MACUILXOCHITL: Five Flower,” the Aztec god of music and dance
By Francisco H. Ciriza
Having sold out six concerts between the Los Angeles and Anaheim House of Blues concert venues this past week, top-selling Mexican rock band, Jaguares, has added one more show to their tour before leaving the greater LA area. After the show, which will take place at the Anaheim HOB on Tuesday April 6, 2004 at 8p.m. the band will continue on the latest of its tours as well as prepare for the release of its first official DVD on May 20. The group has chosen to donate the proceeds from the April 6th show to East L.A. Classic Theatre (ECT) and its Beyond Borders: Literacy Through Performing Arts program.
After breaking for the holidays late last year, the band’s four members Saul Hernandez, Alfonso Andre, Cesar Lopez, and Federico Fong have hit the road once again for a series of concerts that has taken them from Mexico City where they played with fellow Latino alternative mainstays, Maldita Vecindad and Julieta Venegas to Texas and now through California. They are scheduled to return to Mexico for appearances and eventually travel as far south as Lima, Peru.
Hernandez explained that because of steep taxes levied by the Mexican government and the way in which major record labels like theirs, BMG, structure their contracts with recording artists, the band chooses to do more than its fair share of touring. It’s something the veterans of Latino Rock’s harder side are resigned to continue throughout their careers. While the band thoroughly enjoys and appreciates the opportunity to share the live experience with its dedicated and loyal fans, quite frankly, “It’s what allows us to eat,” says Hernandez.
Not surprisingly, however, Jaguares will be donating the entirety of next Tuesday’s concert proceeds to ECT and Beyond Borders. ECT was formed to combat the educational disadvantages and challenges facing youth in impoverished communities of Los Angeles County and beyond. Jaguares has even utilized its own network of media contacts to help get the word out about the show and the cause. An email sent from the band’s longtime business manager, Marusa Reyes, read, “Please help us promote the show and above all: buy a ticket, there will be no guest list for this event.”
Lending a hand to help out a worthy cause is something Jaguares has a history of doing. In 1999, the band played a benefit concert in Hollywood for The Hollywood Clinic a provider of care to uninsured A.I.D.S. and H.I.V. positive patients. Most recently, the group has strongly supported the organization, Nuestras Hijas, which continues the search for justice in the horrendous string of murders of young women in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. The band invited a spokesperson for the organization to join them on tour and devoted time during their set for her to speak to the audience.
Over ECT’s 8-year history, it has grown from offering one literacy workshop series to providing 45 model programs for academically at-risk and bilingual students throughout Southern California. The Beyond Borders program, utilizing Culturally Responsive Process Drama, has provided comprehensive language education and engaging, relevant, classic dramatic literature for underserved youth and minority communities. It has proven to be an effective program that dramatically increases literacy and reading scores of low-income, urban youths through direct engagement in literary exploration, language proficiency, and culturally adapted performances of classic theatre. It strives to move underserved students beyond their cultural, social, economic, educational, vocational, and psychological borders toward higher academic and personal development.
ECT has also toured unique productions of culturally specifics adaptations of Shakespeare and other classic created for minority audiences with little or no theatre going experience. The company has brought performances including a Mariachi Much Ado About Nothing and a Zoot Suit Romeo and Juliet to over 170 schools and L.A.’s Ford Amphitheatre. 91,600 students, teachers and families have participated since 1995.