Tag: folk


Quetzal – Great Music from LA – Son Jarocho…

In the youtube channel of Smithsonian Folkways I have discovered some videos with a group named Quetzal. I was immediately fascinated by the music of Quetzal, and so I want to present those videos here.

In those videos you can see a number of Mexican pucked strings instruments, but I am not completely sure which instruments are really played in those videos. The instruments are most probably the instruments from the region of Veracruzin Mexico, similar to jarana jarocha and guitarra de son / requinto jarocho – you can find descriptions of those instruments in the Atlas of Plucked Instruments.

I have found the following information about Quetzal in wikipedia:

The band was founded by Quetzal Flores, with the intention of pushing the boundaries of Chicano music and is currently one of Los Angeles’ most important and successful groups. They play a mix of Mexican and Afro-Cuban rhythms, jazz, rhythm and blues, and rock music, supercharged by the dynamic vocals of the singer Martha Gonzalez. Their commitment to using art as a tool for social change is informed and inspired by global grassroots movements. They have also been instrumental in developing Fandango Sin Fronteras, a dialog between Chicanos from California and Jarochos (musicians from Veracruz, Mexico).


I have also found the following information about  the Son Jarocho:

Son Jarocho is a traditional musical style of Veracruz, a Mexican state along the Gulf of Mexico. It evolved over the last two and a half centuries along the coastal portions of southern Tamaulipas state and Veracruz state, hence the term jarocho, a colloquial term for people or things from the port city of Veracruz. It represents a fusion of indigenous (primarily Huastecan), Spanish, and African musical elements, reflecting the population which evolved in the region from Spanish colonial times. Lyrics include humorous verses and subjects such as love, nature, sailors, and cattle breeding that still reflect life in colonial and 19th century Mexico. Verses are often shared with the wider Mexican and Hispanic Caribbean repertoire and some have even been borrowed from famous works by writers of the Spanish “Siglo de Oro”. It is usually performed by an ensemble of musicians and instruments which collectively are termed a “conjunto jarocho”.[1]

The instruments most commonly associated with Son Jarocho are the jarana jarocha, a small guitar-like instrument used to provide a harmonic base, with strings arranged in a variety of configurations; the requinto jarocho, another small guitar-like instrument plucked with a long pick traditionally made from cow-horn, usually tuned to a higher pitch and with a four or five thick nylon strings; the arpa jarocha, and sometimes a minor complement of percussion instruments such as pandero(especially in the style of Tlacotalpan), cajón and quijada (an instrument made of a donkey or horse jawbone).[2] Son Jarocho is often played only on jaranas and sung in a style in which several singers exchange improvised verses called décimas, often with humorous or offensive content. The most widely known son jarocho is “La Bamba”, which has been popularized through the version by Ritchie Valens and the American movie of the same name. Other famous sones jarochos are “El Coco” and “La Iguana” and “El Cascabel”, all of which have a call and response form, and “El Chuchumbé”, “La Bruja”.

Quetzal Performs “Estoy Aqui” at the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival


“Todo Lo Que Tengo (All That I Have)” by Quetzal from “Imaginaries”

Estoy Aqui – Quetzal

“Imaginaries” by Quetzal from the Smithsonian Folkways album “Imaginaries”

Playlist Quetzal

Additional Information

NPR – Quetzal on Mountain Stage: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=98329470

Wikipedia about Son Jarocho: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Son_Jarocho

Atlas of Plucked Instruments – North America and Mexiko: http://www.atlasofpluckedinstruments.com/n_america.htm

Website of the band CONJUNTO TENOCELOMEH with further information about the Son Jarocho: http://www.sonjarocho.com/

Podcasts with Son Jarocho: http://jarochelo.com/


John Cohen (The New Lost City Ramblers) joins the…

A new CD with the Dust Busters has just be released by Smithsonian Folkways – a collaboration between musician and filmmaker John Cohen and the Dust Busters.

The following video presents John Cohen:

American Standard Time Presents John Cohen

In the following great animation video John Cohen tells about his first meeting with Harry Smith:

Some Crazy Magic: Meeting Harry Smith

The following press release gives all the details about this new and interesting CD release:

Press Release


On Aug. 14, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings will release ‘Old Man Below,’ a collaboration between Brooklyn, New York-based folk trio The Dust Busters and their mentor, folk music legend John Cohen of The New Lost City Ramblers.

The 20-song collection features old-time American folk, jug band blues, fiddle tunes, and ballads passed down through earlier generations of folk musicians and learned from 1920s and ’30s recordings. John Cohen has helped guide The Dust Busters (all in their 20s) since the group formed in 2008 and began visiting Cohen’s home in Putnam Valley, New York, to jam, cook, and soak up as much of the music and its history as possible.

“The Dust Busters start where the New Lost City Ramblers left off, evoking the golden age of the 1920s and 1930s.” – John Cohen

“The words and music in these songs reveal human stories that anyone can relate to.”
–The Dust Busters’ Eli Smith

Listen to a sneak preview of ’The Old Man Below’: http://goo.gl/6rnTu

Watch a performance of “Two Soldiers” live from the Jalopy Theatre in Brooklyn, NY:

Read more “John Cohen (The New Lost City Ramblers) joins the Dust Busters on ‘Old Man Below’ – New CD Release by Smithsonian”

singer / songwriter

Roots of Woody Guthrie: Celebrating Woody at 100 –…

Roots of Woody Guthrie: Celebrating Woody at 100

July 14th, 2012 will mark the 100th birthday of the great songwriter, author and artist Woody Guthrie.  On today’s show we’ll honor Guthrie by playing a number of his songs and taking a look at some of the sources for the melodies he used and influences on the style in which he played and sang.

I have just discovered the site of Down Home Radio Show and I am exploring the great resources on this site.

“Down Home Radio Is A Hardcore, Unreconstructed, Paleo-acoustic, Folk Music Program.”

One of the recent shows was a podcast dedicated to Woody Guthrie whose 100th birthday was on July 14th 2012.

In this show you can hear 12 songs by Woody Guthry, each followed by an earlier version of a song that might be the original of Woodys song:

Woody Guthrie wrote very few original melodies, he took melodies of old time songs, folk and other songs and rewrote them with his own words to make them his own and into the songs we know today.

This is a very interesting show, for everybody who is interested in Woody Guthrie. You can listen to the show or download the podcast at:

Podcast Down Home Radio: Roots of Woody Guthrie: Celebrating Woody at 100

Woody Guthrie – 1945

Woody Guthrie Live 1944

This rare segment of BBC Radio’s Children’s Hour features a brief interview with folk singer Woody Guthrie. He recorded “The Wabash Cannonball” and “900 Miles” for this broadcast.

Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie 1940

There is another show dedicated to Woody Guthrie at Down Home Radio Show:

This week Henrietta and Eli discuss outlaw ballads and how criminals are transformed into popular heroes. In conjunction with that and of extra special interest, they rebroadcast a show Henrietta produced for WNYC radio back in 1940. It is Leadbelly’s show and he has as his guest, Woody Guthrie. This program has not been heard since it was first broadcast 67 years ago! Down Home would like to thank WNYC and archivist Andy Lanset for providing us with this rare material.

An interesting video is the following video about the making of the movie Woody Guthrie at 100:

The Making of Woody at 100: The Woody Guthrie Centennial Collection from Smithsonian Folkways

Down Home Radio Show: http://www.downhomeradioshow.com/


Smithsonian Folkways – Folklife Festival – Bluegrass and more

Recently I have been listening to some resources from the Smithsonian websites, especially the radio programs.

Founded in 1846, the Smithsonian is the world’s largest museum and research complex, consisting of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park and nine research facilities.

A set of radio programs with many interesting recordings is available at:


This includes a Bluegrass radio witha set of recordings of some of the important bands:

The Folkways collection contains some of the most influential early American bluegrass recordings and features such giants as Red Allen and Frank Wakefield, Bill Monroe, Doc Watson, the Stanley Brothers, and The Country Gentlemen. Listen here to these influential artists and experience this dynamic American roots tradition.

In the Smithsonian Folkways youtube channel you can also find some bluegrass recordings like this:

If you are a teacher you can also make use of the freelesson plans and other resources for teaching, like the following

Bluegrass Music: A Toe-Tapping Exploration of an American Art Form
Grades: 3-5
Students will be introduced to American Bluegrass music and Appalachian songs through singing, listening and conversation. A number of songs will be compared leading to a conversation the characteristics of Traditional American music.

I did also listen to the Festival Radio that  is available on the Smithsonian Festival site: http://www.festival.si.edu/ which also includes some great bluegrass performances from the Smithsonian Folklife Festivals.

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival was first held Juli 1 – 4, 1967 and has been a big success. Since then the festival took place every year. It is a festival of all folk arts including music and dance, craftsmen like carvers, blacksmiths, potters or quilters, and folk artists of all kinds.

You can find scans of the interesting programs of the festivals since 1967 on the archive.org website:


This is an excerpt from the program of the first festival:

July 1-4, 1967 

America's grass roots culture provides abundant material 
for the four-day Festival of American Folklife presented by 
the Smithsonian Institution on the National Mall over the 
July 4th weekend. More than doubling previous peak attendance 
at the Smithsonian for this holiday weekend, the first program 
in July, 1967 attracted 431,000 spectators, according to 
National Park Service figures. The exceptional public response 
to this first event has lead the Smithsonian to establish the 
Festival as an annual Independence Day tribute to our folk 

Fifty-eight traditional craftsmen and thirty-two 
musical and dance groups from throughout the United States 
demonstrated and performed at the first open-air event. 
Mountain banjo-pickers and ballad singers, Chinese lion 
fighters, Indian sand painters, basket and rug weavers, New 
Orleans jazz bands and a Bohemian hammer-dulcimer band from 
east Texas combined with the host of participants from many 
rural and urban areas of our country to weave the colorful fabric 
of American traditional culture.

This is the playlist of the most popular youtube videos of the Smithsonian Folkways youtube channel:

Most Viewed Smithsonian Folkways Videos

Additional Information

Smithsonian main website: http://www.si.edu/

Smithsonian Folkways Website: http://folkways.si.edu/

Website Smithsonian Festival: http://www.festival.si.edu/