No Borders!

So many things separate us. Cultural, political, gender, economic and physical differences are a few of the ones that lead people to make borders. They can be lines on a map or physical barriers (as some have created and too many want) which attempt to keep differences apart. On the one hand, differences are exploited to convince people to hate each other and fight wars, while on the other hand, the commonality of the human experience transcends walls between us and leads to appreciation and even love of those who are not like us. Music is a pretty fine way to bring people together, and it’s usually pretty hard for anyone to resist another culture’s music, especially when you experience it live. In that spirit, the opening show of the UCSB Arts & Lectures 2017-18 season made a convincing case for more of it! Chinelas de Santa Barbara got things started with a bang in front of the Granada Theatre, then whirled and danced down State Street a couple of blocks before returning to the theater and going inside for a rousing brass and drum version of the “Mexican Hat Dance,” and that was just a prelude to Lila Downs. Ms. Downs, who is half Mexican and half Ango-American, crosses the border between the U.S. and Mexico regularly and lives in both countries. Her show at the Granada was a trip through the music and culture of Mexico, with a special focus on the life of women, touching on the suffering, pain, loves and joys that are uniquely theirs. Showcasing her extraordinary voice and strong political sentiments, and featuring a wonderful band which included 3 violinist from here in Santa Barbara, this was an exciting and beautiful climax to a grand celebration of the culture of the country that California was once a part of. Viva!