Felipe Molina / Yaqui (Yeome) from Tucson, Arizona
Felipe Molina (blue shirt) is a Yaqui (Yeome) native from north of Tucson in Arizona. His people originally came up from South America and settled here. We caught up with Felipe and his relatives and Felipe asked if we could record the songs on the desert. He said it was important to keep the songs in the place where they belonged.
We followed him out of town and out onto the desert. There, Milt set up his full studio outdoors while the men prepared the site by sweeping it and blessing it. It was an unusual event--cords snaking across the desert sand and the men singing to the open land. The music is amazing. At one point Felip had a bowl of water and he flipped a gourd over in that water and that became the drum--that and the notched sticks they used as rasps. I remember the sight of the water splashing in that bowl and the look on Milt's face. He wore a headset, constantly adjusting the levers of his mixer, and the look on his face could only be described as rapture.
Felipe had invited his brother and two nephews to sing with him during this session. They hunched over a blanket on the ground and sang to the deer, a sacred animal to their people. When he described each song and what it meant, the words sounded like poetry to me.
This music spread out over the desert as the sun was dropping in the sky and I understood, perfectly, why these songs must be recorded only in this beautiful studio of desert and sky and setting sun.
Listen to a sample of the show here