Saturday, September 01, 2007


I slept as late as possible today. Then I polished off the final dregs of the fresh garden veggie soup I've been nursing since in-laws filled my sink with produce two weeks ago. Sunshine came home hungry so I also ate an abbreviated dinner. After dinner we went to see Lila Downs* in concert at the Rosslyn Spectrum. I'm not sure we parked legally. Lila Downs is basically an ethno-cultural course in Latin Musical tradition masquerading as a tiny powerhouse of baffling ability.* She was surrounded on her tiny stage by top-notch musicians providing island and Norteño sounds with electric fiddle, alto sax, trumpet, some hot classical drumming, the usual contingent of guitars, and one massive harp. She did everything in her power to direct our attention to this talented band, but her star consistently outshone them. It is true that Lila Downs can sing just as high or low as she wants to. It is true that her vocal instrument possesses more range and complexity than any other instrument on stage (abundantly clear when she out-sang that harp). But what I found most charming was her nimble delivery. It's one thing to sing operatically low phrases punctuated by bursts of haunting, Theremin-esque self-harmony, but Lila Downs can do it in disparate voices, narrating on some meta-level her impressions of the character vocalizing. This boon to Down's exploration into traditional ballads is hard to overvalue. There's an innate theatricality to these boozy overtures she really delivers: she's on her tippy-toes in a flowery halter top stretching up to her microphone but also convincing as an amorous drunkard in the kissing-alley behind your house. It's magic. After the show,1 we were happy to discover our car hadn't been towed, and we immediately embarked on an all-night drive to Kentucky. [Cavin]

Then, a 3 sided conversation ensued...

To which Blogger Mr. Cavin added:

1. The only complaint I have about tonight's wonderful concert was the mostly-lame audience I was in. While there were certainly people there who had shown up on purpose, the majority of participants seemed very stymied that Lila Downs had dared bring a fun musical gig to their dry cultural event. Many stood in the aisles long after the lights dimmed, swilling wine and chatting. Most sat on their asses, observing the stage with an anthropological distance that was perplexing if not appalling. While we tried to clap and sing along, the morose majority eventually dampened our resolve.

Sunday, September 02, 2007 5:39:00 AM  
To which Blogger qemuel added:

Nothing worse than a bad crowd at a good show...

I'm not familiar her, but I liked what I heard on her website.

Sunday, September 02, 2007 12:55:00 PM  
To which Blogger Mr. Cavin added:

I'm glad you got a chance to listen, because what stuff she’s making available for free is really very good. I especially like her Molé song (which I believe is available at the MySpace link). We just got three new CDs at the gig, so hopefully Sunshine will at least let me bring one with me when I come to visit (I also have the first of her albums we ever bought on my iPod). So I'll bet I can acquaint you with more of this stuff soon.

Monday, September 03, 2007 12:13:00 PM  

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