In 2008, impressed by the son jarocho music from Veracruz, Mexico, Jorge Castillo, a retired librarian dwelling 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 referred to as the Fandango Fronterizo Pageant, has been going sturdy ever since. Going down yearly on or round Memorial Day, a whole bunch of individuals on either side of the border wall eat, sing and partake within the fandango festivities, the regional people music strummed on jarana jarocha guitars a joyous celebration of Mexico and its myriad cultures and folks.

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

“The fandango brings collectively folks from two nations which have quite a lot of pressure — Mexico and the USA — 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 might type the idea for a mission that “would tear down the human partitions made between folks.”

“I believe I really cried after I examine it, it simply appeared like such highly effective and chic activism,” says O’Farrill, who’s received a number of Grammy awards. “I bear in mind considering that the facility actually rests in human beings in unity. It’s virtually a foregone conclusion that it doesn’t matter what governments you reside in, it will likely be run by depraved folks or people who find themselves designing the proceedings to profit the few.

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

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

Thus started “Fandango on the Wall,” a three-tier mission — album, ebook and documentary (in progress) — that responds to the present immigration disaster on the border in a method that’s academic and elucidating, and paints a riveting, nuanced image of the advanced and long-standing relationship between Mexico and the USA.

4-time Grammy-winner Kabir Sehgal, Rafa Sardina and Doug Davis produced the album “Fandango on the Wall: A Soundtrack for the USA, Mexico and Past,” which options O’Farrill and the Latin Jazz Orchestra together with 50 visitor musicians recording fandango-inspired songs performed reside 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 mission occurs to deal with son jarocho,” says Sehgal, who additionally penned the ebook “Fandango on the Wall: Creating Concord Between the USA 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.

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“When you learn the ebook, I believe folks will turn out to be extra educated about their native communities,” Sehgal says. “There are tens of hundreds of thousands of Hipanics who reside throughout America in each state, and figuring out extra about their tradition means you’re much less afraid of their tradition. Mexico will not be going anyplace, America will not be going anyplace.

“We’ve been pals and foes over many a long time and it’s this pendulum that swings forwards and backwards. There’ve been horrible instances during which each nations have invaded one another. There’ve been stunning instances of strong commerce and tourism. Not solely are folks going from Mexico to America, however 1 million People are going to Mexico. Our economies are interlinked, our faiths are interlinked, so we’ve to succeed collectively. And I hope when folks learn the ebook 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” mission is a option to dispel bigotry and dissipate the rampant xenophobia trampling over the USA.

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

“The nationwide dialog is so warped,” says Brinkley, who was additionally a co-producer on the album. “However you employ 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’ mission it was an concept of elevating a musical tradition and the multiculturalism of the border zone in addition to reminding folks of the environmental great thing about the world and the advanced historical past of the border and likewise of Texas historical past. ”

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

“I needed folks which might be of Mexican-American heritage or folks in Mexico or all of Latin America to know that almost all People love them,” says Brinkley. “We’re going by bizarre political instances. There’s nativism on the land and xenophobia, however there’s additionally all kinds of affection for Mexican folks and tradition. Our nations have histories which might be so intertwined and it saddens me to assume that any individual who’s a latest arrival right here or a dreamer may assume that our nation is sort of touting white supremacy or echoing Donald Trump or Charlottesville when he refused to totally denounce the neo-Nazis.

“Educationally, we hope the mission introduces folks 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. While you hear concerning the Mexican-U.S. border don’t instantly image a fence, however image a stupendous ecosystem of the Rio Grande and its environs.

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

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