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Paco Padilla and his band in Springfield

Springfield Sister Cities Association has brought renouned Mexican musician and artist Paco Padilla from our Sister City Tlaquepaque, Mexico, to town for the Missouri State University Public Affairs Conference and several performances. KSMU's Randy Stewart has this profile.

Springfield's Sister City of Tlaquepaque, Mexico is about five miles from the metropolitan area of Guadalajara. Tlaquepaque has become a center for galleries, shops, trendy restaurants, and the home of artisans and musicians like Paco Padilla.


Paco Padilla is an internationally acclaimed composer and performer of the modern Mexican folkmusic-inspired genre known as "nuevo cancion"--"new song." Thanks to a grant from the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, Sister Cities was able to bring Paco Padilla and his band to Springfield to participate in Missouri State University's Public Affairs Conference this week; perform at numerous local elementary schools; and make other personal appearances, like this one at the Brentwood Branch Library this afternoon.


Padilla notes that they perform and record all original compositions, but that they're inspired primarily by the traditional Mexican style.

PACO PADILLA: All the songs are original--ours.

RANDY: But would you say it's very much in a folk style, though?

PACO PADILLA: Oh yes, yes. Our influences--the most big influence is the traditional Mexican music. And then we know now more, like, jazz or rock, and we make a mixture. And that's the music that we play.


This song, "La Navaca"--"The Knife"--is Spanish flamenco-influenced, and it comments on corrupt politics in Mexico... and elsewhere.


At this performance at the Brentwood Branch Library, Paco Padilla and his band performed everything from a humorous song about how much better life would be in Guadalajara if everyone rode a bicycle, to this virtually Paganini, or gypsy, sounding instrumental, featuring a virtuoso performance by violinist Jesus Cervantes.


As Paco Padilla says:

PACO PADILLA: It's very difficult to play, so not just anybody can play it. (laughs)

RANDY: Exactly.

Padilla has been with his two lead guitarists, Raoul Rodriguez and Enrique Ortiz, for 25 years, and the other band members have been with him a decade. He's released ten CDs, and says he plays 200 dates a year--but mostly at home in Mexico.

PACO PADILLA: Mostly in Mexico, but we usually go--for example, next week we go to Oregon forone week, and we go to Spain for one week. But most of the time we play in Mexico.

RANDY: How many performances do you do a year?

PACO PADILLA: I think about 200. Sometimes in Mexico I do four or five every day, because I go to the schools; I have to play at night; I go to the hospitals; I go to the jails; I go to special locations. So I don't think I am a "singer" or a "musician"--I think I'm a "communicator." And I take my friends (indicating his band members) to help me. I take the music like a vehicle to say what I want to say.