Prescott's commemoration of el Día de los Muertos was happy proof that Tucsonans are not alone: There are members of the tribe up north, and our solidarity with them will be amply rewarded with camaraderie, shared foolishness and even some great new ideas, like: Why not have all the beer proceeds go to charity? And: Why not round up a bunch of thrift-store sofas to place around the stage?
Detailed calavera makeup and gorgeous costumes were everywhere, as were giant puppets, stilt-walkers, hula hoops and sweet child angels and faeries. Flame-dancers provided daring thrills, and the Sambatuque drum troupe—with their red drums festooned in flowers and skeletons—coaxed the whole crowd into something like a procession.
The Silver Thread Trio contributed the first Tucson music to the affair. They followed a high-energy Sambatuque set, and shifted the mood quickly with some a capella melancholy. Sharing the stage with the Rosano Bros. Virtual Quartet, they swung the heck out of "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen," a song so familiar that they seemed to escape conscious harmonizing and let fly.
Rose's Pawn Shop followed with a crowd-pleasing, pop-heavy alt-country set—and then Tucson speed-mambo kings Sergio Mendoza y la Orkesta took the stage. Many of our merry-making Prescott brethren seemed a bit flummoxed—tentative, even—about joining in the strange and wonderful spectacle of a Tucson-style All Souls' celebration. But with Sergio Mendoza y la Orkesta onstage, there's no turning back; they had to dance. Shiny in her 21st-century update of Carmen Miranda style, Melissa Alejandra, the newest member of la Orkesta, showed them how.
You keep wondering how Calexico is ever going to top the explosive collaboration of Sergio Mendoza and his seething dance floor, but then Joey and John start into that first song, just the two of them, and it's really not that difficult. Experienced performers at the top of their game? No contest. When the crowd chanted, "Uno mas!" at the end of the dazzling, full-throttle Calexico set, the band brought all the Tucsonans back for an encore, closing with one of the oldest songs in their catalog, Tom T. Hall's "Tulsa Telephone Book."