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Longwood is eagerly anticipating our first Members-Only concert of the 2011-2012 Performance Season with David Wax Museum. Fronted by David Wax and Suz Slezak, this band has grown from playing in basements and living rooms to playing packed clubs and theatres with artists such as The Avett Brothers and the Old 97’s. Recently named as Boston’s Americana Artist of the Year in 2010 and as one of NPR’s best albums of 2011, the band’s Mexo-Americana sounds will electrify the Longwood Exhibition Hall on October 7 at 8 p.m.
Read on as David Wax discusses the band’s recent success, unique instruments, and Mexican influences.
Q: How did the band form?
A: Suz and I met in Boston through a mutual friend. I had recently returned from a year-long fellowship in Mexico and was looking to get a band started. Suz actually attended the first show I played in Cambridge, which was a house concert in my own home. That was the only place I could get a gig, besides open mics. Honestly, Suz wasn't very impressed with the show or the songs, but then we got together to sing and loved the way our voices blended. That's when we knew we wanted to start singing together.
Q: Over the past couple of years, you have gained critical acclaim and a rather large fan base. How does it feel to have reached this point?
A: We're completely thrilled to be building a community around our music. It takes that community of support to buoy us in this life of ours. We really try to keep our blinders on when it comes to critical acclaim and stay focused on delivering an unforgettable evening of music each night. We're very grateful that the positive critical reception has helped bring more people out to our shows across the country. But you can't just coast on what the critics say. You have to win people over each night with a great show.
Q: What is "son jarocho" and what inspired you to incorporate those sounds into your music?
A: "Son jarocho" is a traditional style of folk music from Southern Veracruz, Mexico. I began studying it in 2006 and slowly started incorporating it into my own songwriting while living in Mexico for the year. I was learning Mexican folk songs but didn't know the lyrics, and so I started improvising lyrics in English over the traditional songs. At the same time, I was finding that interesting things started to happen when I started writing songs on the new Mexican instruments I was learning. When we got the band together back in Boston, we found the intersection of Mexican and American folk a fruitful place to explore.
Q: Is there a certain song you know you’re going to play? Can you explain the significance of that song?
A: We'll definitely play "Chuchumbe." This is an old Mexican folk song that was banned by the Catholic Church in 1766 as part of the Spanish Inquisition. The lyrics were written down during the trial and discovered in the archive 25 years ago. New music was written for the lyrics and the song was resuscitated. I have translated some of the verses into English for our version.
Q: What is a donkey jawbone and how do you think its sound affects your music?
A: It's a traditional Mexican percussion instrument. The sound is made from the donkey's teeth rattling in their sockets and a wooden stick that is scraped across them. It definitely brings an organic and unusual sound to our music.
Q: What are you most looking forward to about the performance at Longwood?
A: It looks to us like it'll be a place where the audience is going to be serious listening audience of true music-lovers. It's an honor to play for an audience like that, and we can't wait!
Tickets for David Wax Museum are $10 for Members and $20 for Member guests. They may be purchased by visiting www.longwoodgardens.org or by calling 610.388.1000.
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Enjoy family-fun activities, an outdoor concert, and behind-the-scenes experiences.
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Get ready for an evening of oohs and ahhs, as Longwood presents spectacular Fireworks & Fountains shows guaranteed to make your summer memorable.
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Registration is now open for our 2013 Continuing Education courses!
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