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BOOKS & THE CULTURE The River, the Rain, and the Ocean Hinojosa, Chiwesh Baca and the Myriad Sounds of Water BY LOUIS DUBOSE Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon 114111ish Hinojosa has covered a lot of ground artistically and geographically since she left San Antonio for Northern New Mexico, moved on “From Taos to Tennessee,” then returned home to Texas. She has shuffled through country dancehalls with songs like “The Real West,” performed in Korea, where “iit DOnde Voy?” a haunting, Spanish account of a young man’s flight from the Border Patrol inexplicably went platinum. She has followed Don Americo Paredes through as beautiful and evocative a collection of border ballads ever put into one package, in Frontejas. And most recently, she has pursued Frida Kahlo, Sor Juana de la Cruz, and Octavio Paz into a Mexican labyrinth that resulted in the artistically daring Sonar del Laberinto. “There’s always a river song in my work,” she told an audience at the Aladdin Theater in Portland. That river is often the muddy Rio Grande the official border between Texas and Mexico. Three years ago she climbed on a bus with Butch Hancock, Santiago Jimenez, and Don Walser, and pushed that border northward. \(Imagine a line that begins at Kingsville, extends through San Antonio, follows I-10 west, and then begins to drift east of El Paso’s Upper Valley, and you will have some Hinojosa is on a bus again, this time in the company of Zimbabwe’s Stella Chiweshe and Peru’s Susana Baca, on a two-month, thirty-city tour in which the three stars are billed as The Global Divas. “This is a cool-ass show,” said Hinojosa’s longtime guitarist Marvin Dykhuis, four dates into the tour, in the Green Room of Seattle’s Meany Hall. For Dykhuis \(a Racine, Wisconsin, guitarist, mandolinist, charangista, who moved to Austin ten years ago, this Tish Hinojosa was a rare moment of understatement. The three Divas and the seven men who back them are an exceptional show. Conceived by International Music Network’s AnnMarie Martins, the tour inside the concert hall begins in Africa with Chiweshe, moves to the Afro-Peruvian music of Baca, and concludes with Hinojosa’s interpretation of Texas and Mexico. Eighty years ago, Mexican intellectual, historian, and goofball philosopher Jose Vasconcelos predicted that the Spanish Conquest of the Americas, if it achieved nothing else with its mixing of Amerindian, African, and European genetic stock, would produce “La Alan Pogue Raza Cosmica.” Tish’s frequent border crossings and the music they produce have always suggested that Vasconcelos might have been on to something; but at Meany Hall in Seattle, I think I witnessed the baptismal rights of the Cosmic Race Vasconcelos once promised the Americas. The music of Stella Chiweshe, “the mbira queen of Zimbabwe,” is almost a primal force. Locked into two major keys on the mbira and backed by the sort of percussion that can only come out of Africa, it is both mesmerizing and overwhelming. The mbira is a twenty-two-prong “thumb piano,” two tiers of metal tines that are MARCH 27, 1998 26 THE TEXAS OBSERVER