Wander into any neighborhood in Tucson and, chances are, you’ll run into accordionists, fiddlers or guitarists, just making their music. This exciting diversity of local song finds its natural pitch deeply rooted in our lands. So it will be at October’s Tucson Meet Yourself, where even more so this year, attendees will find everyday people with their tablas, their bagpipes and their trumpets, dancing their waila or pumping cumbia, keeping their traditions alive.
TMY musical producer Richard Noel asks us to listen carefully for our multicultural musical roots as we ready for TMY. What’s special this year, Richard says, is that performances are organized into living cultural groups — so that whatever style TMY attendees want to locate from bluegrass to la musica norteña — it will be easy to do so. Examples of the upcoming TMY music magic:
- Among the performers this year: Native American Awards Artist of the Year and Yaqui guitarist Gabriel Ayala will be with us, sharing his compositions influenced by local nature. Also expect a master drummer from Guinea and a performance of the colorful Chinese lion dancers (commemorating one of the first performances at the original 1974 Tucson, Meet Yourself gathering). Still tentative, but hoped for, is participation of musicians representing additional refugee groups, including Syria and Ethiopia.
- Expect the TMY performances to be presented in four, easily-located stages: City Hall, Jacome Plaza, Church Street and the Community Matters stage by the Congress bridge and Pima County Main Office building. A jam session area (again harkening back to the original TMY experiences) also is planned.
- Performance categories will allow onlookers to easily locate the diversity of musical styles and traditions, Richard says. These organized groupings range from Global Dancing, to Native American Song and Dance, from Dance Band Traditions and Country Western, to Soul Sounds and what Richard terms, the “Mariachi Explosion.”
- In addition to the simplified grouping of traditional styles, Richard also indicates that TMY performances will be more interactive this year, with artists performing, and then personalizing the program and explaining more about their music. There will be more workshop experiences, allowing fun, education and entertainment aspects to intermingle.
- On Sunday morning (October 13, 8am), the 25th Annual AIDSWalk Tucson will process through downtown, bringing together the spirit of community and good health within the festival footprint.
TMY’s original intention of being one of the best ways to express cultural traditions will come shining through, Richard reports. “Music brings communities and people together and that is what Tucson Meet Yourself is all about, especially so for our 40th Anniversary program,” he says.