After years of so many music festivals, in so many countries, it’s easy to get jaded and think you’ve seen it all. But really, music is like knowledge: the more you discover, the more you realize that you don’t really know.
The Quimera Music Festival in Metepec, Mexico lasts about a week. It is heavy on culture, with dance performances, art workshops, jazz and classical music, but also features some popular Mexican acts. This year the two big names were Celso Pina and Pate de Fua. I’m a big fan of Celso Pina and his rebel cumbia, but missed his show because of work. But I caught Pate de Fua and their old-timey, jazzy music – the only time I’ve seen a banjo played in Mexico.
Metepec is a small town outside industrial Toluca, about an hour from Mexico City. The concerts are mostly held in three locations: inside an old cathedral, on a big stage in the Zocalo (center square) of town, or on the steps of the hill on which another, larger cathedral is located. They are all just minutes from each other, and between them are lots of vendors. You can eat tacos and other Mexican specialties like pambazos, or buy crafts like pottery or hand woven clothing.
This year, after seeing some lukewarm tango on the Zocalo stage, I finally made the discovery I was waiting for. Fado is traditional Portuguese music, and Ana Moura is one of the leaders of the modern Fado pack. But I had no idea of this at the time. Accompanied by an acoustic bass, guitar, and Portuguese guitar, she sang a mix of traditional numbers and her own hits, like the song “Leva-me aos Fados,” during which she got the Spanish speaking crowd to sing along with the chorus. She also did a long, slow rendition of “No Expectations” by the Rolling Stones.
It’s enchanting music and was a total surprise, which are the best reasons to attend festivals like Quimera.