Día de la Música 2013

Day of the Music is among our favorite annual events here in Mazatlán. The city sets up stages at various locations downtown, all within a few blocks of each other. The twenty performers rotate on the hour most of the night, beginning at 7:00 pm, and each stage has a theme. There is also always a visual and street arts corner, which was in a new location this year but just as much fun. In 2011 we made our first video about Day of the Music, and below is a video of this year. I hope you’ll enjoy it! Please let me know what you think.


Saturday was a gorgeous evening, as usual. Starting in daylight and quickly moving into and past sunset, the moon hung hugely over this year’s festivities. Weather was warm and comfy with a wonderful ocean breeze. There was a huge variety of music, and we met at least 30 friends as we walked and danced around. It’s such a joy to be able to see people from all walks of life, coming out with their families to enjoy this community event each year. Mouse over any photo to view the caption, click on it to enlarge or view a slideshow.

This year the themes and performers on the five stages were:

Escenario Machado (in the Plazuela)

  • Guillermo Sarabia Chorus
  • B. Smith’s Hot Jazz (Dixieland, from Culiacán)
  • Camerata Mazatlán and the Folkloric Ballet
  • Ikloo (60s classic rock)
  • Continentalísimo Mariachi Show

Escenario Fusión (Calle Venus between Sixto Osuna and Constitución)

  • Jazz Plasma
  • Honest Jon and the Truth
  • Daniel San Project
  • Lori Davidson and Rob Lamonica

Banda y Tropical (on the malecón at the end of Calle Constitución)

  • Percussion Ensemble
  • Banda La Mazatleca (played for two hours; we are the birthplace of banda, after all!)
  • La Falsa Orquesta Cubana (my personal favorite)

Escenario del Recuerdo (in front of the Art Museum)

  • Trova Cardio
  • Malamecha, Boleros and Cantantes (Municipal School of the Arts group)
  • Grupo con Cuerdas (strings playing popular music)
  • Angela Peralta Chorus (non-professional community chorus)

Rock y Tendencias (Calle Niños Heroes and Constitución)

  • Haiku (from Escuinapa)
  • Los Insane
  • Lady Munster (from Los Mochis)
  • The Oaths

LIVE VISUAL ART: A La Vuelta de Venus

  • Dhear
  • Beo Hake (from Monterrey)
  • Yurex Omazkin (from Mexico City)
  • Watchavato (from Culiacán)
  • Smithe (from Mexico City)
  • Bacse
  • Tony Delfino
  • Buque
  • Wank
  • AskoAbsurdo
  • Cusehr

Thank you, Mazatlán and CULTURA! This is a terrific event, so very pleasurable, a true gift for all Mazatlecos and those who are visiting!

A couple of things we noticed this year, that might make a difference going forward. The first is to ensure that the stages themselves don’t block the walking access between venues. If they must, please put up signage that directs people to the correct walking route. Many elderly attend this event, and to see them having to retrace their steps or go around, some in wheel chairs and scooters, was sad. Secondly, this year it seemed the theme of a couple of the stages changed more than in years past. Perhaps this was purposeful, to help ensure that people would move around? If so it definitely accomplished that purpose, creating more movement than is customary, as people who love classical would hightail it out of the vicinity as jazz came on, or people who love popular music became disappointed as a chorus took the stage. A bit more consistency of style on each stage seems to us to make for a cozier and more enjoyable evening. But, these are both incredibly minor, considering the overall quality and pleasure of this terrific event.

Why Do We Love Mexico?

DFThe Huffington Post ran a piece a couple of days ago that captured a lot of important information into fewer than a dozen beautiful slides. Covering everything from food and diversity to economics and questions of violence, the slide show helps the viewer get beyond stereotypes to a glimpse of the real Mexico that many of us know and love.

Here is there list, or click here to view their slide show.

  1. Mexico buys more US American products than any country other than Canada. Some 6 million U.S. jobs depend on trade with Mexico,according to the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute.
  2. Despite the common conception in the United States that Mexico is a poor country, Mexico’s economy is growing faster than its northern neighbor’s — 3.9 percent compared to 1.7 percent in 2011, according to the UK Independent.
  3. Mexico has more professional elections than the United States. According to Robert A. Pastor, a professor and co-director of the Center for Democracy and Election Management at American University who has observed Mexican elections since 1986, the Mexican system is more professional, non-partisan and independent than the US American one.
  4. Mexico gave the world chocolate, along with corn, avocados, chili peppers, tequila and many other awesome foods.
  5. Mexico has amazing cultural diversity. While Mexico may be the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world, that’s not the only language spoken in the country. More than 60 indigenous languages are spoken in Mexico.
  6. Mexico is the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world, with a population of 112 million Spanish speakers.
  7. Mexico City is massive. With around 20.5 million inhabitants, it sits among the world’s largest cities. And it’s massiveness has a long history — when the Spanish arrived in the sixteenth century in Tenochtitlán, the heart of the Aztec empire where Mexico City currently stands, it may have been the largest urban area in the world.
  8. Mexico has awesome beaches, ancient ruins, mountains, and incredible food.
  9. Mexico is not as violent as you may think. Mexico had a murder rate of 23.7 per 100,000 residents in 2011, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime. That’s about equal to Brazil’s and roughly half as high as Detroit. Mexico’s murder rate isn’t particularly high by Latin American standards. Plenty of places in the region have higher murder rates — including Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and Jamaica.
  10. Mexico has a thriving film industry. Many people are already familiar with crossover successes like Gael García Bernal, Salma Hayek and director Guillermo del Toro. But those stars account for just a small fraction of a booming industry.
  11. Mexico is home to some of the oldest civilizations of the Americas. Mexico’s first major civilization, the Olmecs,established themselves by around 1200 BC.

Ferrusquilla: "That statue of a composer…"

Mazatlán is privileged to have a strong and vibrant expatriate community, many of whom volunteer long hours to help make our city a better place in which to live. Many in the foreign resident community have of course grown up and lived most of our lives elsewhere. We love our adopted home, but we often lack basic “cultural literacy” about our adopted homeland. I put myself in that category, of course. Every day, many times a day, I learn something new. It’s part of why I love living here.

Last week, I noticed the below comment on one of the local expat discussion groups:

“It is located across the Malecon between two statues: the Deer, Mazatlan’s symbol; and a Sinaloa composer holding his guitar and sombrero.”

The note surprised me, because I figured everyone who lives here knows our beloved Ferrusquilla! But, of course, we don’t “all” know anything; we all have different pieces of information. I see Don Ferrusquilla once in a while, dining around town or taking a walk, and I loved his INCREDIBLE acceptance speech at the Premios Oye! last month (drag the play bar to 6:46 to skip the homage and hear the original poem he wrote just for the occasion, full of love for our fair city).

But, of course, we all hold differing pieces of knowledge, so I thought I’d share a bit of what I know about this “Sinaloa composer holding his guitar and sombrero” in the statue. Maestro José Angel Espinoza Aragón, “Ferrusquilla,” is a national cultural icon, famous throughout all of Latin America and Spain, and one of the greatest orgullos of Mazatlán. The United Nations awarded him the the Medal of Peace in 1976, the University of Sinaloa presented him with an honorary doctorate just a few years ago, in 2008, and he’s received many other distinguished awards during his career.

His “master work” is the composition “Echame a mí la culpa,” sung by most every well-known Spanish-language singer (here it’s sung by Amalia Mendoza, “La Tariacuri;” or this one sung by Javier Solís). The song inspired a Spanish movie of the same name, and decades later (in 1980) was still so popular that it won “song of the year” in Spain, as sung by Englishman Albert Hammond. Ferrusquilla has acted in 80 motion pictures alongside actors that expats will recognize such as John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Dean Martin, Boris Karloff, Richard Burton, Anthony Quinn, Brigitte Bardot, and Robert Mitchum, and has composed, to the best of my research, 97 songs.

José Angel Espinoza Aragón was born in Choix, Sinaloa on October 2, 1919. After his mother died his father moved the family to El Guayabo and then Los Mochis, where his father remarried. In 1935, after finishing junior high, his family sent José to study in Mazatlán. In 1937 he got on a train headed to Mexico City, to study medicine, but life didn’t quite work out according to plan.

According to one interview, in 1938 the young José was working a side-job at a radio station, one that broadcasted the popular late-afternoon children’s show “Fifirafas el Valoroso.” The role of “Captain Ferrusquilla” on the show was originally played by the head technician, Carlos Contel, brother of the station manager. After Carlos’ brother told him to choose whether to be a voice actor or a technician, the show was left without a Ferrusquilla. José had the good fortune to be present in the studio when the director, panicked, asked around for a male who could read the part. Thus, by fate, the “man of a thousand voices” with the nickname “Ferrusquilla” was born.

Ferrusquilla fell in love with the female lead of the radio show, Blanca Estela (María Blanca Estela Pavón Vasconcelos). According to this same interview, the two lived in New York for a year, dubbing the voices of actors such as Ingrid Bergman, Elizabeth Taylor, and Mickey Rooney. Blanca died tragically in a plane accident in 1949. After her death Ferrusquilla decided to commit himself to music, and composed his first song in 1951.

Ferrusquilla married and had two daughters with Sonya Stransky Echeverría in the 1950s (the marriage lasted five years). He tragically lost another loved one, his daughter Vindia, in a car accident in Mexico City in 2008. His daughter Angélica is a successful actress. He has said that his daughters have been the joy of his life.

By the way, the statue of Ferrusquilla, on the malecón in Olas Altas, made by artist Carlos Espino, was unveiled in time for Ferrusquilla’s birthday, in October of 2007.

Fellow foreign residents of Mazatlán: let’s all, proudly, be sure to call this landmark the “statue of Ferrusquilla”!!!! And, Mazatlecos and fans of Ferrusquilla: please teach all of us more about this incredible gentleman, sharing your life memories of the legacy he’s given us!

Note/Update: Jackie Peterson wrote an article on Ferrusquilla in the Pacific Pearl last year. Somehow I missed seeing it, but you can check it out here. And one of my friends has given me the Maestro’s number and asked me to give Ferrusquilla a call, to let him know about this post, so I will do that as well.

Update #2, March 5th: I met Maestro Ferrusquilla tonight. What a great man! He told me that in his younger years, he played for a year with Banda El Recodo, in the Cruz Lizarraga days, before he went to Mexico City and did the radio show. Cool trivia! He is a really nice and VERY interesting man and his English is GREAT! It felt very good to finally get up the courage to talk to him, and to have the honor of finally meeting him.