“Pueblito En Mi Comunidad”

One of 10 songs commissioned for Sounds of California: Boyle Heights.

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Cesar is from Veracruz, Mexico, home of the son jarocho genre and fandango tradition that he practices, teaches and shares today. He continues to teach son jarocho in local high schools, community centers, Universities and in California state Prisons.

Cesar discovered the music at the age of thirteen, through hearing traditional harpist Andrés Alfonso play in his school. He eventually connected with Alfonso and other musicians who strived to uplift and revitalize the tradition’s deepest roots. A professionalized version of the music had been popular since the 1930s, but in the process of commercialization, much of it's original elements had been stripped —in particular the fandango music and dance party that was the high point of community-based son jarocho practice. Starting in the early 1990s, Castro learned, performed, and traveled with other son jarocho musicians in the most rural areas of the region. By the early 2000s, Castro relocated to East Los Angeles to contribute to a number of musical projects, including Quetzal and his own group, Cambalache where he could share and broaden the sense of what son jarocho is and can be.

“Pueblito En Mi Comunidad” is one of 10 songs commissioned for Sounds of California: Boyle Heights. Sounds of California: Boyle Heights is a project of the Alliance for California Traditional Arts in collaboration with the Community Power Collective, the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, Radio Bilingüe and local residents to record, compose, present, and archive the local soundscape, focusing on themes of anti-displacement and belonging.

Rola del Día and the The Sounds of California: Boyle Heights project are supported by the California Arts Council and California Humanities.

ACTA · Sounds of CA - Boyle Heights
With this composition I communicate, in a fairly summarized way, the history of the soil on which Boyle Heights stands, a fertile, privileged land, seized, through the centuries. At the same time, I emphasize that no matter how much we find ourselves between buildings, concrete, asphalt, deep down we are a small town within a big city.