Try a slice of non-European-based Americana

The most recent estimate of Idaho’s population, according to the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs, is 1,787,375, which seems like a pretty specific number for an estimate. Of that number, also according to the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs, the total number of people born in or descended from Spanish-speaking countries is 229,490 or about 13 percent of Idaho residents. There are plenty of different reasons to move to Idaho, no matter what your origin story entails. But a percentage of those who emigrated directly from Mexico to Idaho came here to work in the agricultural industry. And like any other group, many of them settled close together, creating ethnically-specific towns and neighborhoods and adding their culture to this part of the American melting pot. That obviously includes music. The Idaho Mexican Music Project is an effort of the Folk and Traditional Arts program of the Idaho Commission on the Arts to document musicians of Mexican descent and their musical traditions that are present throughout southern Idaho. Inspired by a similar project in 1982, the Idaho Mexican Music Project is focused on the agricultural region of the Snake River Plain, where Mexican-American communities have established themselves as economic and workforce contributors since the days when Idaho was a territory. However, essentially because of language differences, the music of those aggregations has most often been less visible (or audible) to the broader community in terms of cultural and social impact. In other words, Spanish music doesn’t always translate well or even seep into the lives of those who speak only English. Because of that fact, since 2019 Arts Idaho has produced 18 short films featuring Mexican music in Idaho. The films include interviews with and performances by singers, musicians, bands and informal groups as they both practice and perform traditional and not-so-traditional Mexican music. Sometimes they’re on stage, sometimes in parks, and other times they’re in backyards and living rooms, pretty much everywhere from Caldwell to Rexburg. If you’re interested in seeing them, the films can be viewed online at Very few, if any, of the participating performers are professionals, and the study seeks to highlight the idea that musicians of all ethnicities and cultures provide essential services to their communities, such as pathways to social interaction and human connections. Examples include the pupils of a Treasure Valley school called “Mariachi Cantares de Mexico”, which translates roughly to “Mariachi Songs from Mexico”, the band “Legendarios de Chihuahua”, which translates to “Legends of Chihuahua (the northern Mexican state that borders Texas and New Mexico)” and the Saint Edward’s Catholic Church Choir from Twin Falls, who play hymns in an acoustic-based Mexican folk style. Whether you understand Spanish or not, the music is enjoyable, and the films are an interesting slice of non-European-based Americana, which is a thing.