up from there.
As usual, FIMPRO2019 at night spread out over a number of venues, each dedicated to the bands of a different country. I chose Chango Vudú, a large bar and restaurant with a first class music venue in an underground space that was programmed with Chilean artists that night.
Three bands entertained a noisy crowd with rock, punk and ballads from Chile. The standout to me was Paz Court and her trio. Drenched in brilliant red light, Paz ranged from jazz, to folk to punk to indie, all with a crystal clear and at times operatic voice, and for one song a megaphone (not necessary in the low-ceilinged club, but very effective) to a charango, shifting her voice into overdrive. Starkly beautiful in a simple blue, sleeveless sheath turned almost blood colored in the red light, short bobbed blond hair, and hugely oversized earrings, she attracted photographers and video cameras by the dozen as she filled the room with her unique sound. As one of the photographers doing a careful dance around one another while filming in front of the small stage, I was lucky to feel her full power – and get a wink.
People party late in Latin America so as the bands wrapped up around midnight the DJ’s came on and kept things moving until…
I’ll be back next year, operating out of my new broadcasting studio outside of Guadalajara, a great place to follow the scene behind the scene of music in both Mexico and LA LA Land.