Click on an audio track to hear Mexi-Son!
Click to watch our video interviews!
Introducing Mexilachian Son
In this project, Estela, David and Zenen spent time together, during the fall of 2018, interviewing Latino immigrants in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia, collecting their stories, and turning them into song. The medium for this project, was the musical style known as Son Jarocho, which is afro-mestizo musical form emanating from 18th Century Veracruz, Mexico. Zenen Zeferino is a master of this style, and joined Estela and David in reimagining these traditional songs, with Appalachian stylings, and creating new poetic verses that reflect the stories and struggles of the interview subjects, a truly inspiring and humbling undertaking.
Why is this important?
By studying the poetry of Son Jarocho, and by learning the stories of new immigrants, Estela and David seek to shed light on the lives and struggles of a marginalized people in our midst, and edify their stories with the highest level of song craft. Immigration policy and immigrants are hugely divisive political issues. This is inspired in part by the work of journalists James and Deborah Fallows, who have been examining the experience of communities in "heartland America” in reclaiming their civic narrative and redeveloping their economies, often in post-industrial or post small scale agriculture America.
Luray, Harrisonburg, and the central Shenandoah Valley are places that are absolutely attempting to redefine themselves in an environment where middle class factory and agricultural jobs have suffered, as consumer goods manufacture has migrated to other states and countries. In the Fallows’ reporting, rancor over immigration is usually inversely proportional to the presence of actual immigrants in a community. Most communities who have seen a decent amount of immigration to their region in recent years have noted the economic and cultural benefit of these new immigrants.
It is our belief that telling the stories of these individuals and bringing them into an emerging Virginia musical tradition forwards the process of humanizing this population, and bringing them out of marginalization — to everybody’s benefit.
LIVE: Mexican son meets the music of Appalachia
These concerts are a multi-media presentation, highlighting the Virginia Humanities grant supported project, Mexilachian Son: New Songs From an Emerging Virginia Culture. In this project, Zenen and Estela conducted video interviews with Latino immigrants in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia, and inspired by their stories, created new arrangements of traditional Son Jarocho classics, combining the propulsive rhythms and soaring vocals of Son Jarocho with the traditional melodies and harmonies of Appalachian songs and ballads.
The presentation features a selection of these innovative collaborations, along with video clips of interviews, and a description of their shared poetic structures.
To contact us about performances or presentations, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is Son Jarocho?
The poetic verse in Son Jarocho, contemporary themes in an emerging Virginia culture
Son Jarocho is a music, a poetry, a culture, from Veracruz, Mexico. It consists of traditional songs and traditional verses which have evolved over hundreds of years in the isolation of the coastal plains of the state of Veracruz, in southern Mexico, adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico. It is a beautiful tradition of rural festivals, of percussive foot dancing, african rhythms on string instruments such as the jarana, requinto, and the arpa, and soaring vocals with clever improvisation. It has parallels in the traditions of rural Appalachia, in the clogging, the oftentimes frenetic string rhythms, the high lonesome vocals. Over the past several years, Estela Knott and Dave Berzonsky have been exploring those parallels, and bringing the music of Veracruz to audiences in Virginia.
In 2016 and 2017, with the support of VFH, they engaged in a residency with Mexican artists, including Zenen Zeferino Huervo, exploring the roots of the son jarocho culture, and culminating in a series of performance presentations, and workshops, in schools and cultural centers in central Virginia. In this grant application, they propose to deepen that work with Zenen Zeferino, focusing particularly on the poetic forms of the traditional son jarocho verses, and adapting them to contemporary themes within the Mexican immigrant community of central Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley. Through interviews with new immigrants and migrants, they seek to bring out the stories of an emerging, and often invisible culture, and transform those stories into song.
may 12 3:30-5:00pm
McGuffey Arts Center, 201 2nd Street NW, Studio 11, CVille VA 22901
Another presentation of New Mexilachian Sones with Lua Project.
may 11 3:30-5:00pm
Warehouse Arts Center, 15 Campbell Street, Luray VA 22935
This was a presentation of New Mexilachian Sones with Lua Project, a Charlottesville based folk roots ensemble featuring Luray native Estela Knott, performing with Son Jarocho master Zenen Zeferino.
Who are we?
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Luminaria Cville is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas,
a non-profit arts service organization.Contributions for the purposes of Luminaria Cville must be made payable to
Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible
to the extent permitted by law.