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Tuesday October 21, 2014
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Santa Cruz River Band

 

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Mexican-American musical culture, and her family, past and present, includes several musical tradition bearers. Among them is her brother Michael J. Ronstadt, one of the trio that make up the Santa Cruz River Band.

In concert and on the first two of its three albums, the group has mixed songs from both sides of the border easily enough that you temporarily forget it's there. The three musicians sing in English, Spanish, and, on occasion, Arizona's Native American languages. Their original songs and covers are sometimes set in the borderlands: they perform, for example, David Olney's chilling "Women across the River," in which a narrator looks across the border at farm workers who "are as gentle as the dew upon the ground" but "can kill you with their eyes." But they effortlessly weave in songs from other traditions, like John Prine's "Paradise." Their prime criterion seems to be the presence of a good story with resonances beyond itself.

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