The Norte has long been a crossroads of cultures, and centuries of intersecting histories, trade routes, migrations, and cultural movements have endowed the region with an expansive and rich musical heritage. After centuries of continuity, today the sounds of the old strands of New Mexican traditional music have become very scarce in their home territory: a casualty, in part, of the cultural disruption caused by New Mexico’s rapid and at times forced integration into the American economic and cultural environment. But testaments and bridges to this older world have remained in recordings and, most importantly, in the living memory of elders. The musicians of Lone Piñon learned from elder musicians who instilled in them a respect for continuity and an example of the radicalism, creativity, and cross-cultural solidarity that has always been necessary for musical traditions to adapt and thrive in each generation. In 2014, they started Lone Piñon as a way to explore and strengthen the oldest sounds of traditional New Mexico string music, sounds that had all but disappeared from daily life. Through relationship with elders, study of field recordings, connections to parallel traditional music and dance revitalization movements in the US and Mexico, and hundreds of performances, they have brought the language of New Mexico traditional music and related regional traditions back onto the modern stage, back onto dance floors, back into an aesthetic/artistic conversation, and back into the ears of a young generation.
Early on in the process their involvement in New Mexican styles opened up connections to a network of related styles that cross state, national and generational borders. The group’s active repertoire reflects the complexity of this musical landscape and includes early conjunto duets, contemporary New Mexican rancheras, New Mexican swing, Hispanic Texan fiddle styles, Tohono O’odham fiddle tunes from Arizona, huapangos from the Mexican Huasteca region, and several styles of music from Michoacán: son calentano and son planeco from the southern lowlands and son abajeño from the P’urepecha highlands.
In the past years Lone Piñon has played extensively throughout the Southwest and the US and recorded four studio albums: “Trio Nuevomexicano” (2016), “Días Felices,” (2017) and “Dále Vuelo,”(2019) and “Nuevas Acequias, Río Viejo: Traditional Music of Northern New Mexico” (2020).
In August 2018 they were invited by the Library of Congress and the American Folklife Center to Washington DC, where they recorded a concert and an oral history of their work with New Mexican and Mexican musical traditions. In 2019 they were honored to teach and perform Northern New Mexico fiddle and dance alongside traditional masters from across North America and Europe at Centrum’s Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend, WA. An award-winning documentary about their work with traditional music, “En Donde los Bailadores se Entregan los Corazones,” has premiered at select screenings in the US and is planned for film festivals in the US and Mexico starting this year. The band recently received the Parsons Award from the American Folklife Center, which will bring them back to the Library of Congress in Washington DC to study the Library’s collection of field recordings of Northern New Mexican musicians.