of the Colorado at San Pasqual 11/12
By Roy Cook
At the 11/9/12 San Pasqual screening of Songs of the Colorado, the filmmaker Dan Golding and his parents along with many of the DVD filmed principals and their friends and family were in attendance: Preston Arrow-Weed, Ron Christman, Quechan Elder Vernon Smith, Alan Hatcher, Ral Christman, Stan Rodriguez, Paipai Delphina Albanes from Santa Catarina and Jon Meza Cuero.
Some of the singers
related how they came to be inspired to learn and finally sing their songs
in public. Some of those song-stories may take an entire night to tell.
Ethno-musicologists refer to them as song cycles. A Lead Singer like Preston
Arrow-Weed will begin performing when the sun sets and continue through
the night, until the sun rises the following day. Some song cycles may
have as many as 300 songs that have to be performed in a particular order.
Lead Singers dedicate their lives to learning each and every song in the
string. Additionally this night there were various groups of dancers assembled,
mostly female, and inspired by the gourd rattle and song joined in the
song presentations. The dancing is often directed by the rhythm of the
moment and lead singer. Often the selected songs will move the assembly
to areas of complexity and delight.
An upcoming related
cultural opportunity to learn the Kumeyaay language will be offered this
month, Nov. 16-18, 12, on the Sycuan reservation. Stan Rodriguez will
lead a three day immersion workshop in the Kumeyaay language. Stan Rodriguezs
family is from Santa Ysabel. "The need to preserve my people's culture
has been very important to me and by learning these songs I will be able
to pass this tradition on to others. It is my fear that as the singers
get older and pass away, the songs and the stories that are told in the
songs will also die out."