The Southern California band Quetzal recently celebrated its 20th anniversary with a blowout concert that seemed to attract as many musicians as regular people. The band has maintained such a strong presence in the SoCal Chicano music scene that its members could be considered padrinos and padrinas of that free-flowing musical community.
Quetzal is respected and admired as much for its commitment to social justice, activism and education — lead singer Martha Gonzalez has a Ph.D — as for its folk-infused music, which gets a marvelous showcase in this Tiny Desk Concert. While the instrumentation is stripped down, the sound is full; the music penetrates the intellect even as it makes your hips sway.
The group runs a tight ship musically: Gonzalez's voice could be heard well past the confines of the Tiny Desk, all the way to our web-designing neighbors; guitarist Quetzal Flores unplugged and worked the Mexican jarana for both rhythm and melody, often at the same time; violinist Rocio Marron wove blues licks into Mexican folk runs; bassist Juan Perez provided a nimble and melodic bottom end.
Add it all up and you get a glimpse into a musical vision that inspires as much as it entertains. If you didn't know Quetzal before this video, now's the time to catch up. If you're a fan like me, you've already got a head start on looking forward to the next 20 years.
- "Palomo Vagabundo"
- "Todo Lo Que Tengo"
Producers: Felix Contreras, Denise DeBelius; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Denise DeBelius, Colin Marshall; Production Assistant: Sarah Tilotta; photo by Sarah Tilotta/NPR