World music, and that of Veracruz, Mexico, in particular, came to Carmel on Friday. That’s when Son de Madera, an internationally-known band, performed at the Tarkington Theatre at the Center for the Performing Arts.
The four-piece group consisting of Ramon Gutierrez on mandolin, Natalia Arroyo Rodriguez, violin, Oscar Teran, bass and Joe Andres “Tereso” Vega, jarana and harmonica, was presented in partnership with the Mexican Consulate of Indianapolis.
atombash.com observed that amongst the partially filled audience, of which the majority were Latinos, many seemed to be Spanish speakers. That estimation was based on audience members’ audible responses to comments made by the musicians when introducing songs throughout the program. It wasn’t until Act 2 that English was spoken by several band members when addressing the crowd. It’s unfortunate that English lyrics for the songs or at least a synopsis for each was not made available in the printed program for those present who were not fluent in Spanish.
Suffice to say, this non-Spanish speaker reviewer later reached out to E Angeles Martinez Mier, a local resident who is a native of Veracruz. She very graciously provided translation assistance so that writer could adequately review the concert.
Son de Madera, founded in 1992, specializes in interpreting Son Jarocho, a sensual musical and percussive dance genre from Veracruz, where the band is based. They have long been at the forefront of a musical revival of the genre while incorporating new sounds and stylistic perspectives.
Titles included on the band’s song list in Act 1 included “El Balaju, “El Camotal,” “El Gallo,” “El Coco,” “El Torito Abajeño,” “Los Chiles Verdes,” and “El Cascabel.” Act 2 songs were “La lloroncita,” “El Pájaro Cu Los Monos Nuevos,” “El Gavilancito,” “Jarabe Gatuno,” “La Iguana,” and “El Pescador.”
Many of the songs performed by Son de Madera derive from folktales. “El Camotal” (the sweet potato/yam field) is a song about a peasant who grew sweet potatoes. “El Gallo” (the rooster) is about the love of a man for his woman. “Los Chiles Verdes” is about a man’s love for his woman. “El Pescador” is about a fisherman from Veracruz.
For an encore, Son de Madera performed “La Bamba.” Originally from Veracruz, the song is best known from a 1958 adaptation by Ritchie Valens. A top 40 hit in the U.S, it was one of early rock and roll’s most popular songs.
The designer who created the gorgeous lighting for the concert was not credited in the printed program but this writer discovered that it was a Tarkington technical staff member. Whoever was responsible deserves plaudits for creating an atmosphere that was as exotic as the hypnotic Son Jorocho music played by the band.
Cuban-born Tania Castroverde Moskalenko, president and CEO of the Center, is primarily responsible who booking its acts. She deserves praise for presenting groups such as Son de Madera and thereby exposing local audiences to international artists and diverse cultural experiences which only serve to enrich Central Indiana as well as the region.
For tickets and information about the remainder of the 2015-2016 Center for the Performing Arts season call (317) 843-3800 or visit thecenterfortheperformingarts.org.