Puerto Rican and Mexican Cultural Traditions Come Together for this Weekend's Bombazo Fandango!

Categories: Latino scene, Q&As
Rudy Rude
Bombazo Fandango
See Also:
*All Day Santa Ana Summer Festival Puts the Movement in Music
*Son del Centro Benefit Show This Friday
*Calle 13 Bring Their Latin Grammy Nominated Music to the House of Blues Anaheim

The worlds of Puerto Rican bomba and Mexican son jarocho will come together in mutual admiration this Saturday in SanTana for the third annual Bombazo Fandango. The free, two-day event highlights the living musical traditions while bringing their faithful practitioners from as far away Chicago and Veracruz. On Friday, the windy city's acclaimed bomba group Buya will headline alongside a performance by Mexican jaranero and versador Patricio Hidalgo. The event, which includes workshops and discussions, will also feature music from LA's Atabey as well as Proyecto Jarocho. Local SanTana faves Son del Centro are taking the occasion to release their second, self-titled album. Last but not least, the actual Bombazo Fandango itself ends it all on Saturday night.

Before all the Mexi-Rican music madness commences, the Weekly spoke with local bombero Hector Rivera and Son del Centro member Ana Urzua to learn more about both rich cultural traditions.

OC Weekly (Gabriel San Roman): What is bomba for people who may not be familiar with it?

Rivera: Bomba is the oldest living musical genre hundreds of years old from Puerto Rico.It is a series of more than ten different rhythms. It is our manifestation of African influence on our culture. It is call and response. It is percussion. It is dance. And in terms of the dance it is an expression of our dignity.

Ana, son jarocho has taken root in Santa Ana for years now. Tell us about Son del Centro's latest record and what it represents within the cultural tradition.

This second album is really a continuation of our work. It is tied to the principles of how we are rooted in the music's origins, culture, traditions and people that we have learned it from. The foundation has been the music group at El Centro Cultural. In this new CD you will hear recordings from our kids workshop. There's also another track by our adult music class.

Both bomba and son jarocho are unique expressions, but what do you see as their overlapping commonalities?

Rivera: There's several. One is the dancer creates music in both. The dancer in bomba follows rhythm but improvises with his or her dance steps and a lead drummer has to mark and interpret those dance steps so the dancer is creating music. Likewise in son jarocho, the dancer zapateando, or kind of stomping, is also creating music following a rhythm being played. In addition, of course, both are manifestations of the legacy of Africa in the Americas.

Urzua: Their both cultural traditions of very local places. There was a festival that I just missed in Puerto Rico that is set around a saint in that town every year. That's the same tradition that we have in son jarocho in Veracruz where that's part of their annual festivities. Both genres have also gone through a period of not being learned and devalued by commercialization. In both cases, there's been efforts to go back and learn from the elders of the community so as to continue and share the tradition.

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