“Welcome,” he said with a callused handshake, and before long, Don Heri had gone for his violin and joined Tito and other musicians for an unrehearsed jam. Twice a week they play sorrowful ballads and up-tempo songs of hope. Mexico is battered and beautiful, and Rancho El Tule is both a refuge from the enduring national tragedy of bloodshed and corruption and a prideful embrace of culture and history. The house favorite is ranchera romantica, which Tito describes as “the kind of music you take with tequila and lime, but in this case, wine.” “It feels safe here,” said Paloma Nunez, a friend for whom Don Heri hosted a wedding party and charged nothing at all. She goes to the rancho as often as she can with her young son and her husband, Jose Luis, one of the finest trumpet players in Baja and a member of Tito’s traveling orchestra, which is prone to drop in anywhere, any time and play for hours. The musicians come and go through the night, some of them pros, some of them dreamers, and Don Heri joins in when he can, sometimes with his guitar instead of the violin. He disappears now and then and always returns with another bottle that gets passed around. “This is something we do as friends,” said Tito, who admires the way Don Heri conducts himself and treats others. Tito gives him violin lessons in return. When Tito and I went back to see Don Heri a second time, he greeted us in a long dark riding coat. He uncorked a couple of bottles of the rich red wine he makes, offered a plate of cheese and olives, and we talked for three hours as he plucked his guitar and occasionally sang. In the Baja gold rush of the late 1800s, Don Heri said, his great-grandfather found a few nuggets and bought this land, perfect for fruit trees and for Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet and Nebbiolo grapes. Don Heri is up at 6 each day to work with his three sons and his wife, Dona Ofelia, making wine he doesn’t even bother to market.
It wasn’t a beat that you would usually use in rock ‘n’ roll, but it was a strong pulse, and that’s all they needed. And they ended up dancing to it.” Morton Subotnick And Joan La Barbara On Q2 Music’s ‘Spaces’ Credit: WQXR Subotnick’s interest in new sounds goes back a long way. As a child prodigy in 1950s Los Angeles, playing clarinet with symphony orchestras, he sensed that something new was brewing. The miniaturization that led to things like the transistor radio meant you no longer needed a room full of equipment to make electronic sounds. Subotnick and Ramon Sender, his partner in the San Francisco Tape Center (a nonprofit dedicated to tape music), collaborated with electronics engineer Donald Buchla to develop the first compact analog electronic synthesizer. Their goal was to turn people’s living rooms into concert halls. “What I loved about it was I could be in my studio and be the composer, the interpreter, the performer and the listener,” Subotnick says. “It would be like being a painter. I could make my music until I really loved it, just perfect and then it would become a record and go into someone’s home. For me, it wasn’t recording something; it was creating something new for that medium.” Subotnick’s interests in music and technology didn’t end with the synthesizer: He’s moved on into digital media and its interactive possibilities. In 1995, he released a CD-ROM titled Making Music for kids, ages 5 and up, to experiment with sounds on the computer. It sold in the hundreds of thousands. Early last year, he released an iPad app called Pitch Painter, which allows even very small children to “compose” by selecting instruments from different cultures and drawing on the screen. YouTube Subotnick says he believes the making of music can and should be easy and accessible.
Electronic Music’s Godfather Isn’t Done Innovating
It might as well be Taylor Swift weekend in Music City. The pop star opened her $4 million Taylor Swift Education Center at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on Saturday morning, and will accept her record sixth songwriter-artist of the year award from Nashville Songwriters Association International on Sunday. RELATED: TAYLOR SWIFT SETS SONGWRITING RECORD Mark Humphrey/AP Swift posed with fans at the center. The facility will have classrooms, instrument rooms, and education opportunities for kids. Swift cut the ribbon on the new education center she donated to the museum as part of its expansion campaign and showed reporters and area high school students the new classroom and exhibit space before the museum opened. “I’m really excited about this music education center and the fact that right now they have three different classes going on today,” Swift said in an interview after the ceremony. “It’s really exciting that we can be here on a day when they’re not only unveiling it, but they’re starting to actively use it today.” RELATED: TAYLOR SWIFT MAKES 7-YEAR-OLD GRACE MARKELS DREAM COME TRUE AFTER YOUNG FAN WAS HIT BY SPEEDING MOTORIST Mark Humphrey/AP Swift cut the ribbon on the new education center she donated to the museum as part of its expansion campaign. The center will have classroom space, a hands-on instrument room and ongoing education opportunities. Museum officials say the new center will increase educational opportunities sevenfold going forward. And who knows? Maybe users will find the 23-year-old Swift hanging around some day. RELATED: READY FOR HER CLOSEUP!