¡Que viva México!

Misas Y Fiestas Mexicanas
Recueillies et enregistress au Mexique par Gérard Krémer 


Misa Panamericana (Messe Des "Mariachis")

01.     Angelus ("Los Perales")     2:11
02.     Kyrie Eleison ("Misa Mexicana")     1:43
03.     Invocation     1:15
04.     Alleluia ("Misa En México")     0:58
05.     Credo ("Misa En México")     5:04
06.     Sanctus ("Misa En México")     2:37
07.     Agnus Dei ("Misa A La Chilena")     2:21
08.     Chemin D'Emmaüs     5:46
09.     Chant De Sortie     4:12

Misa Tepozteca

10.     Appel De Trompe, Teponaztili Et Chant D'Entrée     1:21
11.     Offertoire     0:53
12.     Sanctus     2:16
13.     Amen     1:24

La Charreada

14.     Entrée Des Charros     0:47
15.     La Bikina     2:12
16.     La Negra     2:42
17.     El Huateco     1:47

Otras Fiestas

18.     Sones De Michoacàn     2:55
19.     El Taconaso     2:20
20.     Hymne Au Soleil     1:37
21.     Danza De Los Negritos     1:40
22.     Danza De Los Voladores     1:28
23.     Danza De Los Viejitos     1:35



Initially recorded and released in 1972.

Prize Winner of the Grand Prix International Du Disque Académie Charles Cros.

Enregistrement: Guernavaca (Mexique)


Classical Nahuatl: Cuauhnāhuac /kʷawˈnaːwak/ "near the woods") is the capital and largest city of the state of Morelos in Mexico. It was established by the Olmec, "the mother culture" of Mesoamerica, approximately 3200 years ago and is designated as the archaeological site of Gualupita I . The city is located south of Mexico City, from which it may be reached after a drive of approximately thirty minutes using the D-95 Freeway.

The city was nicknamed the "City of Eternal Spring" by Alexander von Humboldt in the nineteenth century. It has long been a favorite escape for Mexico City and foreign visitors because of this warm, stable climate and abundant vegetation. Aztec emperors had summer residences there, and today many famous people as well as Mexico City residents maintain homes there. Considering its location of just a 30 minutes drive from Mexico City, Cuernavaca traditionally has been a center of Mexican society and glamour, with many of the country's wealthy citizens owning sprawling mansions and haciendas in this cultural haven. Cuernavaca is also host to a large foreign resident population, including large numbers of students who come to study the Spanish language.

The name "Cuernavaca" is derived from the Nahuatl phrase "Cuauhnāhuac" and means "surrounded by or close to trees". The name eventually was Hispanicized to Cuernavaca. The coat-of-arms of the municipality is based on the pre-Columbian pictograph emblem of the city which depicts a tree trunk (cuahuitl) with three branches, with foliage, and four roots colored red. There is a cut in the trunk in the form of a mouth, from which emerges a speech scroll, probably representing the language Nahuatl and by extension the locative suffix "-nāhuac", meaning "near".


I would love to dedicate this post to this lovely (right now sleeping) blog


Dear Monsieur Gérard Krémer,

thank you for sharing so much fantastic music with us! Please next time you go out recording other peoples music "in the field" don't forget to take your little booklet with you, the one, were you write down the names of the musicans, the instruments and all these things we so easily forget.
And please give the record company a copy of these notes. We would love to see them in the booklet and the artists would love to receive some money from the sale... you know copyright and all that stuff... anyhow it is just fair isn't it.
But again  thank you for your great work. It is a shame I could not find any info about you, your travels and work on the internet...
Hopefully you'll find these notebooks one day... and let us know :-)

Yours sincerely



Nadah Benagolze

Wood That Sings
Indian Fiddle Music of the Americas


01. Violín - José Enrique Benítez - 2:54
02. La Guaneña - Danubio Azul Group, The - 2:34
03. Danza a Santiago - Townspeople of Llacuari Pueblo - 3:02
04. Kariso - Antonio Lorenzano - 1:20
05. Araku - Gervasio Martínez - 2:10
06. Nantu ("Luna") - Pedro Nayap - 3:39
07. Yan Tox - Mateo Mo Xal and Crisanto Coc - 2:08
08. Jacaltenango - Grupo Jolom Conob - 3:52
09. Aires Fandango - Marcelino Poot Ek, Pedro Ek Cituk, and Esteban Caamal Dzul - 4:39
10. Tzacamson - Townspeople of Tancanhuitz - 1:55
11. Son Para Entregar a la Novia - José Augustín and José Martín Cruz - 4:00
12. Wiricuta - Mariano, Pablo, Rosenda, and Augustín - 2:05
13. Melody Played on the Enneg - Francisco Barnet Astorga - 0:48
14. I'll Go with You - Chesley Goseyun Wilson - 3:25
15. Pahko'ola Dance Song - Felipe Molina and the Yaqui Deer Singers - 3:37
16. Never Alone - The San Xavier Fiddle Band - 2:15
17. Strathspey and Reel Medley - Lee Cremo Trio - 4:49
18. Jig Medley - Lee Cremo Trio - 5:13
19. Finale Medley - Lawrence Houle - 7:26
20. Eagle Island Blues: Athapaskan Love Song - Bill Stevens, Frances Williams, and Lisa Jaeger - 4:28
21. Turkey in the Straw - Georgia Wettlin-Larsen - 1:17
22. Road to Baroche - Jimmie LaRocque, Gerry McIvor, and Kim Chartrand - 2:28
23. Big John McNeill - Jimmie LaRocque, Gerry McIvor, and Kim Chartrand - 2:07


Argentina; Bolivia; Canada; Colombia; Ecuador; Guatemala; Mexico; Peru; United States; Venezuela
Culture Groups:

Apache; Assiniboine; Chapaco; Gwich'in; Huichol; Kanjobal Maya; Kekchi; Maya; Mbya; Micmac; Nahua; Ojibwa; Quechua; Seri; Shuar; Tenek; Tohono O'Odham; Warao; Yaqui


Baritono; Bombo (Drum); Enneg; Fiddle; Flute; Guitar; Harp; Jigger; Kitar; Monochord; Piano; Rebec; Seke-Seke; Tambura; Tiple (Plucked instrument); Torola; Trumpet; Violin




This anthology of Indian fiddle music of the Americas features performances by Indian musicians from Nova Scotia and Manitoba to North Dakota and Arizona, to Mexico, Peru, and elsewhere in Latin America. Using this most popular of instruments as a way to explore the great variety and creativity of Indian musical traditions—from chicken scratch to the indigenous Apache fiddle—this recording expresses the capacity of Native cultures to adapt and synthesize non-Native influences.  

Chasi, Bonito's Son, an Apache musician playing the "Apache fiddle"

 Jonathan Colcord writes:

 Here is an interesting anthology of songs performed by native Americans. My first reaction to these recordings was that they were old. While much of the material may be, the recordings are all of relativley recent vintage. The most wonderful aspect of this release is the way the works are placed in relation to one another, almost like a musical map. It begins in Bolivia with a piece simply titled 'Violin' from Jose Enrique Benitez. We are moved from there to Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Agentina, Ecuador, Guatamala, and into Mexico. At this point you realize what is happening stylistically as we progress northward. Familiar western styles begin to emerge, epecially when Mexico emerges.

From there we move into Arizona, and from there, clear up to Cape Bretton. Mi'Kmaq group the Lee Cremo Trio play relatively straight forward Cape Bretton style fiddle music much to my surprise. It becomes more of a tribute to native musicians themselves than another collection of traditional songs, otherwise obscure. When we arrive in Manitoba, the styles bend more toward country fiddling even including a bit of the 'Orange Blossom Special'. In the US, stops are made in Alaska, Wisconsin, and North Dakota. One of the highlights for me was Jimmie Laroque, a Chippewa from Norht Dakota and 'Road To Batoche', a song which reminded me of 'Jerusalem's Ridge', one of my all-time favorite fiddle-tunes. Another high-point is Georgia Wettlin-Larsen, Assiniboine Nakota from Wisconsin performing 'Turkey In The Straw' including vocals in both English and her native language.

 Jim Nelson says:

Listening to this CD is like taking a musical journey among the Indian peoples that reside throughout the Western Hemisphere, from the Chapaco in Argentina to Gwich'in Athapaskans in Alaska, with stops all along the way. Some folks may be a bit surprised by the fact that fiddling itself is so commonplace among such diverse Indian cultures, and at the same time, by how remarkably similar some of this music sounds to fiddling traditions in the U.S. and Canada which derive directly from Scottish, Irish, and French sources with which they may be familiar. In fact, some of the fiddlers included here play in a style that is virtually identical to their Anglo counterparts. Leo Creomo and his trio, for example, play straight-ahead dance tunes not unlike those heard played throughout their native Cape Breton Island. Metis fiddlers Lawrence "Teddy Boy" Houle and Jimmie LaRocque both exhibit traces of Scottish as well as other European-rooted traditions, including Irish and French-Canadian. Both, for instance, play the well-known tune "Big John McNeill." Houle plays a medley of tunes that suddenly careens into bluegrass territory with versions of "Orange Blossom Special," "Old Joe Clark," and "Boil Them Cabbage Down."

While some of the tunes and styles played by the fiddlers from the U.S. and Canada often seem to have some familiar quality about them, the music on this disc played by the South and Central American musicians definitely sounds like it comes from a different time and place. Alternately mesmerizing or high-spirited, down-to-earth or downright spooky, the music captured on this CD is some of the most captivating and beautiful that I have experienced in some time. It is next to impossible to pick out favorites among the pieces as I hear something completely new each time I give this disc a listen.

This CD is a joint project of the National Museum of the American Indian and the Smithsonian Institution. The music was for the most part, recorded "in the field" by ethnomusicologists and folklorists from all parts of the Americas. As one might expect, the accompanying notes are extensive and informative, scholarly yet comprehensible, and help to provide the listener with clear contextual background about the music, the various types of violins and other instruments played, and the people who play them. The notes, which include bibliographical references, a discography and videography help to promote the sense that this CD is an important document. Any way one approaches it, Wood That Sings contains some lovely and captivating listening.  
Highly recommended.





Waila! ...don't stop dancing!


Tracks 1-4 are performed by El Conjunto Murrietta

01. La Sanja - "The Ditch" (3:02)
02. El Caballito Bronco - "Little Wild Pony" (2:40)
03. Y Cantatumbas - "Tumblings" (3:12)
04. Lucila (6:38)

Tracks 5-11 are performed by Mike Enis and Company

05. Agnes Polka (2:19)
06. Soy Norteño (3:09)
07. Cholla Polka (3:19)
08. Mesquite Polka (3:07)
09. Enis Special (1:59)
10. O'Dam-Cho - Two-Step (2:03)
11. To-Hono Polka - "Far Away" (2:26)

Tracks 12-17 are performed by Los Papagos Molinas

12. Tengo Mieto - Polka (2:28)
13. Tohono Chote - Chote (3:26)
14. Buttermilk - Polka (2:25)
15. Pisinimo Chote - Chote (2:43)
16. Winston Polka - Polka (2:47)
17. Hochude Waila - "Lizard Dance" Polka (2:40)

Tracks 18-23 are performed by Elvin Kelly y Los Reyes

18. Chen Wen Wen Chona - Polka (2:54)
19. La Zapateada - Redova (2:12)
20. Ester - Polka (3:03)
21. La Pipla - Chote (1:58)
22. El Gallo - Guaracha (3:03)
23. Ojos Peludo - Polka (2:40)

Total Time: 67:55




Originally released in 1972, these are the legendary first two recordings of waila, the energetic social dance music of the Native American peoples of the southern Arizona desert. Also referred to as "chicken scratch", the vibrant melodies of saxophone, accordion, and electric guitar glide across the solid backbeat of bass and drums performing polkas, schottisches, and mazurkas. This newly remastered collection brings together classic recordings of this musical hybrid rooted in the contacts between European immigrants and the Tohono O'odham peoples.


Some of the craziest, most infectious high-energy dance music of the Southwest is waila, sometimes called “chicken scratch,” created and perfected by the Tohono O’odham tribe (formerly called Papago) of southern Arizona.

There’s even a Waila Festival that takes place every May at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Canyon Records, that venerated purveyor of American Indian music both traditional and contemporary, recently re-released four of its classic 1970s waila albums on two CDs.

Waila! consists of the groundbreaking Chicken Scratch! (featuring two bands, El Conjunto Murietta and Mike Enis & Company) and its sequel, Chicken Scratch with Elvin Kelly y Los Reyes & Los Papagos Molinas. Both were originally released in 1972.

Then there’s The American Indians Play Waila, which consists of the first two albums by the Tohono O’odham band called The American Indians.

Waila — a word that comes from the Spanish baile (dance) — is predominantly instrumental music in which the lead instruments typically are the saxophone and accordion. At least since the rock ’n’ roll era, waila bands usually also include electric guitar, electric bass, and drums.

The history of waila is one of those tales of cultural cross-pollination that make America great. When German immigrants moved to Texas and introduced the accordion to the Mexicans already living there, the resulting proto-Tex-Mex sound swept the American Southwest (and northern Mexico, for that matter).

Tohono O’odham musicians, who had been introduced to European instruments by Catholic missionaries, took up the new sound, though the accordion wouldn’t become a staple in Tohono O’odham dance bands until the last half of the 20th century.

According to the Waila! liner notes, until the late ’40s, the typical band consisted of a fiddle, an acoustic guitar, bass drum, and snare drum. Sax and accordion came later — as did the wah-wah pedal, which American Indian John Manuel hooked up to his accordion in 1976 to produce some otherworldly sounds.

The nearby Pima tribe also embraced waila. Most of Los Reyes’ members, for example, are Pimas.

The songs come from old tribal melodies, Mexican songs, and European sources. Waila bands play a number of styles — polka, mazurka (originally a Polish folk-dance style), chote (a form of the German schottisches), and Mexican cumbia.

On some recordings, the guitars seem just slightly out of tune and the drums just a little clunky. I’m not sure if this is done intentionally, but the effect gives the music a strong DIY edge, an aura of roughness that distinguishes it from some of the squeaky-clean, overly precious polka records out there.

and get your own copy of the record

again here :-)


Rain Dance


"Waila! Making The People Happy"

"Waila! Making The People Happy"
Waila Music
Chicken Scratch 
Música del desierto norte SonorArizona 

 A Daniel Golding Film
When filmmaker Daniel Golding, a member of the Quechan Indian Tribe, set out to capture the essence of waila (pronounced "why-la") the social dance music of the Tohono O'odham (Desert People) of Arizona and Sonora, Mexico, he focused on the Joaquin Brothers and their descendants who live in Florence Village, Covered Wells and villages across the Tohono O'odham Nation.

 Waila, the contemporary dance music of southern Arizona's tribal communities, is often called "chicken scratch." Played at tribal functions, this fun, lively music offers relief from the hardships of reservation life. Waila! Making the People Happy explores the history of the music and looks at the Joaquin's, a family of musicians, and their journey from a remote tribal village to performing at Carnegie Hall.

 The Joaquin Brothers play at a 1963 prom at St. John's Indian School, a boarding school in Laveen, just south of Phoenix. The band members (from left) are brothers Daniel Joaquin, Fernando Joaquin and Angelo Joaquin Sr.


History of the Waila

Waila is the O'odham word for dance and refers to the social dance music rooted in the desert of southern Arizona.   Previously known as the Papago or Pima Indians, the O’odham comprise two main groups: Tohono O’odham or Desert People and the Akimel O'odham or River People.  Originating in the south with the Tohono O'odham and thenSaxaphone spreading north to the Akimal O'odham, Waila music is now considered the traditional social dance music of the O'odham. Pronounced why-la, it is a hybrid of popular European polka and waltzes with a variety of Mexican influences mixed in. It originated in the 1800's and comes from the word "baile" which is Spanish for "dance".

Waila bands are made up of an accordion, alto saxophone, electric six-string, bass guitar, and drums and play all-night feasts.  Waila performances traditionally last from sundown to sunup without the musicians repeating a tune.  The music is often performed at weddings, birthdays, feasts and other celebrations.  Dancers move counter-clockwise around the dance floor doing a waila, also known as "chicken scratch".   It began as acoustic Tohono O'odham music and absorbed the influences of German immigrants, Spanish missionaries, and Norteño music.

The dances that accompany this music tradition are also a blend European influence with a Native mix. There are five common styles: 1) the waila, which is like a polka dance, 2) the chote (comes from a folk dance from Scotland or Germany), 3) the mazurka (a Polish folk dance), 4) the watersaw (redowa or redova - a Bohemian dance in three quarter time, an older form) and 5) the newest form, the cumbia (which originates from Colombia but came to the AccordionO'odham via Mexico).  O'odham dance waila in ways that connect with older ceremonial music and dance traditions in addition to long-standing cultural values.  Dancers move with a smooth gliding motion using more of a walking-step instead of the hopping steps associated with vigorous European polka-dancing. The O'odham way seems designed to conserve energy when dancing in the blazing sun or in the lingering evening heat of the desert.

The Cisco Band and the Joaquin Brothers are two legendary bands in the history of Waila. Waila has always been viewed as “traditional” music of the O'odham despite using instrumentation of European origin. Often Waila dances are held in conjunction with ceremonial dances, both finding their proper places at the important gathering of the Tohono O'odham.

The basic rhythmic scheme behind the music is solid and simple. There are no showy flashy improvisational guitar or lead instrument solos just the driving drums, bass and guitar chop behind a lively and simplistic melody often with a close harmony played by the other lead instruments either another saxophone or the accordion.



Shuffle your feet to the beat: Waila!

The Cisco Band
The Joaquin Brothers
Popular Dance Music Of The Natives Of Southern Arizona 


Tracks 1-12 were recorded and originally released in 1975 as Canyon Records LP 
The Cisco Band - Popular Dance Music of the Indians of Southern Arizona.
Francis “Cisco” Enriquez (saxophone), Marvin Enis (accordion and guitar), David Narcho (drums), Frank Joaquin (guitar), and Leroy Martinez (bass Guitar).

01. Mountain Chair (2:27)
02. Where Were You Last Night? (3:43)
03. Love My Life (3:28)
04. Why Not? (3:17)
05. Marsa (3:16)
06. How About Queen's Well? (3:31)
07. Trophy (3:32)    
08. Did You See? (2:42)
09. Felipe (3:24)
10. Who Knows? (4:10)
11. Like It Was (2:21)
12. I Remember (3:21)

Tracks 13-24 were recorded and originally released in 1975 as Canyon Records LP  
The Joaquin Brothers Play Polkas and Chotis.
Daniel Joaquin (saxophone & accordion), Fernando Joaquin (saxophone), Leonard Joaquin (bass Guitar), Angelo Joaquin (guitar) and Jerome Joaquin (guitar).

13. La Pachuca Polka (2:00)
14. Hohokam Choti (2:01)
15. Hohokam Polka (2:45)
16. You Are My Sunshine Polka (2:01)
17. El Changolaso Choti (2:22)
18. Estamos En Texas Polka (2:29)
19. No Sabemos Polka (2:31)
20. El Ebanto Choti (1:42)
21. La Pecosita Polka (2:30)
22. Never On Sunday Polka (2:02)
23. Corazon Corbarde Polka (2:33)
24. La Mañana Choti (2:21)

Total Time: 68:12




 The Cisco Band and the Joaquin Brothers are two legendary bands in the history of Waila, popularly known as "Chicken Scratch". The energetic dance music of the Native peoples of southern Arizona, Waila features the intertwining melodies of saxophone and accordion propelled by the rhythms of guitar, bass and drums. Playing the Polkas and Two-Steps that are hallmarks of the Scratch sound, these two renowned bands exemplify this innovative confluence of music from Tohono O'odham and European culture.

The third installment in the Canyon Waila Classics series. Features the digitally remastered debut recordings from two of Waila's most legendary bands. Shuffle your feet to the beat of the Joaquin Brothers' You Are My Sunshine Polka.

 The Origins Of Waila

Written by Jamison Mahto, Spirit Bear Productions
Tonight I ride with Canyon Records release of The Origins of Waila loaded to the I-pod and it’s perfect for the ride through downtown as Hennepin Avenue is an ocean of motion. A river of people on the street looking for the dream that lies hidden in the yearning eyes of the street corner preachers and poets on a Saturday night and I’m riding toward the light of the dance hall for a night full of legendary flirtations and mythical surprise. And I think of Sandy.

The Cisco Band and the Joaquin Brothers are two legendary bands in the history of Waila, popularly known as ‘Chicken Scratch’. The energetic dance music of the Native peoples of southern Arizona.

Waila has always been viewed as “traditional” music of the Tohono O'odham despite using instrumentation of European origin. Often Waila dances are held in conjunction with ceremonial dances, both finding their proper places at the important gathering of the Tohono O'odham.

The first half of this CD features 12 lively and up-tempo songs by The Cisco Band consisting of Francis “Cisco” Enriquez (saxophone), Marvin Enis (accordion and guitar), David Narcho (drums), Frank Joaquin (guitar), and Leroy Martinez (bass Guitar).

The Cisco Band plays a style reminiscent of every polka band that I’ve ever heard, not that I’ve actually listened to that many, but I have some experience with two step waltzing and polka’s from elementary school.

The basic rhythmic scheme behind the music is solid and simple. There are no showy flashy improvisational guitar or lead instrument solos just the driving drums bass and guitar chop behind a lively and again simplistic melody often with a close harmony played by the other lead instruments either another saxophone or the accordion. The norteno influence is clearly evident.

The second half of the CD is 12 songs by The Joaquin Brothers featuring Daniel Joaquin (saxophone & accordion) Fernando Joaquin (saxophone), Leonard Joaquin (bass Guitar), Angelo Joaquin (guitar) and Jerome Joaquin (guitar).

There seems to be a closer connection with the Norteno style of music in this band’s material and it sounds more traditional as indicated by the fact that most of the titles are in Spanish slang lingo.

Two songs, Hohokam Choti and Hohokam Polka, refer to an ancient paleo-Indian culture. Hohokam (ho-ho-KAHM) is one of the four major prehistoric archaeological traditions of what is now the American Southwest. Hohokam is a Pima (O’odham) word used by archaeologists to identify a group of people that lived in the Sonoran Desert of North America.  The two saxophones trade licks on the verses, play harmony on the choruses.

There is nothing maudlin or grief-stricken about this music. This is a real good time. I never thought I would listen to Polka and like it. It must be a sign that I'm getting older. This is back in the day when things were simpler. This sound is the sound of home and I ride with it in my head and my heart. Now if only my legs would cooperate.

Sandy loved to schottische. Oh she knew how to polka waltz and mazurka but the schottische was Sandy’s move.  Sometimes we go in a horrible stupid accident or degenerative debilitating disease, yet the end is always sudden.  The thing that I understand is that there are lots of polka bands and they don’t do no ballet in heaven and Sandy schottisches around in the clouds right now with the fire still burning brightly behind those eyes and a smile. Hey, Sandy save the next one for me.

 and get your own copy:



Everybody dance now: ¡Waila!

The American Indians
Play Waila 


Tracks 1-12 were recorded and originally released in 1974 as Canyon Records LP "The American Indians Play Chicken Scratch", C -6120. Performed by: Alex Gomez (sax), Justin Francisco (sax), John Manuel (accordion), Clarence Flores (drums), Celestine Flores (drums), Jerry Flores (guitar), Simon Cruz (bass guitar).

01. Cactus Song (3:42)
02. Coolidge Two-Step (3:39)
03. John Special (2:49)
04. Come Home Tonight (2:38)
05. Pisinimo Polka (2:08)
06. El Capitan (3:03)
07. Palo Verde Stands (2:31)
08. Blackwater Polka (2:53)
09. The Sunset (2:48)
10. San Xavier Polka (2:38)
11. Topawa Two-Step (2:40)
12. Desert Polka (3:21)

Tracks 13-24 were recorded and originally released in 1976 as Canyon Records LP "Waila ­ Social Dance Music: The American Indians Album 2", C-6155. Performed by: John Manuel (accordion), Justin Francisco (alto saxophone), Simon A. Cruz (bass guitar), Jerry Flores (guitar), Clarence Flores (drums), Celestine Flores (drums).

13. Eloy Two-Step (3:19)
14. E.M.C. Two-Step (2:44)
15. Taverna (3:02)
16. Oh My Darling Clementine (2:13)
17. Arrowhead Two-Step (4:03)
18. Fernando Polka (3:02)
19. J's Tune (1:43)
20. Old Timer Two-Step (3:17)
21. Cry Babe (4:15)
22. White Dove Polka (3:45)
23. Song From Way Back (3:17)
24. Coolidge Polka (2:19)


This collection brings together two classic recordings by The American Indians, one of the most innovative bands in the saga of waila, the lively social dance music of southern Arizona's Native peoples. Also known as chicken scratch, waila features the intricately intertwined melodies of saxophone and accordion propelled by the rhythms of guitar, bass, and drums playing polkas, two-steps, and cumbias. While staying true to the traditions of waila, The American Indians played with a highly original flare making them legends of chicken scratch.


The hybrid American Indian musical form known officially as waila and to its friends as chicken scratch combines Latin cumbia rhythms and German-Mexican polkas and two-steps in an irresistible and unique style. This twofer collects many of the best known songs of one of the form's most inventive outfits, the American Indians, whose ingenious interpretations of the genre have made them legendary. - Allmusic


Quick--name several traditional Native American instruments, Drums, flutes, rattles, gourds, even the voices of singers would probably appear on most people's lists. Yet, The American Indians Play Waila, a recent release from Canyon Records, features saxophones, accordions, guitars in its renditions of the traditional Native music of the Southwest. Waila, a popular musical genre among the Native people of Southwest Arizona, reflects the Spanish influence on indigenous residents of the region. With its lively, energetic combination of high-volume sounds, waila inspires listeners to participate in social dances. Polka, Two-Step, and other styles of social dancing blend into fun, when played waila-style. Frequently referred to as Chicken Scratch, waila crosses genres and generation. As a result, waila has gathered fans from a wide variety of age groups, tribal affiliations and dance styles. This cd celebrates the many facets of waila. The American Indians Play Waila shares the talents of these Tohono O'odham (Papago) musicians. The band plays and composes waila tunes, which demonstrate the artists' passion for this music. Standout songs include, Come Home Tonight, Song from Way Back and Old-Timer Two-Step. Dancers will enjoy the variety of two-steps and polkas. These include Arrowhead Two-Step, Desert Polkas, and White Dove Polka. The American Indians Play Waila provides more than an hour of upbeat musical fun, that can be enjoyed by anyone who likes to dance. --By Dawn Karima Pettigrew - Whispering Wind / Issue #257 / Vol 37 #1

The social dance music of the Tohono O'odham reservation in western Arizona - Waila, or Chicken Scratch - owes more to the polkas, schottisches, and mazurkas of Europe and the Norteno music of Mexico, with whom the reservation shares a 60-mile boundary, than to the sounds of Native America. Recorded in the 1970's The American Indians Play Waila, and Waila, featuring tunes by El Conjunto Murrietta, Mike Ennis and Company, Los Papagos Molinas, and Elvin Kelly y Los Reyes, provide an introduction to this accordion-dominated Lawrence Welk-meets-Flaco Jimenez sound. --By CHa - Dirty Linen-Folk & World Music / November 2006

We weren't hip to it at the time, but was Ry Cooder aware of 'chicken scratch' when he named his Chicken Skin band? I wonder. Two great albums recorded by the American Indians group in 1974 and 1976, and reissued here on a single CD as The American Indians Play Waila date from around the same period as Cooder's band. Canyon only recorded their first waila/ chicken scratch album in 1972 although this Tohono O'odham (Papago) social dance form from southern Arizona had been around since the late 19th century. The music has very strong links to the Spanish/ German sounds of border music and Tex-Mex. Originally the bands consisted of fiddles and stringed instruments, but accordeons were soon adopted and by the 1950's, bands were adding saxophone as a lead as well. This is rocking, driving instrumental dance music from a basic line-up of accordeon, sax, electric guitar and bass, and two drummers. The band had an innovation of putting a wah-wah pedal on the accordeon (check tunes like Cry Babe) and the two drummers specialised in different rhythms (chotis and polkas). But this wasn't the Greatful Dead - this was dance music! (But it does have good sleevenotes.) --By Phil Wilson - fRoots - Local Music From Out There / Aug. '08


Everybody dance now: A review of The American Indians Play Waila
News From Indian Country
Quick – name several traditional Native American instruments. Drums, flutes, rattles, gourds, even the voices of singers would probably appear on most people’s lists. Yet, The American Indians Play Waila, a recent release from Canyon Records, features saxophones, accordions, and guitars in its renditions of the traditional Native music of the Southwest.

Waila, a popular musical genre among the Native people of Southwest Arizona, reflects the Spanish influence on Indigenous residents of the region. With its lively, energetic combination of high-volume sounds, waila inspires listeners to participate in social dances. Polka, Two-Step, and other styles of social dancing blend into fun, when played waila-style.

Frequently referred to as “chicken scratch,” waila crosses genres and generations. As a result, waila has gathered fans from a wide variety of age groups, tribal affiliations and dance styles. This CD celebrates the many facets of waila.

The American Indians Play Waila shares the talents of these Tohono O’odham (Papago) musicians. The band plays and composes waila tunes, which demonstrate the artists’ passion for this music.

Standout songs include “Come Home Tonight,” “Song from Way Back,” and “Old-Timer Two-Step.”

Dancers will enjoy the variety of two-steps and polkas. These include “Arrowhead Two-Step,” “Desert Polka,” and “White Dove Polka.” The American Indians Play Waila provides more than an hour of upbeat musical fun, that can be enjoyed by anyone who likes to dance.
by Dawn Karima Pettigrew

and get the CD 


One of the sweetest musics I've been listening to in a long time :-)

Gu-Achi Fiddlers
Old Time 
O'odham Fiddle Music


01. Ali Oidak Polka (3:18)    
02. Bareterro Two-Step(3:03)    
03. Black Mountain Mazurka (3:51)    
04. Blackie Polka (4:05)    
05. Sonora Church Two-Step (4:18)    
06. Hohokam Polka (3:13)    
07. Libby Bird Song Mazurka (4:08)    
08. Memories in Ajo Polka (3:37)    
09. Pinto Beans Two-Step (3:28)    
10. E.J. Special Polka (3:29)    
11. Cababie Two-Step (3:19)    
12. Dawn Mazurka (3:15)

Elliot Johnson - fiddle
Lester Vavages - fiddle
Wilfred Mendoza - guitar
Gerald Leos Senior - snare drum
Tommy Lopez - bass drum



 From Liner Notes:

"This is the first commercial recording of one of Southern Arizona's most unique instrumental traditions - the fiddle band music of the Tohono O'odham ("The Desert People"), formerly known as the Papago. The O'odham fiddle sound is unique in that it is produced by two violins, a guitar, a snare drum and a bass drum playing polkas, two-steps and mazurkas.

Utilizing instruments originally introduced by Spanish missionaries, the fiddle band sound is highly unique utilizing violins, guitar, and drums playing polkas, two-steps, and mazurkas. The result is an exciting sound and one of Southern Arizona's richest musical traditions.

malarz says:

"Many years ago I began my search for just this musical style along with its partner chicken scratch. Found it on cassette and am happy that its been re-released on cd. I truly can saw I love the music, the tunes, the playing, the slightly off-tuning of the violins. Nothing wild nor crazy nor genre-bending but just a wonderful document of a lovely music by musicians who play with an understated and relaxed attitude. Oh yeah, did I say lovely?"


Album Review by Six Water Grog:

I recently happened upon a recording of fiddle-based music called The Gu-Achi Fiddlers, Old Time O'odham Fiddle Music, Volume 1. It is available on Canyon Records, a small label devoted to Native American music. Despite a cover photo which makes it look much older, I believe this music was recorded in the 1980’s so the audio quality is much better than one might expect.

The Gu-Achi Fiddlers hailed from the Southern Arizona town of Gu-Achi in the Sonora desert. They belonged to the Tohono O'odham Nation, formerly known as the Papago. They were led by two fiddlers, Elliot Johnson and Lester Vavages, and backed up by Gerald Leos Sr. (snare drum), Tommy Lopez (bass drum) and Wilfred Mendoza (guitar). All of those guys play on this release.

The music here is a melting pot of Native American, Mexican and European styles: schottisches, polkas, two-steps and mazurkas filtered through the indigenous melodies of the O'odham. The fiddle tradition of Southern Arizona dates back to the days of Spanish colonization, when Catholic missionaries introduced the Native American Papagos to their European instruments and tunes. The Papagos quickly adopted the instruments and absorbed the rhythms, giving birth to a form of old-time fiddle music that is uniquely Southwestern, a tradition that has survived until today.

There is a refreshingly un-polished energy to this “scratchy” and slightly out of tune music...the players rely more on attitude and enthusiasm than any sort of technical virtuosity. It turns out this is a style of music I had been wanting to hear, I just didn’t know it until I heard it! Not quite polka in the German sense, not quite Mexican, and definitely not the same as old-time Appalachian fiddle music. I encourage anyone with an interest in traditional or indigenous music to check this out. It’s guaranteed to put you in good spirits! (If you are a musician try playing some of these tunes - you'll love 'em!)


Alicia Karen Elkins writes:

Old Time O'odham Fiddle Music is the first commercial recording of the fiddle music of this Southern Arizona tribe, the Tohono O'odham ("The Desert People"), who were formerly known as the Papago. It was originally released on cassette in 1988, but this is the first time it has been released on CD. If you like fiddle music, order a copy right away!

Catholic Spanish missionaries first taught these Native Americans to play European instruments so they could perform at mass. The Papagos quickly incorporated the instruments into all their music. The music here is produced with two fiddles, one guitar, a snare drum and a bass drum.

In the mid-1800s, new dances and rhythms made their way to the Tohono O'odham. Among them were the polka, mazurka, schottische and quadrille. Some communities added the native traditional melodies for the Pascola and the Matachines, ritual dances of the Yaqui of the Sonora, Mexico region. The European dances and rhythms were undergoing radical changes in the hands of the indigenous peoples.

Over time, the fiddle music began to die away. Fewer and fewer young people cared to learn the art. But in 1984, a new contest started, the All O'odham Fiddle Orchestra Contest. Interest in this lost art was renewed and it has been making a slow comeback. There is a strong effort to preserve this historical music style for future generations.

The Gu-Achi Fiddlers are named after the town of Gu-Achi in Southern Arizona where they reside. The band is Gerald Leos Sr. (snare drum), Lester Vavages (fiddle), Tommy Lopez (bass drum), Wilfred Mendoza (guitar) and Elliot Johnson (fiddle).

Selections on this CD include "Ali Oidak Polka," "Bareterro Two-Step," "Black Mountain Mazurka," "Blackie Polka," "Sonora Church Two-Step," "Hohokam Polka," "Libby Bird Song Mazurka," "Pinto Beans Two-Step," "Cababie Two-Step" and "Dawn Mazurka."

Every tune on this CD is a knockout! 

It had me on my feet dancing during the first few measures and kept me moving through every tune. It is beautiful music with a fast beat and lots of lively movement. It is distinctly Spanish in origin, but with characteristics of its own. This is fiddling at its best. There is no way to select a favorite from these tunes. All are fabulous dance pieces!

This is a must-have for any Native American music collection. It is a unique sound that will quickly embed itself in any fiddle lover's heart!


Shlomo Pestcoe writes:

The Tohono O’odham are the largest Amerindian nation in the state of Arizona. Tohono O’odham  means “Desert People” in the Uto-Aztecan language of the O’odham, a reference to their homeland in the Sonoran Desert regions of southern Arizona and the northern Mexican state of Sonora. They were dubbed the Papago (Papahvi-o-otam, literally, “Bean People” in the language of the neighboring Akimel O’odham [Pima] who are closely related to the Tohono O’odham) by Father Eusebio Francisco Kino (1645-1711), the famed Jesuit missionary/cartographer/astronomer/explorer, who established the first missions in the region in 1686. In 1986, the tribal government legally replaced the sobriquet “Papago Indians” — long considered to be derogatory– with the term Tohono O’odham as the official name for this First Nation.

The O’odham fiddle tradition of stretches back to the earliest days of Spanish colonization. Catholic missionaries introduced European string instruments into the region for use in church services.

In the mid-19th century, Tohono O’odham fiddlers picked up the latest “pop” dance music forms to come over from Europe– the waltz, polka, mazurka, etc.– and adapted them to fit their musical culture. The music they created was dubbed “waila,” (pronounced “wy-lah”) which comes from the Spanish word baile (lit. “dance”).

Waila fiddle bands provided the music for religious festivals, community celebrations and social dancing until the 1950s, when the fiddle was overshadowed by the button accordion and saxophone.  This was result of the pervasive influence of norteño music from Northern Mexico, in which the 3-row diatonic button accordion and the alto sax are the main lead instruments. A new O’odham style featuring those instruments emerged called chicken scratch, a reference to a traditional Tohono O’odham dance in which dancers kick their heels high in the air like chickens scratching. Today, the terms waila and chicken scratch are interchangeable and are both synonymous for contemporary O’odham vernacular social dance music.

read Rod Stradling  

and nothing left for me to say but:
listen, listen
and get your copy


if I say sweet I'm talking about mountain honey and not white sugar ;-)


On peut dire: Ils sont les meilleurs...

Femmes de Marins


01. Femmes de Marins - 3'00
02. An Titanic - 2'26
03. Le vieux de la vieille - 2'49
04. Ceux qu'on nommé les bancs - 2'40
05. War bont an Naoned - 4'14
06. L'adieu aux filles - 3'43
07. Etre Keraroz ha Kerguz (suite de Laridés) - 3'02
08. Le garçon marinier - 2'29
09. Ex-gréement - 3'23
10. La chasse au loup marin - 4'07
11. Belle étoile du Nord - 1'51
12. Nova Scotia farewell - 3'02
13. Le Reste-à-Terre - 3'55


Un disque marquant paru en 1997, alors que Cabestan était un des acteurs du renouveau du chant de marins. C'est devenu un classique du genre.

Dans ce CD d'inspiration très bretonne qui mélange le traditionnel et les compositions ou adaptations, on trouve l'empreinte du Québec avec la participation de Bernard Simard dont la voix et le jeu de guitare transforment une chanson comme l'adieu aux filles en véritable bijou, et un grand classique comme le vieux de la vieille

Les autres musiciens qui ont participé à cet enregistrment sont Christian Desnos (voix, accordéon diatonique), Jean-Luc Creac'h (voix, guitare, basse), Arnaud Maisonneuve (voix, guitare), Thierry Moreau (voix, veuze, violon, violoncelle). Autres chansons de ce disque qui ont eu du succès et son souvent reprises, le reste à terre déjà chroniquée dans ce blog il y a quelques temps, et femmes de marins.


Femmes de marins

On les app'lait femmes de chagrins
Du temps de leurs grand-mères
Aujourd'hui gronde la colère
Des femmes de marins

Il y'eut le temps des femmes soumises
Élevant leur famille, lonla,
Élevant leur famille (bis)
Qui attendaient, tristes, indécises
Le retour du navire, lonla,
Le retour du navire (bis)

Puis vinrent les conserveries
Le travail à la chaîne, lonla,
Le travail à la chaîne (bis)
Il fallait pour gagner sa vie
Ne pas pleurer sa peine, lonla,
Ne pas pleurer sa peine (bis)

Quand arrivèrent les machines
Et les temps de chômage, lonla,
Et les temps de chômage (bis)
Elles firent grève dans les usines
déjà femmes de courage, lonla,
Déjà femmes de courage (bis)

Maint'nant quand les hommes sont en mer
Elles s'occupent des affaires, lonla,
Elles s'occupent des affaires (bis)
Pour affronter les C.R.S.
elles n'sont pas les dernières, lonla,
elles n'sont pas les dernières (bis)


Folk Roots #47 - May 1987:
Right from their first record this group has been outstanding in their presentation of French and Breton shanties and sea songs. The group, formed from a co-operative known as Chasse-Maree, consisted at the time of Arnaud Maissonneuve, Benoit Chantran, Bernard Subert, Christian Desnos and the group's leader and driving force, Michel Colleu, who has collected the majority of the material used - songs and tunes from the rich maritime heritage extant around the coast of Britanny. Fiddle, flute, concertina and guitar along with a melodeon (in this case, Christian uses an almost straight tuning to great effect) are often used as accompaniment, and all are excellent musicians as well as fine singers. Bombardes and hurdy-gurdies are unlikely instruments to hear backing sea songs, but in the hands of the French they blend perfectly with their style of singing - and what a style! Whatever Cabestan do, the maxim seems to be that effort and a feeling for the material are essential.
Their precision and spirited renderings make them a joyful listening experience, even if you can’t understand French, because you can feel the 'working power' of the songs...
... I can do no more than say that Cabestan are by far the best sea songsters I have ever heard...
 un cabestan : )


The coast line of Brittany is equivalent to one fourth of that of all France, and Bretons have played a dominant role in European maritime history. At the end of the 15th century Brittany had a fleet of 1,800 to 2,000 ships and approximately 20,000 sailors (of a population of some one million). Fishing, shipping and service in the navy remain important occupations in Brittany. While the modernization of maritime industries has effectively eliminated the continuation of a work song tradition among sailors and fishermen, the transmission of song about the life related to the seas continue to be a part of Brittany's oral tradition on land. These relate maritime history--storms at sea, ship wrecks, naval battles, piracy--and speak of the hard life of fishermen and sailors and their long separation from family and loved ones.

An organization which has been active in researching and documenting maritime traditions of Brittany is Le Chasse-Maree. From collection with sailors and fishermen now in their 80s and 90s, young performers have been able to recreate maritime work songs for raising sails and anchors, turning capstans, rowing from ship to shore, or hauling boats into harbors. Also documented is the use of musical instruments on board ships--including fiddles, hurdy-gurdies, accordions and more rarely bagpipes--and the presence of Breton dances such as the laride and rond.


BB King

May we say: simply the best...

Danny Spooner
The Great Leviathan
Songs of the Whaling Industry


01. The Whale Catchers (Trad.) - 1:35
02. The Weary Whaling Grounds (Trad.) - 2:36
03. The Coast of Peru (Trad.) - 2:35
04. Talcahuano Girls (Trad.) - 2:38
05. Rolling Down To Old Maui (Trad.) - 3:58
06. Pique La Baleine (Trad.) - 3:43
07. The Wounded Whale (Trad./Archie Fisher) - 4:40
08. The Whaleman's Lament (Trad.) - 2:22
09. The Waterwitch (Trad.) - 2:40
10. The Loss of Mahoney (Trad.) - 2:43
11. Davy Lowston (Trad.) - 3:17
12. Queensland Whalers (Harry Robertson) - 3:50
13. The Wee Pot Stove (Harry Robertson) - 4:49
14. Ballina Whalers (Harry Robertson) - 4:01
15. The Last Of The Great Whales (Andy Barnes) - 4:14


Danny Spooner - vocals, English concertina, guitar

Duncan Brown - vocals
Pam Connell - button accordion




The Great Leviathan - Songs of the Whaling Industry

Released in 2006, Danny Spooner's The Great Leviathan - Songs of the Whaling Industry is this outstanding folk singers latest album. A wonderful collection of whaling songs, The Great Leviathan is perhaps the best argument against the evil that is whaling in modern times, and with this album Spooner firmly adds his booming voice to the calls to finally cease this appalling, tragic evil.

Danny Spooner's usual outstanding ability to tell a gripping story through his songs and his marvelous, sensitive renditions provide the vessel that carries this message to us so effectively.

These whaling songs span the early 17th to the 20th centuries and range from all over the anglophone world, with one French song also included. Most are traditional, but there are also some fine examples from the 20th century whaler Harry Robertson, and the album closes with a deeply sad song written in 1989 by Englishman Andy Barnes who has a stark warning for us all that it isn't only the whale that we endanger but indeed, ourselves. Danny Spooner poses, in the context of this song in his superb sleeve notes, "When will we realise that this little planet of ours has finite resources." We certainly seem to manage to pay plenty of lip service to this problem. But, as a society, are we really ever actually doing anything about it, or others equally pressing such as climate change? Of course not... Not happening. Unlikely to ever happen, at least, until it's far too late. And thus we are headed the same way as the great leviathan and all the countless other species whose extinction we are responsible for.

But Danny Spooner's The Great Leviathan has many other sub-texts as well. His stated purpose also was to acknowledge that there was a time when whaling contributed to the well-being of many people, and further to remember those tough whale men of old who, in their struggle to make a living, pitted themselves against an "adversary" who at least still had a chance. This, however, no longer applies. Modern whaling leaves the whale no chance of survival. Nor is there the slightest justification for whaling in modern times, for nothing that the whale provides cannot be produced synthetically or by other means, and far more efficiently at that. All that is left perhaps, is the greed, the lust for the taste of whale meat.

The Great Leviathan is undoubtedly the saddest of Danny Spooner's albums yet, in its subject matter and emotional context. But it is nonetheless also glorious, as any of his albums. Spooner's wonderful strong voice is a joy, as is his English concertina especially. He is also very ably assisted on some of the tracks by the additional vocals of Duncan Brown and Pam Connell's wonderful button accordion. Listening to this album, or indeed any of Danny Spooner's other albums, is a bit like watching a movie. But the pictures are so much better! Spooner, as is customary for him, provides a complete listening experience that is exceptional.

Danny Spooner's The Great Leviathan - Songs of the Whaling Industry is a hugely enjoyable gem of an album, utterly compelling and consistent, and completely enchanting. It is beyond essential in any collection of anglophone folk song, and particularly also any collection of songs associated with the sea.

© 2006 Rainlore's World of Music
 Danny Spooner is a traditional folk singer and social historian. Born in England, he left school at the age of 13 and worked as a salvage tug and trawler skipper before moving to Australia in 1962. He rapidly became involved in the Melbourne folk revival centred on Frank Traynor's folk club, and has been a major figure in the Australian folk scene ever since...
 don't forget to visit Danny Spooner's site
may I say he is the Best :-)