Son del Centro Benefit Show This Friday!

Son del Centro's roots date back almost ten years now when high school-aged youth began exploring the rich Mexican musical tradition of son jarocho. Five years ago, the group's efforts came to fruition in the form of their first album Mi Jarana es mi Fusil. Son del Centro owes its accomplishments, which include performances in Veracruz, Mexico, on the stage of the House of Blues in Chicago, to a community-based project started in 2002 out of Santa Ana's El Centro Cultural de Mexico. As the longtime nonprofit's occupancy of the Knight's of Pythias building on the corner of Fifth and Broadway will end next month at the behest of the property owners, the son jarocho group returns to a familiar role in a new context, performing benefit shows for the community organization that birthed them now in its time of need.


If not for the eviction drama, this Friday's show would have taken on a different form. “Two years ago we held our first Encuentro de Jaraneros in Santa Ana,” says Ana Siria Urzua of Son del Centro. “Our intention was to host one every two years.” The need to find a new space, continue classes at the cultural center and plan for packing up diverted energy away from the ambitious endeavor this summer. But the show still goes on, even if in scaled-down form. With the focus of helping the Centro in its current predicament as well as continuing the work of its transnational projects, Son del Centro will be performing with special invited musicians from Veracruz and Los Angeles.

The event will take place at a nearby union hall as opposed to the community center itself. “We wanted to get a bigger space,” says longtime member Pedro Lopez of the venue choice.” We have a more urgent call out to the people who are in solidarity with El Centro and we want to be able to accommodate them.” Those who attend can help out not only by the suggested donation at the door, but also by entering a raffle to win a jarana, the stringed instrument central to the rhythm of son jarocho. Food, drinks and artesania will be sold to help out the cause as well.

For Son del Centro, the upcoming fundraiser is nothing new, even if a sense of urgency underpins it. “We've never been a group with a function outside of Centro,” Lopez says. “Whatever we make is 100% to the benefit of the community space.” The invited musicians are helping out as well. Los Utrera, comprised of a well-known family within the genre, are providing some of the arts and crafts from Veracruz and Andres Flores, a respected percussionist formerly of Chuchumbé, will be an in-residence teacher at the Centro from August until the date the premises are to be vacated.

Urzua herself was once a student of the free instructional music classes years ago before going on to become a teacher. She noted there were concerns expressed by all those young and old who spend their Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings, respectively, at the Centro learning how to play son jarocho music about where and how they will continue on as the specter of eviction looms. For a tradition that has proven resilient over the span of centuries in Mexico, there is no worry, however, that the music will fade away in Santa Ana, even if the organization finds itself in a period of spatial purgatory.

“El Centro is about learning and expressing our culture,” Urzua says. “The spirit will remain alive in the expression and rhythm of the people.”

Son del Centro performs with Andres Flores, Los Utrera and Cambalache at Plumbers and Steamfitters Local Union #582, 3904 W. First Street, Santa Ana. Fri. 7-11 p.m. $10 suggested donation

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