Saturday, October 20, 2018

Tucson, Meet Yourself, A New Age Festival; by Antonio SolisGomez

Friday at sunset after a raining day

In 1974 a far reaching thinker named Jim Griffith had an idea to gather Tucson’s diverse ethnic communities and allow them to showcase their cultural gifts in music and dance and to provide them an opportunity to set up booths to sell food unique to their group.
I had their Spankopita-delicious

Big Jim Griffith playing his banjo in some previous occasion

2018 marked the 45th year that this festival has taken place. I began attending in 1976 and none of the joy and excitement that I felt then has diminished. For where else can one find a gathering of people that have come for the specific purpose of honoring and embracing their differences, forgetting the divisiveness that currently prevails in this and other lands and simply enjoying music and dance from various parts of the world and of course partake in the culinary delights that for some, is the primary reason to attend.

There are a couple of elements that make the Tucson Meet Yourself different from other music festivals. Firstly there is no charge to attend. It is held downtown and a few streets are closed off and there is no entrance gate whatsoever.

Secondly, at other music festivals those that attend comprise the gamut of attitudes and beliefs regarding social and political issues. The music whether it’s Jazz or Blues, or Country brings diverse people together and unites them with sound but the attendees leave as they came, attitudes and beliefs intact.
Holladay Steppers: SHE PHI

At Tucson Meet Yourself the attendees are self selected by the theme and purpose of the festival. People that do not embrace the value that a diverse community of immigrants adds to their community are of course not purposely excluded but they probably stay away.

The Festival is attended by many thousands of people and when there is a gathering of that many people professing love for their neighbors, it becomes a special setting, generating waves of compassion and love that transcends this Sonoran Desert city and confirms the possibility of a world that was foreseen by the Mayans.
Dr. José Arguelles who made people aware of the Mayan Calendar

The Mayans, through their calendar, informed the world of the death of their world in 12/21/2012, a world characterized by separation, exclusivity, intolerance, strict social stratification and violence as a means to settle disputes and to obtain riches and power.

People dancing to Bassa Nova

What many people missed in viewing the Mayan Calendar, however is that a new age was to be birthed when the old world expired. There were a few old souls and sages such Jose Arguelles who tried informing the world of the impending New Age that was to commence and that the Mayan Calendar’s prophesy about the end of the world was a metaphor for the ending of an age.
Linda Lou & The Drifters  Playing old Cowboy songs- opened with I'm an old cowhand from the Rio Grand.

The media took the end of the world literally and thus misinformed the public, never looking beyond what the pseudo scientists were saying about the Mayan Calendar. When 12.22.2012 arrived and the world was still intact, the media and their misinformed public laughed at the absurdity of the Mayan Prophesy.

Kids taking a sidewalk break to eat ice cream
I’m fairly sure that it was not Jim Griffith’s intent in putting forth his ideas about Tucson, Meet yourself to hook into the New Age. He was merely following his heart to bring people from different backgrounds to one place to share music, dance and food. He was by the way, a great old time banjo player and in addition to being the Master of Ceremonies he would also find occasion to play his banjo on stage with some of the guest musicians.
The Old Pueblo --Blues Grass Band

This year the location was altered slightly and three stages were set up at the end of three streets. The event ran for three days starting at noon on Friday and ending at 10 PM on Sunday. It’s nearly impossible to attend the entire time and catch all the acts at the three stages and sample the food.
Mono Blanco palying Jarocho, traditional musci from Vera Cruz Mexico

Big Jim's idea of bringing guest musicians has continued and this year one of the headliners was Mono Blanco, a group that plays Jarocho, traditional music from Veracruz Mexico. And they lived up to their press, which includes playing abroad and being recorded by the Smithsonian, as a prime example of musicians playing traditional music.
Quarter Royale playing Balkan influenced blues

No comments: