October 10, 2007

There is a touring group of bands called the North American Festival of Traditional Arts (with the initials NAFTA in case you didn't get it) with three traditional bands from Mexico, the US, and Canada. It sounds pretty good.

The Mexican band is Grupo Mono Blanco, which is a really great Son Jarocho band from Veracruz, with a fantastic jarana player. (Their webpage is
here in Spanish, there is a little bit of it in English). They have at least one cd out on Arhoolie. You can hear some of their stuff on Amazon. When we were down in Veracruz last winter I found a bunch of their cds that you can't buy in the US (or at least, I've never seen them) so I was excited to find them.

The other bands are an old time band from Tennessee that I have never heard of (but the fiddler sure looks stern), and a French Canadian band. I would bet that they are both decent, even though French Canadian music can get a bit tiresome if it lacks an edge. But Grupo Mono Blanco is not to be missed.

They are playing up the east coast, and maybe where you are right now. They just played in Roanoke (you can read about it here, and are in Norfolk on Oct 11 at the Attucks theatre (where absolutely nothing ever happens. It is a theatre rebuilt to its 1920s golden era glory a few years ago, right in the heart of a slum you would be crazy to stop your car in. Thus, a beautiful and unused theatre. That aside, all I have to say is--but of course there will be a Son Jarocho band coming to Norfolk the one time I am not there, dammit).

The tour is going up the coast through Arlington, VA, Erie, PA and New Cumberland, PA and probably other places, so it is possible you can catch it if you can figure out what obscure theatre in what rundown city they are playing in.

Amazingly, and irritatingly, this tour does not seem to have its own webpage to check, at least that I can find. Who is to blame for that oversight, do you think, the drunk and lazy Mexicans, the toothless and violent hillbillies, or the insane French Canadians? Reader, take your pick.

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