The here and now... and what and why

Complacency is a trap. At least that’s what I was thinking when I up and left the comfort of a Yankee prep school gig, where I taught music, amongst other things, for 28 years. There was also that life long career as a composer, musician and artist.

First, it was a year in St. Thomas, USVI, working as a reporter and shooting photography and then, a year in San Agustin Etla, Oaxaca, Mexico.
Time passed.
More time passed and a year back in the Athens of America followed by a hasty return to Oaxaca where it is all happening.
A couple of years in San Sebastian Etla and now, just down the road in San Pablo Etla. Life is good.

Click on an image to see it larger.
For additional photography please visit my flickr page.
You can find my music on Jango (World & latin - Worldbeat) and at iTunes and most online stores.
¡Soy consciente de todas las tradiciones del Internet!
If you are coming to Oaxaca, please contact me for tours or advice.

Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo
The view from Corazon del Pueblo

The hereafter re me

My photo
Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico
Musician, photographer, videographer, reporter, ex-officio teacher, now attempting to be a world traveler

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lila Downs in Oaxaca - Oaxaqueña all the way

Last night, in the Auditorio de Guelaguetza, Lila Downs and her band performed and it was a wonderful show, filled with music, beauty and pride.  Lila is a oaxaqueña and was received as such, meaning with love, respect and joy.

The opening group was La Momposina,  a large ensemble whose music had a Caribbean feel.  Their set was filled with dance and lots of rhythm.  I think they had eight percussionists and they laid out some incredible grooves, hypnotic and trance-like.  Really good stuff.

After an hour set, Lila hit the stage and it was pure love... and mighty fine music.  She is such an accomplished performer with an amazing vocal range.  She can sing operatically and she can belt with the finest cantina singers, with a wide range of styles in between.

She had a bottle of mezcal with her when she hit the stage that she carried forward, poured a little on the ground, a tradition zapotec blessing, took a sip and the show was on.

I have to say, the new roof on the auditorio really worked for me.  The sound was good, although loud. La Momposina had a bass drum that one felt deep in one's soul... and that was if you were a mile away.

The one thing I would say is that with the first group, one watched the whole band and all the dancers.  With Lila, I did not notice anyone else on stage.  My eyes never left her.  She is that powerful a presence.  And man, can she sing.

Lila sang some things from her latest album and some classics like, "La Llorana" and "La Martinana" (one of my favorites) many of which, the crowd sang with her. 

Here she is in a serape from Teotitlan del Valle.  If I had to guess, I would say it was from Arnufo Mendoza.

Photos were tough because, uh, it was dark.  I should have brought a different camera, but here's what I got.

From the closing number, "La Llorona."
A beautiful evening.  ¡Viva Oaxaca!   ¡Viva Lila!


oaxacakate said...

Soooo jealous to have missed this. Your first shot of Lila says it all. Great pics.

Bev/Steve said...

Hey Chris
We are home in Connecticut. Just bought tix to see Lila at Carniege Hall!!! Nov 15 . Can't wait

Christopher Stowens said...

You missed a good one. Obviously, Oaxaca is a special place for Lila. She lives here, so there was a really special energy goin' on.

Great to meet you finally. Come back soon. I mean, CT in Feb???

Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC said...

The sarape that Lila Downs wears was handwoven by Erasto "Tito" Mendoza of Teotitlan del Valle, a cousin of Arnulfo Mendoza. Lila commissioned it from Tito several years ago. Tito worked for Arnulfo at La Mano Magica, but two years ago he and his wife, Alejandrina Rios, opened Galeria El Nahual on 5 de Mayo in the Centro Historico where they show Tito's work. Tito is also a featured artist at the summer Santa Fe International Folk Art Market.

Christopher Stowens said...

Gracias, Norma, for the info on the beautiful serape. I want one! But I want to play piano for Lila, too. I guess we can't always get what we want...hmmm, that sounds familiar "We get what we need."

I will have to stop in Tito's galeria. What beautiful work!!

Lester D. said...

That was a terrific concert! Good to see the photos...