Fieldwork Diary #2: Marimba Linda Xelajú at Catholic University

 

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The end of March was approaching, and Marimba Linda Xelajú performed in Washington D.C. as part of the lineup for “Rhythms of Latin America” at Catholic University of AmericaThe walls were decorated with Latin American flags and the hosts offered pupusas and agua de jamaica to the guests that awaited the various groups that represented North, Central, and South America. 

The concert began with a performance by Marimba Linda Xelajú, with cumbias and some folkloric songs. In between performances by the guests, the dance group choreographed by Junior Girón danced to salsa, merengue, and bachata.

Mariachi Águila performed songs including “Las Mañanitas” for the birthday girls in the audience. If you listen closely, you can hear something a little bit unexpected – an accordion. When I asked the mariachis why they included the instrument, they told me that many audiences ask them to perform corridos.

Lastly, Grupo Etnia performed various songs including “El Condor Pasa”, “El Torito Pinto”, and even “Despacito”. This audio is a small section of their performance of “El Torito Pinto”, which they described as a Salvadoran song.

Son Jarocho at Haydee’s with Son La Lucha

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Celebrating “La Paloma at the Wall” at Haydee’s with Son La Lucha

Haydee’s Restaurant features images of musicians such as Juan Gabriel and Selena. However, it’s their relationship with the local music scene that has made this restaurant a place of encounter in the Mount Pleasant, a historically Latino neighborhood in the nation’s capital.

On March 16, the theater production “La Paloma at the Wall” was celebrated through a workshop and fandango with Son La Lucha. The group is described as: “a space to learn and share El Son and other traditions, to organize and resist as a group, to strengthen ourselves, our youth and our community, to learn skills from volunteers and support social justice efforts.”

Referring to Son Jarocho, a musical tradition from Veracruz, Mexico, this event brought a workshop of the jarana and the requinto. After learning about these instruments (both beginners and more experienced musicians are welcome), we walked downstairs where the fandango was about to take place – a participatory gathering where the performers improvise. In addition, dancers are invited to dance on the wooden stage in the middle called the tarima

The participatory nature of the tradition lends itself very well for the context. According to Alfredo, “In the past 8 years the son jarocho movement in Washington D.C. has activated the fandango as a way to create community for progressive politics and community resistance throughout the US, but most importantly to keep the torch of the son jarocho tradition alive for future generations.” 

Fieldwork Diary #1: Marimba Linda Xelajú at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart

 

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The Maryland-based marimba group Marimba Linda Xelajú performed on March 20th after a service that honored the Salvadoran Saint Óscar Arnulfo Romero. Located in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood in Washington D.C., this service took place in the Shrine of the Sacred Heart and was accompanied by a children’s choir that sang a repertoire that included the Misa Salvadoreña. 

Following the live music and the pupusas, the attendants followed the crowd to the adjacent community hall. There, the smell of Salvadoran food and the group Marimba Linda Xelajú were awaiting for the students and other attendants. As soon as the first song was heard, the middle school students began dancing to the cumbias and other traditional songs from Guatemala.