Lone Piñon: From Borderlands Polkas to Onda Chicana and beyond

A map of the U.S.A. prior to 1853, would look mighty different from today’s. As the song says, “Yo no crucé la frontera, la frontera me cruzó a mí.” (I didn’t cross the border, it crossed me). And at the center of those cultural crossroads and changing borders in the southwest, lays what we know today as the state of New Mexico.

The acoustic trio of Lone Piñon celebrates Nuevomexicano roots music and its many-faceted influences in updated versions of tunes in an old school Chicano string band style that once flourished in their state, using violin, accordion, guitar, guitarrón, upright bass and harmony vocals in three languages: Spanish, English, and Nahuatl.

Chicago audiences familiar with son jarocho (thanks to our city’s rich tradition in this genre), will enjoy Lone Piñon’s version of the classic tune La Petenera, as well as an irresistibly toe-tapping repertoire of huapangos, son calentanos, Mexican polkas and chotis (curiously enough, derived from Schottische dance music) and even classic borderlands conjunto.

All of these genres crossed paths in New Mexico, the northernmost, most isolated back-country of Mexico/New Spain. As Jordan Wax (fiddle, accordion, vocals) explained by email, “…music that arrived with Spanish settlers took a different form than in Mexico, and was then further shaped by generations of contact with Anglo-American fiddle music arriving from Missouri via the Santa Fe Trail. It’s close enough to Oklahoma and Texas to have absorbed elements of Western Swing, and surrounded by the West enough to have absorbed Country and Western elements.” Wax himself knows Anglo-American music well, as he grew up in Missouri and was traditionally trained by master Ozark fiddler Fred Stoneking. Lone Piñon also draws the connection between New Mexican dance music and onda chicana and other music of the area that is generally associated with guitar bands.

Lone Piñon will be sharing music from “Trio Nuevomexicano”, their debut album, as well as a preview of tunes from their second album, “Días Felices,” set to be released next month by Living Music Dupli-cation

Bring your dancing shoes to Old Town School of Folk Music on February 22 and at Sabor a Café on February 23!

Check Beat Latino, Catalina’s weekly, culturally-themed exploration of Latinx music of all genres.