"Music of the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands: Performance & Talk"
Watch clips from the event.
Dr. Loco knows how to rock the room. As founder of several Latino rock bands, including Dr. Loco's Rockin' Jalapeno Band, he's been entertaining crowds on the west coast since 1984.
Dr. Loco is the alter ego of Jose Cuellar, Ph.D., Professor emeritus of Latina/Latino Studies (formerly La Raza Studies) in the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University. Cuellar will combine his experience as a Mexican-American anthropologist, musician, and educator to bring the music of his native U.S.-Mexico borderlands to Harvard's Tsai Auditorium at 1730 Cambridge St. (in Cambridge) on Thursday March 29 at 6 P.M. A reception will follow. The event is co-sponsored by the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard.
"I'll play indigenous flutes, American flute, sax, clarinet, and accordion," says Cuellar, adding, "and maybe keyboard and guitar and mandolin." Cuellar has a particular talent for sharing his love of Mexican-American borderland music and culture.
"It will be a multimedia presentation. You'll get a musical tour all along the U.S.-Mexico border area," he said. "People, musical genres, and styles all come to this borderland; the music gets transformed and blended, incorporating influences from indigenous groups, European and African roots, in a way that is unique to this area. It's multi-ethnic in every sense of the word."
The music features many songs of the diaspora. "Subjects like longing, home, and returning home—songs that weren't written on the border, but came to the border" are popular, according to Cuellar. Other themes include violence, as documented in corridos (narrative ballads), and working-class issues such as strikes, workers' rights, and relationships with governments and unions.
Expect some humor and audience participation as well. "I want to create an ambiance like we're in a living room where people can play and talk."
Dr. Cuellar is the Peabody Museum's 2012 Hrdy Fellow and an affiliate of the David Rockefeller Center of Latin American Studies. As the Hrdy Fellow, he is in residence at Harvard for spring 2012, researching and recording Native American instruments in the Peabody Museum collection.