He // Him // His
[ID: A seated man with his jarana in front of a white brick wall. His dark hair appears pulled back and he gives a passive stare from behind blue framed glasses. His pose is relaxed, his arms hang gently around the jarana, and he gives a very small smile.]
Los Angeles, CA
2022 USA Fellow
This award was generously supported by the Reis Foundation.
César Castro is from Veracruz, Mexico, home of the son jarocho genre and fandango tradition that he teaches, practices, and shares today. Castro began learning this tradition at the age of thirteen with Andres Alfonso Vergara. Because he was so passionate about the music and showed some promise, masters of the tradition, such as Vergara and Gilberto Gutiérrez of Grupo Mono Blanco, took notice and began teaching him privately. He continued his studies with these maestros and began playing with Grupo Mono Blanco two years later.
By the age of fifteen, he began teaching zapateado (percussive dance), requinto, and jarana at Casa de la Cultura in Veracruz. With Mono Blanco, he traveled through Veracruz to give workshops to children in rural communities where the son jarocho and fandango had disappeared for reasons of migration and the commercialization of son jarocho.
He learned about the fandango, the celebratory element of son jarocho tradition, with Mono Blanco. The fandango is a site of conviviality, of intentionally being together, sharing music, song, dance, and food and, as a result, cultivating relationships and building community.
He moved to Los Angeles in 2004, where he has lived ever since. He played with Quetzal, a Chicano/a rock group, and started his own group, Cambalache. Castro continues to teach son jarocho at local high schools, community centers, and universities and within the California state prison system.
Portrait photo courtesy of the artist.