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Home | Tag Archives: Frontera Bugalu

Tag Archives: Frontera Bugalu

Bianca’s Borderland Beat: Singing (and loving) the Light Fantastic

A .46-second blink of an eye will yield a “U.S.-Mexico border” search result list that ranges from desperate migrant children in squalid detention conditions, 154 pounds of prohibited bologna, Homeland Security lawsuits, and second to last, a thumbnail glimpse of light beams at the end of the national media tunnel vision.

That thumbnail was an invincible resistance that danced across the night sky above the Rio Grande, dismantling the dark and stubborn wall of border bigotry and crisis with art, music, and 600 hours of recorded conversations between international strangers on the El Paso-Juarez border.

In an inventive form of artistic exchange via light beams, microphones and speakers, Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer exhibited his coexisting Border Tuner installations at El Paso’s Bowie High school and Ciudad Juarez’ Parque Chamizal.

The project mingled light and sound signals in a poetic twist that crushed existing border stigmas with the purity of human interaction.

During the multi-day series of activations and forums, groups of artists, community leaders and residents from both sides gathered to express cultural bonds and ignite instant friendships on a border soil fertile in kinship and good will.

For many, the experience was new and creatively adventurous.

But for some, like Frontera Bugalu band frontman Kiko Rodriguez, the project evoked a dormant nostalgia, awakened by memories of cross-border oneness, free of restrictive policies.

“Back then we used to cross the bridge with our instruments and we used to play with [Sonido Cachimbo,]” Rodriguez said. “There was way more interaction going on with all the musicians, all the artists, all the sculptors. Since the new policies started, everything’s just died.”

Frontera Bugalu, founded in El Paso, shared the Border Tuner stage with Juarez band Sonido Cachimbo. Each group proudly ping-ponged musical messages on border culture between a split speaker system and audience separated by the borderland’s scar of steel fencing.

“This was symbolic because now, after years of nobody talking to each other and nobody being able to work together that way, we got to do it tonight,” Rodriguez reflected. “It had to be done superficially through the lights, but I think people should know that it’s how the border used to be and that’s why it impacted me. We’re losing a lot by closing off that dialogue whether its artistically or musically.”

It was Lozano-Hemmer’s early fascination with the cultural and artistic activity of the U.S. Mexico border that helped lay the groundwork for works like Border Tuner in recent years.

As a Mexico City native who immigrated to Canada, his binational identity naturally spurred a heightened awareness of the crises he witnessed on the border.

“I knew that I wanted to do something in light of this administration’s adversarial narrative about Mexican migrants,” he said, further elaborating on how the platform was meant to encourage listening to other realities that existed in the same territory.

“What I like about the lights is they ignore the wall, they dwarf it,” he said. “It’s a tiny little piece of band aid. Walls come down. Projects like this help.”

The symbiotic sisterhood between El Paso and Juarez helped lock in Lozano-Hemmer’s decision to house Border Tuner in the southwest.

That, along with the talent of art curator Kerry Doyle. Doyle is the Director at Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for Visual Arts at the University of Texas at El Paso, who he credits with the diversity of the series’ activations and activities. She was joined by Leon De la Rosa and programming director Edgar Picazo during the 12-day focus on the flow of the border spirit.

In the 600 hours of documented audio, human beings laughed, cried and even spontaneously batted lashes via light beams in flirtatious engagements during literal blind dates. Border Tuner was an emotional ‘bipolar project’ that reconciled a territory in its natural social habitat.

“Projects like this alert them to the fact that this shared humanity is continuing and that this stupid wall will only try to stop bodies,” he said. “More than anything it’s just a power performance by an extinct nationalist regime that is on its last kick. The future is café con leche baby.”

To learn more about the future of Border Tuner, visit their website for updates.

Border Tuner launches website, program of daily activations

Border Tuner, the large-scale light and sound artwork that will connect El Paso and Ciudad Juárez in November, officially launched its public website this week and announced a program of performances, talks and activities.

The website gives information on local programing as well as a guide on how anyone can participate in this free public project over 12 nights.

The installation will depend on community voices to take the spotlight, interact, collaborate and give life to the project.

Beginning on Wednesday, November 13, Border Tuner will kick off the installation every night with 30 minutes focused on curated programming by a diverse group of voices from the Borderland.

Each day a select group of artists, writers, poets, indigenous voices, musicians, will open this public platform by sharing their art and voices with the community.

Confirmed participants include Batallones Femeninos, Adelitas Fronterizas, Orquesta Sinfónica Esperanza Azteca, Cassandro el Exótico, Sonido Cachimbo, Frontera Bugalú, Las Platicadoras and many others.

Following this initial activation the public from both sides of the border is invited to participate in the installation, open-mike style, and connect with participants on the other side of the border to light up the skies nightly.

Concurrent to this, a forum tent will showcase talks including Julio César Morales from Arizona State University, Serio Raúl Arroyo from UNAM, and Tina Rivers Ryan from the Albright Knox Gallery Museum.

For those who would like to participate but cannot be present, the public can send their voice through the virtual switchboard on the new Border Tuner website.

Border Tuner seeks to include reflections, thoughts, conversations and border stories to create a diverse and lively dialogue.

The importance of the community’s voice is vital as the project’s main purpose. Border Tuner aims to create conversations and highlight the ongoing communication, interaction and interdependence takes place between residents of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Border Tuner is curated by Kerry Doyle and León de la Rosa, with programming direction by Edgar Picazo. The project is organized by the Rubin Center at UTEP, El Paso Community Foundation and Fundación Comunitaria de la Frontera Norte.

It receives support from the Mellon Foundation, Arte Abierto, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Via Art Foundation and Novamex.

The interactive art installation will highlight the complex and important connections between Ciudad Juárez and El Paso through a series of nightly conversations and performances that involve residents from both sides of the border and beyond.

Born in Mexico City, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer is one of the most acclaimed artists working in public space. He is known for creating interactive installations that are at the intersection of architecture and performance art. Lozano-Hemmer’s art focuses on creating platforms for public participation.

His large-scale interactive installations have been commissioned for events such as the Millennium Celebrations in Mexico City (1999), the Cultural Capital of Europe in Rotterdam (2001), the UN World Summit of Cities in Lyon (2003), the Winter Olympics in Vancouver (2010) and the pre-opening exhibition of the Guggenheim in Abu Dhabi (2015).

Lozano-Hemmer was recently the subject of solo exhibitions at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the MUAC Museum in Mexico City and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney. He was the first artist to represent Mexico at the Venice Biennale with a solo exhibition at Palazzo Soranzo Van Axel in 2007.

To view the schedule of programmed activities click here,  to send your own voice message click here.

Sparta Headlines ‘El Paso Forever’ with Frontera Bugalu, Nalgadas Tuesday Night

It’s not everyday that a board member of a major community foundation headlines a big outdoor benefit concert. Then again, Jim Ward is not your average board member.

Jim will lead his internationally known band Sparta in the much-anticipated El Paso Forever concert — a benefit for the El Paso Community Foundation — at 7 p.m. Tuesday, November 20 outside on Oregon Street, between the Mills Building and San Jacinto Plaza.

Frequent Sparta tour mates Frontera Bugalu and Nalgadas, both highly regarded El Paso bands, will open the show.

Jim, in case you didn’t know, is on the board of the El Paso Community Foundation, whose motto is “For Good. For El Paso. Forever.”

When Sparta reconvened last year after a four-year break, it kicked off nearly a year’s worth of touring with a benefit for EPCF. Tuesday’s show bookends those 11 months of shows by the band, which includes bassist Matt Miller, guitarist Gabriel Gonzalez and drummer Cully Symington.

Admission is a $10 donation at the door, or you may donate in advance online (just print out your receipt).

All proceeds go to the El Paso Community Foundation, which will use the funds to update classrooms in the Borderplex region with computer labs. Additional donations also will be accepted during the show.

The El Paso Forever concert is generously sponsored by Microsoft TechSpark, a national civic program designed to expand economic opportunity and job creation through digital initiatives, including computer science education programs.

Sparta to Headline ‘El Paso Forever’ Benefit Concert November 20

Sparta fans will have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving week when the El Paso band headlines the El Paso Forever benefit concert at 7 p.m. Tuesday, November 20 on Oregon Street.

The concert is a fundraiser for the El Paso Community Foundation, whose motto is “For Good. For El Paso. Forever.”

Tickets are a $10 donation at the door, or in advance online (just print out your tickets). All proceeds go to the El Paso Community Foundation, which will use the funds to update classrooms in the Borderplex region with computer labs.

Donations also will be accepted during the show.

The benefit concert will take place next to San Jacinto Plaza, between Mills and Main streets, where the Plaza Classic Film Festival outdoor movies are shown.

The El Paso Forever benefit for the El Paso Community Foundation is the finale of a seven-city, eight-day Southern tour for Sparta, which reunited to play a benefit for EPCF last December and has toured throughout 2018.

Members are singer-guitarist Jim Ward, a member of the El Paso Community Foundation board of directors; multi-instrumentalist Gabriel Gonzalez; bassist Matt Miller; and drummer Cully Symington. Sparta recently released the single, Cat Scream.

“It brings me absolute joy to bookend this year of Sparta shows around the US, not only at home, but to benefit the El Paso Community Foundation,” Ward said. “Pitching in a little and having a good night, outside in downtown, is perfect. It’s home.”

It is generously sponsored by Microsoft TechSpark, a national civic program designed to expand economic opportunity and job creation through digital initiatives, including computer science education programs.

“We’re proud to partner with the El Paso Community Foundation on this event to bring everyone together for some fun, and to help ensure that our region’s students have the technology and opportunity to study computer science, one of the fastest- growing job fields today,” said J.J. Childress, manager of Microsoft TechSpark Texas.

El Paso nueva cumbia band Frontera Bugalu and garage rockers Nalgadas also will perform.

Chalk the Block Announces Line Up and Artists

The City of El Paso Museums and Cultural Affairs Department (MCAD) has revealed the line-up for this year’s Chalk the Block Festival.

“Ten years ago, we started with 12 artists and 5,000 people attending. We have steadily grown to include more than 200 artists, vendors and musicians and installations from around the world,” said Assistant Director of Museums Cultural Affairs Department Ben Fyffe. “This year’s festival will bring new and exciting guest artists and continue the high quality entertainment we have come to expect from Chalk the Block.”

Every October, the streets of Downtown El Paso become canvasses for artists to display their chalk masterpieces at Chalk the Block. This year the festival will be held during the weekend of October 6 through October 8 in the heart of the Downtown Arts District.

This year, CTB will engage attendees with installations created by artists from around the nation.

⦁ Wish Tree: Yoko Ono – New York based Tokyo artist ⦁ Wish Tree is an ongoing interactive art project where visitors are invited to tie wishes on trees. After the festival, all the wishes that were collected will be sent to the Imagine Peace Tower on Viðey Island in Reykjavík, Iceland. Imagine Peace Tower is composed of a tall shimmering tower of light that appears every year and is visible from October 9th (John’s birthday) until December 8th (the anniversary of his death).

⦁ Spheres of Influence: Curime Batliner and Jake Newsum – Los Angeles ⦁ Created by Curime Batliner and Jake Newsum for the for the Mextropoli Festival in Mexico City, Spheres of Influence is part installation and part live performance that uses a robotic system from Staubli to paint layers of graphics (abstracted from the city) onto a series of human-scale spheres. The spheres are painted throughout the festival demonstrating how technology can transform a public space.

⦁ Life Cube: Scott Cohen – New York ⦁ The Life Cube Project creates large-scale, engaging, interactive and ephemeral installations connecting art and community, and inspiring the expression of goals, dreams, wishes and aspirations. The project encourages participants to look at their past, engage in the present and set goals for the future.  Over the past five years in multiple venues, the Life Cube has inspired over a hundred thousand people through aesthetic, interactive cultural installations based on the artist’s belief that “if you write down what you want to accomplish in life, the chances of attaining it are much, much higher.”

⦁ Cycle Sonic: Squonk Opera – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ⦁ Composer Jackie Dempsey and artist Steve O’Hearn work with an ensemble of 10-20 artists to create post-industrial performances with original music, design, and staging, outside the rules of mass culture, fashion or academia. Giant, animated bikers circle the audience, with backdrops of undulating flags and 20-foot legs pumping with the rhythm of sustainable power. With no carbon footprint, Cycle Sonic combines the thrill of a live concert with the world of everyday transit.

⦁ Sun Metro Bus – Art on the Move: Curated by Kalavera Culture Shop ⦁ For the festival’s 10th anniversary, Chalk the Block and Sun Metro are joining forces to create a piece of movable art. During the festival, local street artists will paint one of Sun Metro’s 35-foot busses. After the festival, the bus will be added to one of Sun Metro’s existing routes for a period. Art on the Move was a featured installation at Chalk the Block 5, and it is returning for the festival’s 10th anniversary.

Festival visitors will also be able to enjoy live music throughout the day on Saturday from some of the area’s best local musicians. DJs will also be spinning throughout the weekend.

  • Brandon Bailey Johnson
  • Gila Monster
  • Sonido Cachimbo
  • Sha’Vonne
  • Fixed Idea
  • Frontera Bugalu

Chalk the Block is a collaborative event organized by the City of El Paso Museums & Cultural Affairs Department and the El Paso Community Foundation and sponsored by the Rudolph family of dealerships.

This year’s festival is also supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The festival will be open Friday, October 6, from 6 – 10 p.m.; Saturday, October 7, 10 a.m. -10 p.m.; and Sunday, October 8, from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Visitors to the festival will be able to access a complete event guide on the Visit El Paso app. The app can be downloaded at For more information, click Chalk the Block or call 212-0110.

Bianca’s Borderland Beat: Top Three Street Fest Moments -Story+Gallery

Refrigerated air may have seduced many El Pasoans during the menacing weekend forecasts, but Downtown Street Fest organizers remained unfazed, and the rock ‘n’ roll die-hards swept the streets of Downtown El Paso glaring down the uninvited triple-digit guest.

Headliners this year included Papa Roach, Alice Cooper, Jackyl, Dokken, Starset and In This Moment, a headbanging medley guaranteed to leave sore all necks involved. Two stages glorified local acts with genres ranging from Americana-Folk singer Emily Davis to Latino favorites Frontera Bugalu.

The traditional air-conditioned Custom Car Show brought boasted some new, glossy additions, and the indoor stroll through the Convention Center was a sure recalibration of body temperatures for sticky guests.

The Street Fest is a familiar downtown El Paso excursion, but a few 2017 standouts reinforced my annual desire to return to see how organizers are keeping the party fresh.

The live art concept has become a staple in El Paso’s festival and block party planning, but during Street Fest, a whopping 220 feet of mural space took the cake for one of the most impressive live art installations I’ve seen to date.

Los Visionarios’ artistic army returned to the Downtown Street Fest with an arsenal of artists, paint cans, rollers, brushes and palettes to create what may be perceived as an artistic chronology of border culture, while managing to portray the artists’ evolution of collective growth.

The mural, located on the north side of the convention center, is still freely accessible, and photos are encouraged to preserve the memorable masterpiece.

All of the local band selections for Street Fest boast extreme talent, impressive stage presence and memorable audience engagement. One band however, does deserve a mention for refreshing and awakening all the overheated, lazy dance bones in the body.

Frontera Bugalu, shaking dance floors since 2011, emanates the spirit of El Paso with that hypnotizes all shoulders and hips in the vicinity.
Listen to their latest release here.  Upcoming gigs (recommended) can be found here.

Though the eardrums are still recovering, nothing beats watching a 69-year-old rocker in smeared black eyeliner wearing a cape. From the pyrotechnic theatrics to baton-swinging demands to hype the audience and even sacrificed plastic baby dolls decorating the back line, Alice Cooper is the creepiest of cool.

The rebellious, respected rocker laughs age in the face and delivers an energy capable of summoning a storm. Literally. Rain poured and scattered crowds, only for the show to get louder and the fanatics to head-bang harder.

Thunder, bass, rain and even a giant Frankenstein prop made it true rock-n-roll.

Til next time, Downtown Street Fest!

Frontera Bugalu to host Album Release show Friday Night

Friday, May 6th at Tricky Falls (209 S. El Paso Street), be among the first to hear the new music from the revitalized Frontera Bugalu at their Alma de Jaguar album release show.

Written and arranged in small studios in El Paso, Texas, Frontera Bugalu’s second album features new sounds and fresh takes on its traditional Latin format.

The album was composed and arranged by accordionist/singer Kiko Rodriguez, DJ Birth DFX, and pianist Joel Osvaldo, and features prominent musicians in the Latin American music community from California, New Mexico, and Texas, including Tania Rodriguez, of Fuga, who guests on backing vocals, as well as a being featured as lead vocalist on one of the most innovative tracks, Jornalero.

Alma de Jaguar retains the band’s signature sound of alternative cumbia with Caribbean and mambo influences, but stretches them into a new direction that marks an evolution in the border band’s music while continuing to pursue signature themes of immigration, revolution, environmentalism, and more.

Alma de Jaguar is an encapsulation of the diaspora of Latin music in the southwest, and the music stays true to its origins: a unique, tasteful homage to the intricacies of the traditional musical styles of the Américas.

Doors open at 8pm, and the show starts at 9pm with a special opening set by Jim Ward and Birth DFX.

Copies of the limited edition first pressing of the album will be on sale at the concert, and tickets to the event are just $10.00, available in advance at or at the door on the night of the show.

Frontera Bugalu

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