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Be the Mule Blog

Los Cardencheros de Sapioriz in Mexico City

A couple months ago I took a cheap flight from Mexico City to Torreon in the Mexican state of Coahuila in hopes of connecting with 4 men I'd heard sing on a field recording Aaron Cruz turned me on to. The men sang the "Canto Cardenche", a 19th century traditional song, once sung by Mexican field workers in the Hacienda days. The work back then was slave labor, and the people of the ranches would create songs to pass the time, tell stories of their experiences, give advice to their kids, or call out for love.

The Canto Cardenche is near extinction, though has recently been revived by some young artists in Mexico City. The only performing group of the song in its traditional form are the Cardencheros de Sapioriz, the three men I went looking for in Mexico's north. Thanks to the internet, I connected with some people in the local government that help the men out in sharing their tradition, took a bus into the country, and got to meet the Cardencheros in their humble ranch town of Sapioriz, Durango.

I heard them sing in person and its all love. Its the feeling I always imagined I might have if I saw Big Mama Thornton singing on her porch, or visited the Mississippi Delta before its legendary artists had been discovered and recorded. Music for music, no pretension. Communicating and getting to feel together. Its simple and forgotten, that way of sharing.

I spoke with the men for a bit before and after their concert in Sapioriz - on the porch of one of the men's nephews - and asked how we could help out by way of this Music Mission program we started a few months back ( Fidel, the most outspoken of the group, though still quite reserved, said concerts and recordings, ways to share their tradition and song so it isn't lost.

We put together a few concerts fairly paid in Mexico City and got the men's plane tickets and hotel, meals covered, and a day to record in a real studio. 

To see all that happened, check out where I'll put up a short documentary of our work together and the recording.

But here's a little outtake from the concert we put together at Aaron's house. The power went out in the middle of the show.

These men sing beautiful music because they are beautiful people. The three men are wise, sharp in wit, and calm. It was very much an honor to get to be around them and I hope we were able to do some good in sharing their story as they had asked.


And for an idea



CARDENCHE SONG from Todd Clouser on Vimeo.

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