August 25, 2008

Un regalo de Jalisco y Zapotlanejo *

Paco Padilla, center, and some bandmates

* A gift from Zapotlanejo, our sister city

The state of Jalisco, Mexico, and the city of Zapotlanejo, Racine's newest sister city, gave us a gift last night -- a rousing performance of modern Mexican music and dance.

Performing in Monument Square were Paco Padilla, his band of eight musicians and four dancers. The group is visiting here -- this was their first performance in Wisconsin -- and before they return home to Guadalajara next Monday they will perform in Chicago, Melrose Park and Aurora, Illinois, and Indiana.

Betty Franco sings

Padilla has been performing for more than 30 years, and has been all over the world, including France, Italy, Germany, Europe and Latin America. He's a songwriter as well as a performer, telling stories through his music that touched the mostly Hispanic audience who needed no translation.

"We represent the new way of Mexican music," Padilla said, and his band was the furthest thing from what the term usually brings to mind here -- Mariachi bands, for example. "Mariachi music is for the countryside," Padilla said. "Now, we're mostly born in and grow up in big cities, that's the new Mexico, and that's our music."

Miguel Angel dances

Zapotlanejo officially became Racine's sixth sister city on July 3, when Racine Mayor Gary Becker and Zapotlanejo’s municipal president, Hector Alvarez Contreras, signed the "twinning" agreements. The next day they marched together in the city's FourthFest parade.

Racine's five other sister cities are: Oiso, Japan; Montelimar, France; Aalborg, Denmark; Forteleza, Brazil; and Bluefields, Nicaragua.

Death wants a dance...

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