Across the Border and Back: Music in the Big Bend (The Texas Experience, Books made possible by Sarah '84 and Mark '77 Philpy) (Hardcover)
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In the vast, sparsely populated area of West Texas known as the Big Bend, life takes place on a different scale. The nearest neighbor can be forty miles away, perhaps located not just in another town but another country, the border historically less obvious than it is today. In the small-town, bicultural atmosphere of the Big Bend, musicians from both sides of the Rio Grande come together, creating music that spans genre, culture, and international borders.
From Ojinaga, Mexico, to Alpine, Texas, and most points in between, writer Marcia Hatfield Daudistel and photographer Bill Wright have gathered, through hours of interviews, a trove of anecdotes, images, and personal recollections that explore what makes music—and musicians—in the Big Bend slightly different from anything found elsewhere. Playing big band music one night for a dance at Marfa Army Air Field and border polkas the next evening at a quinceañera; playing traditional norteño and conjunto but throwing in the saxophone to change the dynamic; making a living with their music or keeping their day jobs and playing when they can: these are the stories that demonstrate the cultural and musical versatility required for musicians in the Big Bend.
From the porch at Terlingua’s Trading Post to the jukebox at Lajitas, Across the Border and Back: Music in the Big Bend features the people, the history, the local color, the venues, and, above all, the distinctive attitude that have defined music-making in this place, at once one of the most remote and most unique in the country.
About the Author
MARCIA HATFIELD DAUDISTEL is coauthor of Authentic Texas: People of the Big Bend and The Women of Smeltertown. She is also the editor of Grace and Gumption: The Women of El Paso and Literary El Paso and serves on the council of the Texas Institute of Letters. A longtime resident of El Paso, Texas, she now lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. BILL WRIGHT, award-winning photographer, is author of several books, including The Whole Damn Cheese: Maggie Smith, Border Legend, The Texas Outback: Ranching on the Last Frontier, and Portraits from the Desert: Bill Wright’s Big Bend. A member of the Texas Institute of Letters, he resides in Abilene, Texas.
“Marcia Hatfield Daudistel and Bill Wright, with their words and photos, have given us an invaluable window into the musical life of the Big Bend. Music that crosses international boundaries. Music played impromptu on porches. The variety of players, styles, instruments, collaborations will keep readers fascinated with the artistic life of West Texas that too often works its magic under the radar. But magic indeed is what they create, these musicians in the desert and mountains of the Big Bend. Their songs reach across many borders to bring us joyfully together.”—Sergio Troncoso, editor of Nepantla Familias: An Anthology of Mexican American Literature on Families in between Worlds and author A Peculiar Kind of Immigrant's Son
— Sergio Troncoso
“Two languages and two distinct cultures define the borderlands of Far West Texas and the Mexican states of Coahuila and Chihuahua. One sound - music - unites these Borderlands and defines the region as a whole, which Marcia Hatfield Daudistel’s words and Bill Wright’s images so beautifully capture.”—Joe Nick Patoski, author of Austin to ATX
— Joe Nick Patoski
“Marcia Hatfield Daudistel’s engaging treatise successfully makes the case that the Big Bend region is a Petri dish for some of the world’s most distinctive music and unsung heroes. Whether pulling back the curtain on the Oginaga sound, the desert characters whose songs reflect the open sky, the secluded venues, dusty backstories of legendary musicians (and the obscure ones) or the talented luthiers whose instruments aim for the mystic, Across the Border and Back: Music in the Big Bend is essential reading before any road trip to Terlingua, Marfa, Alpine and beyond.”—Hector Saldaña, The Wittliff Collections at Texas State University
— Hector Saldaña
"It is a fine book and I have to say I have never learned so much about a subject in such a short period of time, or come to care so much about a subject I thought I had little interest in."—Lonn Taylor 1940-2019, Texas historian and columnist
— Lonn Taylor