Gosh, we wish we could be in Tucson right now, and not just because it’s sunny and warm there and here in Montana it’s, well, not.
It’s because we want to see Gertie Lopez perform waila, aka the music of the Tohono O’odham.
Waile is a version of baile, the Spanish word for dance, and is a combination of “happy dance”music of polka, schottische, mazurka, chote, two-step, cumbia and Kwayla, Tohono O’odham square dance, reports Ernesto Trujillo Jr. of the Arizona Daily Star. As he tells it:
She fronts Gertie & the T.O. Boyz, who for the past eight years have performed during “A Tucson Pastorela,” an annual Christmas play produced by Borderlands Theater.
Joining Lopez for “A Tucson Pastorela 2009″: Jimmy Francisco on bass, Nathanial Thomas on drums and Eric Garcia on guitar.
“Pastorela” is the story of shepherds who are lured to Belen to see the newborn Christ child. On their journey they are guided by angels and distracted by Lucifer and his mischievous little devils.
“We play for all kinds of people. I think that it doesn’t matter who’s playing, they love waila music,” Lopez tells Portillo.
As he recounts, she was born in Chui-Chu, a village 10 miles south of Casa Grande, in the Sif-Oidak District of the Tohono O’odham Nation, which stretches across three counties in Arizona and also includes a bit of Sonora, Mexico.
The group has two CDs: “To Everyone Who Has Left Us Forever” and “Tohono O’odham & Proud,” fib Mumsigo Ki recordss. A third recording, “A Tribute to My Dad Augustine B. Lopez Sr.” will be released soon,
“My musical dream is to someday tour the world and show them that this Native American Tohono O’odham woman can play some accordion and sing,” she says. “I would like to show people of the entire world what waila music sounds like and how it is played.”
Lacking a trip to Tucson, we’d like that, too!