Cesar Castro

Mexican son jarocho

Master artist Cesar Castro (right) and his 2011 apprentice Xochi Flores dancing on the tarima (Photo courtesy of Xochi Flores)Son jarocho is a musical tradition originating in the rural communities of Veracruz, Mexico.  At its core is a celebration called el fandango, an all-night event centered around a tarima, or wooden platform, on which dancers stomp out rhythms while musicians play small guitars called jaranas and sing improvised verses.  The fandango encourages participation of everyone: young, old, experienced, and novice.  The interaction between dancer, singer, and musician generates a spirit of la convivencia, or being together and engaged.  Using the fandango concept, musicians and community workers in Veracruz have taken son jarocho across the border into Chicano communities in Los Angeles and beyond.

Cesar Castro began his son jarocho training at the age of thirteen when he enrolled in an afterschool jarana class at his middle school.  He studied with master harpist Andres Alfonso Vergara and later Gilberto Gutierrez of Grupo Mono Blanco, with whom Cesar performed and toured for eleven years.  Cesar has over 20 years of experience as a multi-instrumentalist, singer, dancer, and an accomplished laudero (luthier), who constructs instruments of the son jarocho tradition.

As a current master artist in ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program, Cesar will work with apprentice Luis Sarmiento, training him in the art of lauderia (instrument making), focusing on constructing a jarana.

Cesar participated in ACTA's Apprenticeship Program in 2011 with apprentice Xochi Flores, focusing on increasing Xochi’s skills in zapateado, son jarocho's dance element, and playing the jarana.

The following video features Cesar Castro (left) and Quetzal Flores playing son jarocho at Occidental College in February 2012.


Click on any image to view slideshow.

 Cesar Castro with instruments of his own construction (Photo courtesy of Cesar Castro)
Cesar Castro on the guitarra de son or requinto (Photo: Quetzal Flores)

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