On October 30, 2012 five traditional string musicians from Acayucan, Veracruz, Mexico known as the collective “Son Altepee,” were at the Springfield Grange in Watsonville, CA touring a short documentary film, performing live music, and sharing their perspectives.
“Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: Traditional String Music” (“Ayer, Hoy y Mañana: Música Tradicional de Cuerdas”) is a documentary film talking about their work and music, and how they use it as a tool for community organizing.
After the film and live performance, Son Altepee spoke about the current political situation in Mexico, including the effects of neoliberalsm on communities in Veracruz, the so-called war on drugs, and the current electoral fraud scandal.
Simón Sedillo is a community rights defense organizer and filmmaker. He has spent the last 9 years documenting, producing and teaching community based video documentation in Mexico and the US. Through lectures, workshops, and short films, Sedillo breaks down the effects of neoliberalism, the North American Free Trade Agreement, and militarism on indigenous communities, immigrant communities, and communities of color in the US and Mexico. Through collaborative media projects, Sedillo’s work has contributed to a growing network of communities whose primary objective is to share, teach, and learn from one another, about community based media production and the collective construction of horizontal networks of community rights defense.
Manovuelta works on different types of community based media productions with indigenous communities, immigrant communities, and communities of color both in the US and in Mexico.
Son Altepee make their own instruments, repair instruments, teach string music, contribute to traditional community celebrations, build community with elders and youth in several communities throughout southern Veracruz, and they support several struggles for liberation and self determination in Veracruz and throughout Mexico. Their work sets the bar a lot higher for anybody that is trying to build anything, from the bottom up.
Here is a little bit more about how Son Altepee see themselves and the world around them:
We are a group of youth from different parts of southern Veracruz who see string music as a tool of social consciousness in a shared environment: the huapango, a traditional celebration of our indigenous communities. We promote community based organization and participation.
We believe it is possible to achieve a common good through community values, as opposed to the social structures imposed by the high circles of power. The mass media and official educational structures show us that individualism, corruption, violence, and oblivion are the foundations of modern day life. Through our contact with elder musicians from our region we have learned that there are many different ways to live this life, which can be based on a sense of community, memory, collective work, respect and equality. These are the foundations we have to build a society based upon the collective inheritance of our peoples.”
These photos are from their performance on October 30, and a hike in Big Basin State Park on October 31.