She calls them viboras, the men who deny her stature as one of the world's best accordionists. She lives here, in San Antonio, and she doesn't have a car and is worried about her taxes. Eva has played in New York City, and yet no one in San Antonio seems to want to pay her what she deserves. Enough to live on.
The other day Eva played me a new composition, it's called Eco de Mujer. The song is haunted, a polka-tango-blues of a woman's pain and loneliness, betrayal and it sounds exactly like when my mother used to cry at the clothesline under the hot Texas sky. Like she was on fire and there was nowhere for her to go -- except to hang up more of my father's workshirts.
My mother listened to Lydia Mendoza. I listen to Eva Ybarra.
On Thursday evening, I finally get to read from my novel, with her accordion accompanying me. Though it is really Eva, her music, and that voice of hers that I wish I could put down on paper: That voice made of hard,
dusty, gravelly, roads walked alone, head held high, fearless, holding a child's hand in one and a mother's in another, wishing that he loved her as much as she loves him, but not willing to go back for the scraps he is offering. No.
Who do you love, Eva? I ask her.
My music, she says. I am in love with my music.
The performance is on Thursday, February 26th, at UTSA/Downtown, Buena Vista Theatre, across from Pico De Gallo restaurant, at 6:55 pm. It's called Noche de Cultura, thanks to NACCS/Tejas Foco, which includes many other great artists. Free and open to the public.
And Gracias to the Office of Cultural Affairs of San Antonio, Texas, for their financial support of this performance.
Stage Design by David Zamora Casas
Production Chief, Mary Jessie Garza
photo credit: www.pbs.org