‘Fandango on the Wall’ Multimedia Challenge Breaks Down Obstacles


In 2008, impressed by the son jarocho music from Veracruz, Mexico, Jorge Castillo, a retired librarian residing in Chula Vista, Calif., organized a live performance on the Mexico-American border between San Diego and Tijuana.

This gathering of musicians, a cross-border jam session generally known as the Fandango Fronterizo Competition, has been going robust ever since. Going down yearly on or round Memorial Day, tons of of individuals on each side of the border wall eat, sing and partake within the fandango festivities, the regional folks music strummed on jarana jarocha guitars a joyous celebration of Mexico and its myriad cultures and other people.

“We name the fandangos the trip of peace, the route of peace, as a result of each time we come collectively we’re all the time in friendship, we’re all the time celebrating,” says Castillo, who was born in El Paso, Texas, and raised in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. “Musically, it brings individuals collectively on the border. Even the wall brings individuals collectively by way of music. We overlook about politics and we have a good time being collectively. We have a good time unity.

“The fandango brings collectively individuals from two international locations which have lots of rigidity — Mexico and america — and we come collectively in peace and thru music.”

Just a few years again, Arturo O’Farrill, the Mexican-born, New York-reared pianist, composer and founding father of the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance, learn concerning the fandango in a New York Occasions article and knew immediately that it may kind the idea for a venture that “would tear down the human partitions made between individuals.”

“I feel I truly cried after I examine it, it simply appeared like such highly effective and chic activism,” says O’Farrill, who’s gained a number of Grammy awards. “I keep in mind pondering that the facility actually rests in human beings in unity. It’s nearly a foregone conclusion that it doesn’t matter what governments you reside in, will probably be run by depraved individuals or people who find themselves designing the proceedings to learn the few.

“Democracy, capitalism, socialism — somebody is all the time benefiting from another person. And partitions shall be constructed and human beings will separate themselves for the needs of bigotry and hatred and greed. That is the historical past of america. We’ve got lived by way of [former FBI head J. Edgar] Hoover, we have now lived by way of [President] Nixon, we have now lived by way of McCarthyism. So for me, it’s all the time been a private alternative for human beings to decide on to not hate, and to have a good time life.”

“We’re going by way of bizarre political occasions. there’s nativism on the land and xenophobia however there may be additionally … love.”
Douglas Brinkley

Thus started “Fandango on the Wall,” a three-tier venture — album, e-book and documentary (in progress) — that responds to the present immigration disaster on the border in a approach that’s instructional and elucidating, and paints a riveting, nuanced image of the complicated and long-standing relationship between Mexico and america.

4-time Grammy-winner Kabir Sehgal, Rafa Sardina and Doug Davis produced the album “Fandango on the Wall: A Soundtrack for america, Mexico and Past,” which options O’Farrill and the Latin Jazz Orchestra together with 50 visitor musicians recording fandango-inspired songs performed stay on the U.S.-Mexico border, on the Casa De La Cultura in Tijuana and Energy Studios in New York.

“When it comes to tradition, there are various Mexicos inside Mexico. Our venture occurs to deal with son jarocho,” says Sehgal, who additionally penned the e-book “Fandango on the Wall: Creating Concord Between america and Mexico,” which features a foreword by CNN presidential historian and Rice College historical past professor Douglas Brinkley and an afterword by ambassador Andrew Younger.

“When you learn the e-book, I feel individuals will change into extra educated about their native communities,” Sehgal says. “There are tens of hundreds of thousands of Hipanics who stay throughout America in each state, and understanding extra about their tradition means you’re much less afraid of their tradition. Mexico shouldn’t be going wherever, America shouldn’t be going wherever.

“We’ve been pals and foes over many many years and it’s this pendulum that swings backwards and forwards. There’ve been horrible occasions by which each international locations have invaded one another. There’ve been stunning occasions of strong commerce and tourism. Not solely are individuals going from Mexico to America, however 1 million Individuals are going to Mexico. Our economies are interlinked, our faiths are interlinked, so we have now to succeed collectively. And I hope when individuals learn the e-book they study that we shouldn’t be demonizing our neighbors; we must be constructing bridges to behave collectively.”

For Brinkley, who has skilled a “starvation to protest” ever since President Trump was elected, the “Fandango on the Wall” venture is a technique to dispel bigotry and dissipate the rampant xenophobia trampling over america.

The Fandango Fronterizo attracts musicians from Mexico and america.
Courtesy of Kabir Sehgal

“The nationwide dialog is so warped,” says Brinkley, who was additionally a co-producer on the album. “However you utilize your instruments of your commerce. I’m an historian and a musician and people are my two nice loves, so once we labored on the ‘Fandango’ venture it was an concept of elevating a musical tradition and the multiculturalism of the border zone in addition to reminding individuals of the environmental fantastic thing about the world and the complicated historical past of the border and likewise of Texas historical past. ”

Brinkley urges Individuals to “learn the true historical past of the border, to go and see it for your self, and don’t comply with bombastic rhetoric,” and considers the venture one other means by way of which we, as considerate Americans, can defy the poison of hatred and bigotry and categorical our collective admiration for Mexico and its individuals.

“I wished individuals which are of Mexican-American heritage or individuals in Mexico or all of Latin America to know that almost all Individuals love them,” says Brinkley. “We’re going by way of bizarre political occasions. There’s nativism on the land and xenophobia, however there may be additionally all types of affection for Mexican individuals and tradition. Our international locations have histories which are so intertwined and it saddens me to suppose that someone who’s a current arrival right here or a dreamer would possibly suppose that our nation is type of touting white supremacy or echoing Donald Trump or Charlottesville when he refused to totally denounce the neo-Nazis.

“Educationally, we hope the venture introduces individuals to several types of music, teaches them what the fandango is and the music out of Veracruz, Mexico. And in a bigger sense, we hope this will get them to consider the border another way. If you hear concerning the Mexican-U.S. border don’t instantly image a fence, however image a wonderful ecosystem of the Rio Grande and its environs.

“It’s a small contribution, however I feel it would encourage different individuals to do up the pleasant protest, not out of hate or anger however out of affection and therapeutic.”

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