Pistolera rocks UCC’s Day of the Dead
The United Community Center buzzed with excitment Friday night (Nov. 4). Onlookers flocked to the Latino Arts gallery for the exhibit of Day of the Dead Ofrendas, and Pistolera was in the house to play a concert
Dia de los Muertos, often misunderstood as the Mexican equivalent of Halloween, is one of the most recognizable celebrations of Latino culture. Strongly tied to the Catholic tradition of Mexico, Dia de Los Muertos takes place over the same period as All Saints Day and All Souls Day.
In honor of friends and family who have passed on, families create ofrendas (offerings) to honor their memories. These mini-altars are as varied as the people who create them. Some are as simple as a burning candle near a photo of the deceased. Others take on complex motifs complete with personal effects and symbolic offerings, such as pan de muerte, the bread of the dead. An outsider can feel invasive about looking at ofrendas, but we can all learn from the beauty of this tradition. Rather than erasing the deceased from their minds and hearts, the artists featured in the exhibit made a public display of their reverence.
Innocents by Ernesto J. Aguilar is dedicated to the innocent victims of violence occurring south of the border. Cream and white elements adorn a sparse table to suggest the purity of those lost.
La Llorona, a black and white print by Ramiro Rodriguez, stirred something in me. The image evokes the eponymous folkloric figure of the Wailing Woman, who cast her children into a river in a fit of jealousy, only to die of a broken heart. Stacy Vital also worked the La Llorona theme. Both works remind us that death does not always come peacefully.
Brooklyn-based Pistolera rocked the UCC with their own brand of Mexican folklorico, afro-Caribbean percussion, and hard-hitting rock and roll.
Spanish for “female gunslinger,” Pistolera brought the house down as they played originals and covers. With proud faces painted in traditional sugar skull motif, they delivered a healthy dose of sensuality and humor punctuated with colorful banter in English and Spanish.
With a bit of urging from lead singer and guitarist Sandra Velasquez, members of the audience danced to the enticing rhythm of drummer Sebastian Guerrero and soulful accordion stylings of Maria Elena. Madelyn Burgess on bass and Mark Tewarson, lead guitar, complete the powerful young band.