What's a music and basketball fan to do when the Arizona Wildcats are scheduled to play Connecticut in the Elite Eight—smack dab in the middle of the second annual Festival en el Barrio Viejo?
No one had to decide, as organizers brought in a giant TV—and even the Wildcats' last-second loss couldn't dampen spirits. The gorgeous weather, the multigenerational attendees and, of course, the music all added up to a heaping pile of good vibes.
As people arrived early in the day, there were the heavenly harmonies of the Silver Thread Trio, who performed an all-original set. Introduced as "Tucson's musical mayor," Al Perry turned in a set as sturdy as ever. Taraf de Tucson performed a delightful concoction of cumbia and gypsy sounds. The five-piece Los Gallegos got people dancing with potent and bouncy norteño and Tejano.
Kiss and the Tells—featuring two frontwomen, Emilie Marchand and Brittany Katter, and two female backing singers—paid homage to the girl groups of the '60s, and seamlessly included a pair of original songs. The Baseball Project—composed of rock veterans that started out in bands such as the Dream Syndicate, the Young Fresh Fellows, and R.E.M.—played catchy rock tunes about, you guessed it, baseball. They also served as the backup band for Robyn Hitchcock, who began his set solo, adding members as it progressed. "Airscape," sung just as the sun was setting, brought chills.
And then came Calexico, who seemingly had a revolving-door policy to welcome guests. Al Perry performed a mariachi-ized version of his "Dreaming." Mariachi Luz de Luna added a harp on several songs. Ryanhood assisted on a cover of the Flaming Lips' "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1," dedicated to the people of Japan. And Calexico's own "Crystal Frontier" segued into a cover of Kurtis Blow's "Basketball," with background vocals from the Silver Thread Trio and rapping by Shaun Harris.
For the final song of the night, the stage was packed, including the UA World Music Gang drummers, and Hitchcock, who turned in a guest lead vocal on John Lennon's "Instant Karma." He had the whole crowd singing along: "Well, we all shine on. Like the moon and the stars and the sun."