Finding Your Inner Fandango
The Music of Quetzal
as an Adventure in Justice
Music can empower people, inspiring them to dance their dignity.
The Southern California band Quetzal recently celebrated its 20th anniversary with a blowout concert that seemed to attract as many musicians as regular people. The band has maintained such a strong presence in the SoCal Chicano music scene that its members could be consideredpadrinos and padrinas of that free-flowing musical community.
Music can also help people re-imagine themselves with help from animals and other living beings.
Its latest album, Quetzanimales, expands the band's legacy with a concept that pays tribute to different animals found in the urban landscape: night owls, coyotes, spiders, squirrels, a rooster. The lyrics offer lessons that reflect the group's stated philosophy: the re-imagination of human life in relation to other living things.
In this way music can contribute to hopes for a more just and sustainable world.
The Fandango: An All-Day, All-Night Festival of Music, Dance, Ritual
That the son jarocho tradition is such a primary influence on Quetzal is no coincidence then. Though the style had long been commercialized within the Mexican record industry for decades, beginning in the 1970s, musicians began to reclaim the son jarocho, not just its songs but the broader community traditions around it, especially the fandango, an all-day/all-night fiesta that Gonzalez describes as a "musical, poetic, dance ritual." The fandango is not merely about playing son jarocho songs, it's about the social and interpersonal ties that are forged and strengthened through the events themselves. Quetzal members began traveling back and forth between L.A. and Veracruz, first participating in fandangos there and then gradually staging reaching out to likeminded friends and fans out here to stage their own.As they began to slowly build a fandango tradition in Southern California, Quetzal also strove to record their music, releasing an impressive four albums over their first decade. However, after 2006's "Die Cowboy Die," they found themselves at a crossroads. They had made a name for themselves but they were still scrapping for every resource they could to keep touring and recording. Band members were getting restless for greater success, Flores and Gonzalez wanted more stability in order to start a family, and in the midst of this, Gonzalez received an offer she couldn't refuse: a scholarship to pursue a PhD in ethnomusicology at the University of Washington.