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Mexican-born musician playing tunes at Zocalo
Regarding the arts, the saying is often shown to be true that wisdom comes with years of experience.
"But in many cases that I see," says Mexican-born musician Oscar Robles Diaz, "the youth who dedicate themselves to music today are doing so against great odds and with a pure drive and energy that illuminates every concert, every song.
"There is an ageless wisdom in that and the simple statement it makes: Music has value. Music is worth fighting for and should never be lost."
Not long ago, Son Jarocho, a very important traditional form of music that developed in the Veracruz region of Mexico almost went extinct. No steps were being taken to preserve it in its traditional form or declare its cultural significance.
It had come to the point that the elders who lived the tradition — handcrafting traditional instruments and playing them, accompanied by singing and dance — all appeared to be dying off.
The tradition was not being passed on as it long had been, through families to their next generations, because mainstream commercially produced music had taken over and become the focus of those generations.
Then, a young man, Gilberto Gutierrez, "discovered" Son Jarocho and went about searching out the remaining original 'Jarocheros' to learn from them and join forces with them in an effort to make sure this very special music did not get forgotten about and lost forever.
Since then, it has been primarily a youth movement that has brought Son Jarocho to widespread recognition and growing popularity throughout the Republic of Mexico and beyond.
Drawing from Mexico's Son Jarocho tradition, as well as the traditions of several other regions in Latin America, Robles is a Comox Valley resident who has toured internationally.
He brings a not-to-be-missed repertoire to Courtenay's Zocalo Café this Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m. From Cuban Son, Trova and Guajira to Puerto Rican Jibaro and the folkloric sounds of Venezuela, as well as various other regions, expect a whirlwind tour to these distinctively rhythmic and warm musical climates.
Performing as a solo artist, Robles will also present his original compositions that reflect a background of music studies in classical and contemporary styles at Mexico City's national university, the UNAM.
He will sing and accompanying himself on nylon-string guitar, as well as, at times, the Requinto Jarocho – a traditional, handcrafted Mexican instrument. He is excited to share with the community his love for music that, he says, was passed on to him at an early age by his mother, father, and grandparents.
Music is from 7 to 9 p.m. and is by "pass-the-hat" donation with all proceeds going to the musician.
For more information, contact the Zocalo Café at 250-331-0933, or visit www.zocalocafe.ca.
— Oscar Robles Diaz