Once in a great while you chance upon something, or someone, that is a complete unknown to you, you wind up being knocked back on your forked end in complete surprise, you sit up scratching and wondering what just bowled you over, but you love it. You find irresistible drawing to everything about it because it is so refreshing, surprising and provides you with so much energy that it just takes you to places you have never been. That is precisely the affect that Tortilla Western Serenade seems to inspire in many people who give it a good listen. This is an album that owes a debt to Doug Sahm and his myriad groups including The Texas Tornados and their blending of music that includeds all music from Texas; from blues to rock to Tex-Mex to Conjunto and so on, that included the legendary Flaco Jimenez who also appears on this disc. This is music drawn from the desert with its tumbleweeds, dust devils, open spaces, chilies, sparse landscapes, Spanish missions, and the lonely winds blowing through. The lands and landscapes stretching from San Antonio, Texas across the state to Austin, thru the vast stretching openness of west Texas, thru New Mexico and over the Rocky Mountains and down into the Sonora Desert and on into Tucson, Arizona.
Tara Linda, a former punk drummer, now accordion player, has gone back to the roots of the music of the Southwest, where she was born and brought up and came of age. The story of her going from drums to accordion is not for now, however, suffice it to say, her emphasis on torch singing got her closer to the emotion of the accordion. Recognizing this, Hohner Accordions arranged for Flaco Jimenez and Max Baca to play on her album. Having written Haupangos, Boleros, and Rancheras for this album Tara was happy to connect to Flaco and Max's rich traditional pasts in Conjunto, Texas rock and beyond, recalling their histories with The Rolling Stones, Ry Cooder, and the Texas Tornados. This Southwestern tradition of seamlessly blending music is that Tara has delivered on this disc. It is music of the border with Mexico (though it is all in English) filtered through the punk sensibilities and an inquiring mind that isn't afraid to make some unlikely leaps into unknown areas, gypsy jazz, combined with the soul of Flaco's playing and the manic energy of Tara and her band mates. She has a breathy, sensual, and earthy singing voice that she uses to good advantage on the songs. She wrote, or co-wrote all of the songs here; they are vignettes of life and times in the desert area, including a very haunting and beautiful, Padre Kino's Ghost. The producers of this disc deserve special mention on drawing these strong musical personalities together and getting these shinning performances; Max Baca, Craig Schumacher, and Tara Linda, hats off. This is a disc that is a thoughtful musical vacation and sightseeing trip without having to go through the trials that are synonymous with air travel in the United States.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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