This Connection Was Meant To Be

This Connection Was Meant To Be

May 18, 2014  |  Cajun Zydeco, Local Interest

The Zydeco Mexican Connection, a joint project between the Los Cenzontles Cultural Arts Academy and Zydeco virtuoso Andre Thierry, is about culture, community . . . and coincidence. It’s a connection that was meant to happen.

Here’s what I mean:

The musical group Los Cenzontles collaborated with David Hidalgo of Los Lobos to record “Mathilda”, a 1959 hit written by Hugh Thierry. When they eventually met Andre Thierry, he told them that Hugh was his great-uncle.

Once the musicians got together, they discovered that Andre and Los Cenzontles singer Lucina Rodriguez went to the same Richmond middle school at the same time.

The two styles of music share undeniable roots. Creole and Mexican music have similar instrumentation and complementary rhythms, so that when they come together they blend easily. The Zydeco Mexican Connection is a celebration that respects each tradition, while creating something exciting and new.

And both musical genres are part of larger cultural traditions that value family, neighborhood, and history. Andre Thierry is dedicated to carrying on the Creole way of life that his mother and grandmother brought with them from Louisiana. And for the past twenty-five years, under the leadership of Executive Director Eugene Rodriguez, the Los Cenzontles Cultural Arts Center in Richmond has worked to connect young people to art and their cultural roots.

So for years, Andre Thierry and Los Cenzontles have been doing similar work separately. Now they have joined forces, and the result had the crowd on their feet at Friday’s concert at Berkeley’s Freight and Salvage. It proved to me once again that something that is important can also be so much fun. Music — especially when performed by talent of this caliber — has a little bit of magic in it.

And The Zydeco Mexican Connection is about much more than putting on a great show. I invite to you click here to learn about an ambitious and innovative project that aims to shine a light on human stories of Richmond that are positive and proud, rich and true — and too often overlooked in favor of more sensational news. You might even be inspired to help.

Meanwhile, I hope these images give you a sense of what a rockin’ good time we had at the Freight on Friday.

Click on an image to enlarge it, and then scroll through the gallery.

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