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Dispatches From Mexico City: A Place Of Music

Author: Ty Trumbull
Last Thursday was the culmination of months - or years, depending on where I set the marker - of a lot of work. As regular readers know, in addition to being a writer I’m also a musician. I often refer to them as “day job” and “night job” because they each take up a pretty equal amount of time. (My girlfriend prefers to call it “job that wakes her up at 2 AM when I come home late.”) I’ve talked about my band Los Peseros before, but I also have a pet project called Defeños. On Thursday of last week, we released our debut EP. It’s a project I’ve been trying to assemble basically since I arrived in Mexico, while some of the songs we play actually taking shape before I left Canada. We held the show at a local favorite bar called Black Horse (or Caballo Negro, depending on the first language of the person doing the talking) and somehow managed to fill the place with friends. Considering we started playing at 11:30 PM on a Thursday night, it was a pretty good turnout.

A City Of Music

But the point of this piece isn’t to ramble on about my band and our new EP (which you can listen to here, by the way… apologies for the shameless plug.). I want to talk about the abundance of live music in Mexico City. Upon reflection, it’s one of the reasons that moving to this city has meant so much to me. I love live music. I go to see it as much as I can. Everything from punk and metal to folk music to mariachi and polka music. There’s so much of it here and I’ve been doing a lot of thinking as to why. The simplest explanation is that it’s part of the culture. People here love to celebrate and dance and a good band can help facilitate that. But so can a DJ with a good playlist, so it has to be more than that. One theory I have is that the climate helps. Back home in Canada, as well as large swaths of the United States, for at least half the year it’s just too darn cold to venture outside at night for anything other than an extra special event. Sure, I’d be willing to brave the cold in January to see Bob Dylan, but I’m far less likely to get weighed down by all my winter gear just to go check out some local band at the bar down the street. Here, that isn’t really a problem. A light jacket and an umbrella will get you through the coldest nights.

Big Numbers

And on top of all of that, there’s the sheer number of people. Mexico City proper has about 8.84 million people, while the Greater Mexico City population is 21.3 million people. The entire population of Canada is just over 36 million people. The concentration of people here means there are simply more eyes to see musicians perform. Couple that with the number of bars and restaurants in this city and it starts to seem silly that there aren’t more musicians plying their trade. Indeed, there are much more opportunities here for musicians than I was used to back home. Within my first six months here I was contributing backing tracks for the Mexican version of The Voice and sitting in as a session player for a famous Mexican singer’s Christmas album. It helped that there weren’t really any other banjo players around, but it has also proven indicative of the place music has in this city. The culture and climate create the perfect conditions for it to thrive.
Ty Trumbull, from his base in Mexico City, covers the entrepreneur’s journey and business continuity for ChannelE2E. Each Tuesday or so, he offers views about his adopted hometown — his personal Dispatches from Mexico City. Oh, but sometimes he pops up in his home nation of Canada.