The email invitation directed me to Number 9, a venue I had never heard of, to see Alfonsina, a band I had never heard of. I had been forewarned by the producer that a concert was coming at a private venue, so I had held the evening open. A follow up poster gave me an address and a little Googling told me Alfonsina was a Guadalajara-based all-female band that included a washboard, a sax, a trombone, a bass, and a ead guitar. This sounded very interesting.
I love washboards and I have been hungry for the sound of Guadalajara – the rock and post-rock and electronica and fusion music in the clubs in the city, which was only an hour drive away. I used to catch rock acts at places like the C2, the Hudson, and at the FIMPRO music convention, but they all were shut down with Covid. Many are open now but the scene has not fully recovered, so I was hungry for young, hip, cool music.
But first I had to find Number 9. The directions gave me the street name and said it was a few meters lakeside from the highway and a big liquor store. I found it when a guitar player from the local Aloha Rock Band stuck his head out of a door in a big metal gate so I knew this was the place.
Boy, was it ever. After climbing through the door in the gate, I was facing a vast lawn surrounded by a two-story wall, with a large permanent stage in one corner, a small bar, tables scattered around, mostly under trees for shade, and a delicious-smelling buffet table with women slapping tortillas and serving pork and chicken and beef filling, beans, creamed cauliflower, and salsa. On stage were mics for what looked like 5 or 6 musicians, guitars, a bass, horns, and a group of young women sitting on the edge of the stage talking to people who stopped by to chat.
Fliting around was Ray Domenech, owner of Ray Velvet Productions, the concert producer, tweaking the sound, helping people find their tables, and in general making sure the concert went perfectly – as he always does.
The band blew me away. They bill themselves as Alfonsina es la fusión musical expresada por voz, – Alfonsina is the musical fusion expressed by voice. Don’t confuse them with Alfonsina Stormi, the Argentine poetess who committed suicide by walking into the sea and who has been memorialized in Alfonsina el Mar by Natalie Lafourcade and Mercedes Sosa, nor with the Alfonsina singer from Uruguay you find on Spotify. They are Aslfonsia from Guadalajara with fusion music. And it was – a fusion of gypsy rock, New Orleans jazz, Mexican pop, and American rock and oldies like “Hound Dog” and “Hit the Road Jack” sung in English and Spanish.
The afternoon was a delight of perfect weather, a perfectly pulled-off production, good food, good tequila and cerveza, and a group of young women with an eclectic collection of instruments who knew exactly how to run through genres to please a diverse audience in two languages. Pretty damn good for a band is “emerging” – no streams, no albums, no recordings, no manager, no PR firm – just Facebook and Instagram pages, live appearances, and live videos, including one shot inside the Guadalajara Metro.
Alfonsina rocks with a unique blend of instruments, voices, and genres and a near-telepathic read of their audience. I think we will be hearing a lot from Alfonsina once they get some original songs done, some streams up , and maybe an album or EP out there. In the meantime, I am signed up for alerts on their live shows and more musical afternoon delights.
Patrick O’Heffernan, Host, Music Sin Fronteras radio
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