Rumel Fuentes - Corridos of the Chicano Movement
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Rumel Fuentes
Corridos of the Chicano Movement
Arhoolie (www.arhoolie.com)

Perhaps more than any other single figure, Américo Paredes (1915-1999) - border native, journalist, singer, poet, novelist, scholar, winner of the Mexican government's Order of the Aguila Azteca and Order of José de Escandón, Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Humanities prize recipient, and professor of folklore and English at the University of Texas at Austin-brought the corrido (ballad) tradition of the U.S.-Mexico border region to light. The notes to Corridos of the Chicano Movement do not mention Paredes - who founded the university' Center for Mexican American Studies and trained two generations of folklorists and anthropologists - but Rumel Fuentes (1943-1986) attended UT Austin in the 1960s, almost assuredly apprenticed with Don Américo, and went on to become one of the Chicano movement's most prolific singer-songwriter-activists. Now, his work is available for the first time.

Recorded by Chris Strachwitz in Austin and Eagle Pass, Texas in 1972 and 1975, Corridos expresses Fuentes's pride of Mexican American identity, and his pointed musical reflections on farmworker and student strikes and mobilizations, and such revolutionary figures as César Chávez, Reies López Tijerina, Jorge Sánchez, and Joaquín Murrieta. The CD's closer reprises "México-Americano," with Fuentes backed by Los Pinguinhos del Norte. Song transcriptions and lyric translations are included on the CD, and musical excerpts can be found on the Arhoolie web site. Strachwitz apologizes in the notes for not releasing these recordings during Fuentes's lifetime, but given Arhoolie's independent, shoestring status, the fact that it remains the label most dedicated to documenting Mexican American music (indeed, no other competitor comes to mind), and considering the enduring cultural and historical value of this title, the delay can be more than forgiven.

Some readers will recall filmmaker Les Blank's 1976 classic, Chulas Fronteras, which the Library of Congress selected as part of the National Film Registry of cinematic productions to be preserved in perpetuity. Blank's documentary features Rumel Fuentes, Los Pinguinos del Norte, Narciso Martínez ("El Huracán del Valle," the first Tex-Mex conjunto accordionist), Santiago Jiménez, Sr., Flaco Jiménez, Lydia Mendoza, Los Alegres de Teran, and Ramiro Cavazos among others.-Michael Stone

Watch a piece from Chulas Fronteras (1976), a film directed by Les Blank:

Further reading: Américo Paredes:

CD available at Amazon.com

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"Mexico-Americano"

 

CD available from Amazon.com

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