Wednesday, December 08, 2021

i guess that's why they call it the blues

They are not Elton John.

The Mexican musicians who provide the soundtrack for days at the beach.

And that is a good thing. Though they do delve into the unfortunate pop music genre now and then (after all, the crowd that knows what it likes and likes what it knows often need a nostalgic nudge to loosen up wallets), the local street musicians in Melaque and Barra primarily stick to a more traditional playlist. A Mexican traditional playlist.

I am no expert on traditional Mexican music. On a good day I can tell the difference between norteño and ranchera. And I will often even get that wrong.

The street musicians appear to do the best business on the sand. Making them beach, instead of street, musicians, I suppose. Either solo or in a group, they will approach a table of tourists on the beach and settle on a price. The musicians will then launch into the equivalent of a sandy Altamont (without the annoying presence of the Hells Angels).

To me, each tune is new. It is quite obvious that is not the case with the Mexican tourists that are being serenaded.

They raise their voices with the same spirit of Boy Scout campfire singing. Boisterous. Loud. In multiple keys.

But always joyous. If there is a better time to be had than burning a marshmallow over a fire in the Oregon high desert, it is singing a song on the beach about how your grandfather died fighting at the side of Pancho Villa during the Revolution.

And the guy in the photograph? He is part of a five or six-man band that regularly performs on the beach in Melaque. I saw him walking down the street with his bass the other day. My paparazzi spirit kicked in as I stalked him for several blocks. The incongruity was enticing. And I gave in.

He was commuting to work to share a bit of Mexican musical tradition with the beach trade.

To evoke a few bittersweet tears with lyrics that would find easy company with those of Muddy Waters.

Sharing the blues.

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