"Remember El Alma" First On-site Performance Challenging the Alamo, March 2010

"Remember El Alma," First on-site performance
challenging the Alamo
original poem written by Barbara Renaud Gonzalez

Adapted by Virginia Grise; Produced by Bihl Haus Arts, Kellen McIntyre, Ph.D; Performed at Luminaria!
San Antonio, Hemisfair Plaza, San Antonio, Texas, March 13, 2010; 5 Actresses, 1 Musician
A cast of beautiful women, all ages and colors, from
all over San Antonio
; Foto Credit: Joan Frederick @2010

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Eva Ybarra, Queen of the Accordion, tells her story


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

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

No candy, no flowers, just love the world like Luti does

Last Friday, my girlfriend Luti Gude treated me to dinner and we talked about politics, cats, and always, her children. Luti Vela Gude comes from a prominent, progressive, South Texas family, puros Tejanos (and don't forget it!) with ties all the way to the (current) White House. Even in that family known for their enlightened views and activism, Luti shines because she ran in the Boston Marathon in her forties. She's currently a graduate student at UTSA in Counseling, and from all accounts, teaching them more about the community than the faculty can ever teach her. Luti was also determined to raise her children to care about the world -- and it's working. Her oldest son, David, a spectacular student, attended Brackenridge High School and other public schools in the inner city, becoming a humanitarian, dedicated to giving something back to the world as a physician and researcher.

David's life has not been without suffering, believe me. But last year he got married to a Hindu woman who is equally gifted, and who Luti has embraced as her new daughter.

At our dinner, Luti and I talked about love (what else is there?) and I bragged about attending the wedding-of-the-decade last April between John Phillip Santos and Frances Trevino -- and then Luti told me about the mesmerizing wedding of her son, David, to Nisha. There was David on a horse, and there were candles, fire, Luti dancing better than any Bollywood queen, and echa el grito, the mariachis!

On this Valentine's Day, I celebrate Luti and all the mothers who love their children enough to teach them to love others without measure and to fly far away from home!

The world is waiting for us to love like this.