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Pistolera: Tiny Desk Concert

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13 min 58 sec

March 1, 2012 Pistolera conjures the sounds of the Mexican desert by way of a cold basement in New York City's Chinatown. With the aid of a stellar band and insightful lyrics, songwriter Sandra Velasquez performs the music of her youth in California at the NPR Music offices.

How exactly do you conjure the sounds of the Mexican desert from a cold basement in New York City's Chinatown? Check in with Pistolera to find out.

The motivation was a longing for Mexican music on the part of the band's principal songwriter and lead vocalist, Sandra Velasquez, a California native who was studying music in New York. Her solution: to form a band that played the music of her youth. Now, after three albums, Pistolera continues to convert fans on both sides of the border — and, during its performance at the NPR Music offices, the band picked up a bunch more, thanks to its stellar musicianship and Velasquez's insightful lyrics.

Velasquez once told a story about introducing songs from the group's recent album El Desierto y la Ciudad in the Southwest: The introspective tone of the first few tracks caught many off guard — especially those expecting party music — but soon the talking stopped, the crowd quieted and the audience got a glimpse of a maturing band.

Pistolera's set at the Tiny Desk highlights a group in full command of its direction and musical identity. It still blows my mind to hear bands take the music made along the U.S./Mexico border and successfully transport it to other circumstances, while retaining the essence of its roots.

Set List:
  • "Polvo"
  • "Ponle Frenos"
  • "La Despedida"
Credits:

Producers: Felix Contreras and Jasmine Garsd; Editor and Videographer: Michael Katzif; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; photo by Michael Katzif/NPR

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