Profiles published by date: Ken Woods – still playing around; It’s more than stilettos and a crown; Lori Davidson; Rafael Rodriquez; Conductor Gordon Campbell; Claudia Lavista; Mike Veselik; Anne Murphy; David Robb; Rubye Hinton; Delfos; Lucila Santiago
Meet Queen Lupita 1964 and Queen Lissy 1995 – one of the first mother daughter Carnaval queens
Lori – lean, lovely, live!
By Sheila Madsen
On a humid Friday morning at 11 a.m singer Lori Davidson could not get a pulmonia. Her long auburn hair is swinging in the breeze, she’s wearing tight hot pink jeans teamed with a black tank top, revealing milky white skin, dusted with freckles. A single silver heart is dangling from her neck. Her corn flower blue eyes light up when I hand her a glass of cold water and she drinks in the ocean view. This gal’s a babe. And she couldn’t get a pulmonia?
This gal hails from San Francisco. Lori began playing the guitar when she was eight years old. The classical music phase lasted two years. The rock, blues, jazz and all the alternate sounds eventually wooed her away from Bach. She was a traditional young woman by day, attending Pepperdine University, but at night, she’d take a walk on the wild side; she’d hitch hike to Santa Barbara, sing and play her guitar in the streets earning a few dollars. Lori transferred to San Francisco State University, and graduated with a degree in English literature. What does a beautiful redhead, with a killer voice do with an English lit degree? You marry bass player Ken Embrey, take day jobs and sing at night.
Lori says: “Ken Embrey’s finger prints are all over my back. He challenged me, he pushed me, he gave me confidence in my singing, he did nothing but encourage me and make me a better performer and songwriter.” Wow, not many ex wives say that about their ex husbands. Together they played with Bay Area blues favourite, Tommy Castro, and performed in hundreds of other blues gigs. Together they “drove truck” for seven years. 5,300 miles every week from Sacramento to Dallas, 24/7. Together they bought houses, and a boat, wrote songs, and shared dreams.
Ken was playing bass for the legendary blues pioneer, John Lee Hooker. His only lead female singer got sick. This was no small venue, this was LA’s Hollywood Bowl, this was the annual Playboy Jazz Festival. Ken suggested his wife, Lori, to the humble sharecropper. The master of the R&B rock said, hell yes, bring her in. No rehearsal time, Lori does her sound check. The great John Lee Hooker has a single comment, “you can kick it up.” Lori Davidson steps on revolving stage and asks, as she always does at every gig, “who’s ready for the blues?” 18,000 people screamed and applauded, that’s a high this redhead will never forget.
Four years ago Lori and Ken sailed into Mazatlan to duck a storm. To everything there is a season, and it was time for Lori and Ken to go their separate ways. Lori’s dance card is booked solid in various Mazatlan venues. She’s a band with many names: The Lori Davidson Band, Wingin It!, Lori Live at Social, or Lori and Rob at Social. By day she reads (heck she’s written a book, Cedar Creek, you can find it on Kindle) and treats her voice as an instrument. She mists, drinks tea (with honey and lime), does vocal warm ups and then practices silence. “I’d admit I love to talk, so the most difficult part is not to speak two hours before a performance!”
I ask the question that has been on the tip of my tongue for months, “what’s it like to have a Mexican boyfriend?” Lori strokes her silver heart (we know who that belongs to) and simply says, “he’s the best of the modern world, he’s the best of the old fashioned world. He’s chivalrous in all the ways I want from a man.” This gal is lovin’ her man, her simple life, and the lack of consumerism she happily ditched in the United States. Lori wishes for nothing more, she wants nothing more. Well, perhaps one tiny wish – to sing with Bonnie Raitt.
(Lori’s summer singing schedule includes: summer nights at Pedro & Lola, – Wednesday, Thursdays and Saturdays between 8:30 and 9 p.m. The “Fairly Accurate Daily Music Schedule” will keep you current. Lori returns to Social with piano man, Rob Lamonica, in October)
The Music Man from Mazatlan, Rafael Rodriquez
By Sheila Madsen
“Rafael, all you have to do is say his name and everyone knows who you are talking about…a very talented guitar player and singer, he draws people into his music, from romantic, to up-on-your feet dancing – he’s a true gentleman.” That’s an enthusiastic quote from Eileen Moore co-owner of the restaurant Topolo. Ardent fans of Rafael, Mary and Wally Glavind, have this to say: “Arriving in Mazatlan we had no idea it would be a musician that would make our stay so memorable. But sitting under the palapa listening to Rafael Rodriquez our first evening, we knew we had found something special; excellent music from a very talented guitarist and vocalist. From the first note we felt, rather than heard, the soul of Mexico.”
Rafael arrived for his interview two minutes early dressed in pressed khaki pants, and a beige shirt with a repeat pattern of bamboo shoots, socks on, shoes polished. He’s a serious, soft spoken man who only asked for a glass of tepid water; nothing too hot, nothing too cold to spoil his voice. At 49 this professional knows what he wants, he’s clearly focused on his goals. As with many musicians his journey has taken its twists and turns. There are three children, two ex wives, stints in various universities from Mazatlan, to Guadalajara, to UNAM in Mexico City and gigs with bands named Los Navegantes and Extasis. He briefly wanted to be an accountant (he’s good with numbers) but since he’s been strumming on a guitar from the age of eight, music became the food of his life and he played on.
The good with numbers bit is important; his first gigs were with Sr. Peppers, Gus Gus and Casa Club El Cid. He knew not to rely on tips, but to ask for a flat fee. And thirteen years later after he went solo, he still plays that way. Rafael does confess he counts on tips and sales of his cds. He also quickly adds that he pays into the musician union and the various branches of the tax department. This once upon a time wannabe bean counter takes care of business. Perhaps that’s why owners like Jen Woodman of Social, and the volunteers of Hospice dinner dance so enjoy hiring him. He shows up on time, every time, and puts on a really great show.
His music inspiration comes trova, Cuban trova. One trova definition is: to qualify as a trovador in Cuba you must be able to sing songs of your own composition, accompany yourself on the guitar and deal poetically with the song. Trova began around 1885 and the traditions continue today in Cuba. Rafael has composed four songs and just recorded them in Guadalajara. If you see him around town, perhaps ask him to play an original. I think it’s safe to say Rafael meets the criteria of a trova.
Born in Mazatlan, he learned English here and in his travels to universities. He has a genuine love for English music and studies the words, the nuances and meaning during the day. Currently, Adele has captured his interest and Rafael is learning some of her hits. Whenever I hear Rafael play, I want to tell people to stop talking and to listen. “Does this make you angry?” He’s matured and his response is: “At first I was very mad, I wanted to stop the music! Eventually I understood it’s part of my job. My voice is stronger, now I know I have a talent, I was born for this. I am very proud to be a musician. I enjoy every night. I imagine I am putting on a concert.” Rafael Rodriquez does not need to imagine he’s putting on a concert, he does.
(you can follow Rafael’s musical whereabouts on our “fairly accurate daily music schedule” or if you wish to hire Rafael just call his cell – 669 161 2772)
Let’s see what’s new with David Robb
To see more of David Robb’s oil paintings: contact the Luna Gallery, or e mail David directly at:
Rubye Hinton, poetry in motion
By Sheila Madsen
Rubye moved to Mazatlan in 2006 to lead a tranquil life. “I am a writer, I’m a quiet reserved person; I just wanted to write poetry, prose and commentaries.” But Rubye was ‘discovered’ at Canucks while on the job helping out Patty and Jim Neal. Jim loved Canucks and Rubye used to accompany him. On a Monday night she got up on stage and belted out a song with Rob Lamonica on the keyboard. Then it was karaoke with Mr. Ed., more gigs with Rob and George Rankins, and in the winter it’s karaoke with Robert and Diane Howes in the Golden Zone.
From Yonkers to LA, Rubye sang her way across America; solo and often with her father. She never imagined singing in Mazatlan; she was going to concentrate on poetry and her other passion, caring for the babies in the Mazatlan Girls Orphanage. “I have a degree in early childhood development, but I don’t speak Spanish. Somehow the babies respond to me; they sleep, they eat, they calm down in my arms.” Rubye has tons of hand on experience – with 12 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren, the orphanage has landed the queen of mother love, three days a week. So she’s doing it all; singing, writing, and volunteering with ‘her babies’.
Let’s listen to Rubye.
Contemporary dance lights up our stages
By Sheila Madsen
Claudia Lavista and Victor Manuel Ruiz ignited the creative torch in 1992 by forming Delfos danza contemporanea. Based in Mexico City, the dance troupe quickly became internationally famous. A smart and very sensitive person with vision in Mazatlan’s, Cultura office, Mr. Ricardo Urquijo, wooed Delfos to Mazatlan in 1998. At the same time as Delfos was receiving rave reviews, the government encouraged Lavista and Ruiz to design a four year BA program for dance, known as EPDM – Escuela Professional de Danza de Mazatlan, The Professional School of Dance of Mazatlan. This is where the torch of eternal flame gets passed between Delfos and the school. If you are chosen to be part of the EPDM family, only 22 students each year, then you also get to share in the Delfos’ massive creative injection of international proportions. Just look at what they are doing and the interesting workshops being invited here to enhance their education.
Delfos and the school collaborated for the “Let it Be”, an extravaganza at the baseball stadium- a tribute to the Beatles and Queen. I was there and was in awe of this complex, talented, joyous performance. I particularly enjoyed watching Maestro Enrique Patron de Rueda doing some serious multi-tasking. He’s a famous opera orchestra conductor and had no problem directing “Freddie Mercury”, the “Beatles Band”, the Angela Peralta and the Guillermo Sarabia Chorus, the Britania Quintet and high flying dancers. Imagine. Imagine being a dance student on that stage with 8000 people in the audience clapping and cheering. Between the fireworks, dry ice, music, the constant, yet ever changing videos and Patron’s baton, how much more exciting does it get for a twenty year old?
Even when they are off stage, the lights are on and plenty of people are home to further their dance education. Lyn Wiltshire, is a professor of dance in the Department of Theatre and Dance at The University of Texas, Austin. She recently met with the Mazatlan Institute of Culture and Arts Director, Mr. Raúl Rico, to establish an exchange program. Students from Austin and Mazatlan can now obtain academic credits while studying and gaining new cultural and artistic experiences. Laura Faure, Director of the Bates Dance Festival in the U.S., gave two conferences on contemporary dance in the U.S. and the upcoming Bates dance festival. The festival, according to Claudia Lavista, “is a fantastic space for contemporary dance, which every year turns out to be a paradise for the dancers that have the opportunity to live the experience. This festival integrates a magnificent group of choreographers, teachers, musicians, dancers, students and lovers of dance.” Students soak up these lectures like solar panels.
The light gets brighter with Shamou’s visit to the dance school. He’s a fantastic percussionist from Iran. He plays live music during his workshops providing an enriching experience for students and teachers. April brings Argentinean choreographer Leandro Kees and the Colombian dancer Marcela Ruiz for a five week workshop. They will collaborate with the Delfos dancers to create two new choreographic pieces. On July 2 you’ll see those results when Delfos and the graduating class present a Gen.X performance. However, on May 9, Leandro Kees will be presenting his own show; Antropomorfia, at the Angela Peralta Theatre. This project has many Mexican financial contributors and is bound to stretch all creative boundaries.
Last weekend I thought I was in a funky New York gallery. But no, it was our local Recrea, which had provided space to 4th year students. I really can’t describe this surprise and delight art installation. It was constructed from hundreds of cardboard boxes complete with peep holes for live dancers, videos, candle lights, and various models doing weird and wonderful things. Everything they do is leading edge, arty, fun, and professional, proving again the creative flame burns brightly throughout Mazatlan, no matter the stage. These dancers break all the rules, because are no rules, and that’s exactly what you should expect this spring in the theatre – the unexpected.
(The Delfos Dance Company and the school, EPDM, are both located right beside the Angela Peralta Theatre, in the Municipal Centre for Arts. It’s easy to spot the dancers gliding through the Plazuela Machado: look at their posture, their hair, their make-up, their clothes and the sparks of energy emitting from their long limbs.)
Born to paint – Lucila Santiago
Born in Mexico City in 1952, Lucila followed her mother to Mazatlan 20 years ago. She has been drawing as soon as she could grasp a crayon: “since I was three years old all I wanted to was draw and paint; no dolls for me.” Her father always kept her supplied with art books. There were no family discussion, no debates; Lucila was to become an artist. Her parents even built her a private art studio in their backyard so she could experiment with all forms of art, including sculpture. No tree house for this girl.
As a teenager she was inspired by Vincent van Gough, and then at 16, “I skipped school and visited the house of Frida Kahlo in Coyacan and Diego Rivera.” Besides these great artists I asked who else inspired her: “all my teachers; I studied visual arts, which includes video, installation, multi media photography, copper and enamel, I loved it all.” Just look at her mystical, fuzzy impressionistic paintings and you can see her influences. In a follow up e-mail: “you asked about my favourite painters and I told you about a German group back in the 80’s called Jóvenes Salvajes, among them, my favourite is Anselm Kiefer, but I have many favourite painters, also of all times, like Velázquez, Tápies, Orozco, Toledo, and Tuymans.”
Santiago is the size of a crayon, very shy, and whispers that she currently teaches in the Municipal Arts Centre. I believe the school has been re named – The Ricardo Urquijo Betran Art School- in honour of this great man who did so much for the arts of Mazatlan. Ricardo and Lucila would often travel to the small country towns on Sundays and give art classes. She misses this kind, wonderful man and mourns his death. “Who will go to these pueblos now and teach the children about art, flowers and birds” she wonders.
Lucila’s paintings are hanging around the word: Mexico City, Spain, Athens, Brazil, New Zealand and Canada. She admits she works quickly and she can finish two canvases a month. Often she has a photo, but most times the idea is already formed in her mind and the acrylic tubes get squeezed and the brush dances over the canvas. She listens to jazz, Brazilian and classical music while she paints. She is part of the Glen Rogers’s printmaking exchange group and was recently in Bluseed, Sarnac, New York State. “I felt blessed to be in another environment, another country to be sharing and painting.”
As she was sipping her ginger ale her body language indicated she was terribly uncomfortable talking about herself. She would be much happier at home painting in her living room. I cut the interview short, because after all, her paintings are worth way more than any of my words.
(you can see Lucila’s paintings at Luna Gallery. They can arrange an appointment for you to view her portfolio.