Lone Piñon is an acoustic conjunto from Northern New Mexico whose music celebrates the integrity of their region's cultural roots. Multi-instrumentalists Noah Martinez and Jordan Wax use the fiddle, bajo quinto, accordion, quinta huapanguera, mandolin, guitars, and bilingual vocals to play a wide spectrum of the traditional music that is at home in New Mexico.
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, 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 duo’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.
Noah Martinez (bajo quinto, quinta huapanguera, guitar, tololoche, guitarrón, electric bass) grew up in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque immersed in the music of his community: Onda Chicana, New Mexican rancheras, punk rock, norteño, and country. For 5 years he was the regular bassist for The Knightcappers of Albuquerque's North Valley, where he learned to play ranchera and onda chicana under the guidance of seasoned musicians. He is a descendant of several generations of activists who have worked to protect the agricultural and cultural traditions of Native New Mexicans and he raises sheep and goats at his home in the South Valley of Albuquerque.
Jordan Wax (violin, piano- and two-row accordions, mandolin, guitar, vocals) grew up in Missouri and was traditionally trained by master Ozark fiddler Fred Stoneking and Central Missouri dance fiddler John White. He worked as bandleader and accordionist for a Jewish dance band for years before his work with Missouri and New Mexican fiddle styles inspired him to travel to Mexico for a 6-month immersion in Mexican huapango fiddling, where he learned from Rolando "El Quecho" Hernandez of Trio Chicontepec, Casimiro Granillo of Trio Chicamole, and a variety of local fiddlers in the Huasteca region of San Luis Potosí. His studies of traditional New Mexico dance music have been guided and inspired in the past years by Tomas Maes (mandolinist of Santa Fe, NM) and Antonia Apodaca (accordionist and guitarist of Rociada, NM). In 2018 he travelled to Morelia, Michoacan for a few weeks of intensive study with master son calentano violinist Serafin Ibarra Cortez and P'urepecha elder and composer Tata Pedro Dimas.
For special projects and performances in 2019 Martinez and Wax will be collaborating with Tanya Nuñez (upright bass) and Lia Martinez (vocals) of Albuquerque, NM, Leticia Gonzales (violin, jarana huasteca, percussion, dance instruction) and Joanna Alvarez-Reyes (vihuela) of Santa Fe, NM.
In the past years Lone Piñon has played extensively throughout the Southwest and the US and recorded three studio albums: "Trio Nuevomexicano” (2016), "Días Felices," (2017) and "Dále Vuelo,”(2019). Their fourth album, “La Nueva Acequia: Traditional Music of Northern New Mexico” is in production and set for release in 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. This year they have been invited to teach 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.
“The group played with great energy, authenticity and devotion… a nice variety of rather old-time Mexican musical rhythms. I really dug right into the first cut…”
-Chris Strachwitz, founder of Arhoolie Records
— fRoots Magazine, UK
“It’s a challenge not to clap, tap, or sway along with these rhythms... Listening to this album highlights the pleasure to be derived from cross cultural relationships. These Días Felices are uplifting.”
— No Depression
“Martinez and Wax do more than bring the past to life; their vitality of presentation makes for fresh, engaging listening...”
-The Albuquerque Weekly Alibi
“They own each style with a genuine sincerity, three instruments, astonishing skills and complete dedication to their music [which] comes up, from this fresh treatment, renewed, alive and well. ...emotion and musicianship are obvious... Virtuosity is always there....Dont miss this.”
— Le Cri du Coyote Magazine (France)
“Ultimately, you sense the band’s deep respect for the music and cultures from which it emerged, honoring its integrity with the purity of their all acoustic instrumental approach. There is no updating going on, but there is a subtle blending, like a good spice mix, as they bring their diverse backgrounds to this music. New Mexico itself, you might remember, was Mexico (along with Arizona, Texas Nevada and California) until what is called on this side of the border the Mexican-American War of 1846-47, which resulted in massive U.S. expansion. It has the highest percentage of both Hispanic and Indigenous populations of any contiguous U.S. state. But it’s also close to the Midwest and it of course borders Texas and Oklahoma. All of this is present in New Mexico, and it is present in the music of Lone Piñon as well.
But enough of academics! Lone Piñon are, first and foremost, crack musicians and singers, but the casualness of their presentation belies this expertise, instead conjuring the feel of a gathering of good friends. ”
— Don Macica of Border Radio, Chicago, IL.
HIGHLIGHT PAST PERFORMANCES
US LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, WASHINGTON DC
MILLENIUM STAGE AT THE KENNEDY CENTER, WASHINGTON DC
WORLD MUSIC WEDNESDAYS AT THE OLD-TOWN SCHOOL OF FOLK MUSIC, CHICAGO
TUCSON MEET YOURSELF FOLKLIFE FESTIVAL
THE UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA'S "MASALA" WORLD MUSIC SERIES
INAUGURATION OF GOVERNOR MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM, SANTA FE, NM
GLOBALQUERQUE! WORLD MUSIC AND CULTURE FESTIVAL, ALBUQUERQUE, NM