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'Helping us move forward': Carrie Rodriguez shares stories and music with 'Sonic Movidas'

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Singer/songwriter Carrie Rodriguez has been working on the film/music/storytelling project Sonic Movidas for more than eighteen months, and she says the project, which is part of the 50th anniversary celebration year of UT’s Department of Latino Studies, was the perfect thing to work on during Covid times.

“About a year and a half ago, they contacted me and asked if I would be interested in curating a film series highlighting the diversity of Latinx musicians here in Central Texas,” Rodriguez says. “It was actually like perfect timing, because the pandemic had just hit; all of a sudden we can’t go do live music and be out together, so this was a way to safely be in community with musicians. And actually, we brought everyone to our backyard for these films. My husband is a videographer – Luke Jacobs – and he filmed and produced all of these videos. And we captured some really magical moments at a really tough time for all of us.”

Rodriguez fondly recalls the day that UT’s mariachi ensemble came to play in her backyard. “That day was, I’d say, the most joyous day of that whole, you know, year-and-a-half period of not leaving the house,” she says. “To have those mariachis in our backyard, and they came dressed in their beautiful UT mariachi suits… I immediately started crying. I mean, we’re all in that delicate state and just needing connection. And yeah, I was a mess through the whole taping. I just kept crying because it was so beautiful! And at one point in the middle of their song, one of my neighbors started doing a grito. We were getting gritos from over the fence! I felt like I was sharing the best gift with my whole neighborhood.”

Getting to work together with her husband on a project that let them both connect with musicians during a difficult time was a real blessing, Rodriguez says. “You know, not only are we experiencing this music, but then we’re getting to learn and talk to our musical guests,” she says. “My main job was to interview the musicians and just have conversations. And just to get that opportunity to be with people – safely, because we’re outdoors – during that time was just amazing. I feel like on both sides – the people who I was interviewing and myself – we both were so hungry for conversation and community that everybody was very open. And I love some of the moments we captured. We had some very honest conversations about identity, about connecting with the past, about where we fit in right now, about what all the different ways of being Latinx look like. I mean, we’re so broad. And I feel like this video series was a great opportunity to show how diverse and broad the Latinx music community is. It was just a real joy to make these and I can’t wait to share them with the public.”

The short films that make up Sonic Movidas will be available online starting November 6, and that night Rodriguez will host a screening and concert at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center. “Our guests are all musicians that are featured in these short films,” she says. “So we have – they call her ‘The Queen of the Accordion’ – Eva Ybarra. She is a conjunto legend from San Antonio, Texas. So she’ll be joining us on accordion and vocals. We have Jaime Ospina, who is the lead singer and songwriter for Austin’s Colombian funk band Superfonicos. We have got Alex Marrero, who is a great drummer but also a powerhouse vocalist. He’s the frontman for Austin’s Brownout, and he’ll be playing drums and singing.”

You’ll have to go to the web to see the full versions of all the films produced for Sonic Movidas (they’ll be available on youtube and on the Latino Studies site), but the event at the MACC will feature some highlights from the films before the live music starts up. Rodriguez says she’s hoping audience members will enjoy a night of great music and also learn a little something. “I’m hoping they will be turned on to an artist that they maybe didn’t know about before, a genre of music that they didn’t know about before. I think that is the power of music. It really does unite us more than any other artform. That unity, I do believe, is what’s going to help us through this incredibly divisive time in history. I do think that music is a key element in helping us move forward.”

'Sonic Movidas' will take place November 6 at the MACC. The full-length short films will also be available online starting November 6.

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