What can I say about last night’s Lila Downs concert at the Guelaguetza Auditorium? It was one of those clear, mild and star-filled Oaxaca evenings. The glowing auditorium beckoned and encouraged us as we made the steep walk up the street and then stairs to the hillside site, that overlooks the city.
In true, “hey, it’s Mexico” style, we were unsure of the time… The posters, billboards, and concert’s Facebook page said, 8 PM. However, our tickets (purchased from TicketMaster… ugh!) said 7 PM. Needless to say, we were in line by 6:45. Our, off to the side, front row seats left much to be desired, but once the Afro-Caribbean rhythms of Columbiana, Totó la Momposina and her way hot band began, it didn’t matter.
Although, she initially confused Xalapa with Oaxaca (with the expected laughter and a few catcalls), Totó la Momposina won the crowd over and all were well warmed up for Oaxaca’s favorite daughter. Lila opened with an offering of mezcal and track number one, “Mezcalito,” from her new CD, Pecados y Milagros (Sins and Miracles).
Totó la Momposina joined her on stage, as on the CD, to sing “Zapata Se Queda,” a tribute to the spirit of Mexican revolutionary hero, Emiliano Zapata. Other songs followed, a rebozo (shawl) was added, and the lighting changed…
Lila then donned a beautiful serape from one of the master weavers of Teotitlán del Valle to sing, “Fallaste corazón.”
She dedicated, “Palomo’s Comalito,” to all the women who make tortillas in Mexico. A knowing smile crossed our faces. On Wednesday, we had been invited to the home of Emilia and Zacarias Ruiz in Teotitlán del Valle, where we honored the souls of their departed, by savoring Emilia’s delicate tamales and silky smooth and complex mole AND where we were informed by son, Antonio, that Emilia is featured in the music video for “El Palomo del Comalito.” (She’s the woman making tortillas.)
This was my first time seeing Lila Downs live. I’d listened to last year’s free concert, at the Plaza de la Danza, from my terrace, but it doesn’t compare with seeing her in person…
I think this was the costume change for her beautiful and haunting rendition of “La Llorona.” I can’t resist also showing the back of this traditional Isthmus of Tehuantepec headdress, known as a “bidaani quichi.”
A sublime and spectacular evening to close a sublime and magical week… ¡Muchisimas gracias, Oaxaca!
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