by Felix Contreras
This fall, Mexican folk music takes the spotlight in two separate documentaries.
Linda and the Mocking Birds takes a trip to a small town in northern Mexico with Linda Ronstadt. She accompanies a group of young musicians and dancers from the Bay Area cultural group Los Cenzontles, which translates to “mockingbirds.” For decades, Ronstadt has supported the group and, despite her low public profile these days, she wholeheartedly participates in telling a story of how music and culture transcends any kind of physical boundary.
In Fandango at the Wall, pianist/composer Arturo O’Farrill takes a musical and personal journey to the border. His father was famed Afro-Cuban jazz composer and arranger Chico O’Farrill and his mother was born in Detroit of Mexican roots. The movie explores the Mexican state of Veracruz and the music (son jarocho) that connects Tijuana and San Diego.
It is a happy coincidence that there are two current documentaries that feature Mexican folk music; they not only reinforce the humanity but also the historic musical ties between Mexico and the U.S.