Tiny Desk

Pistolera

Download Audio

Pistolera: Tiny Desk Concert

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

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

Gabrielle Smith performs as Eskimeaux at a Tiny Desk Concert on July 14, 2015. Emily Bogle/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Emily Bogle/NPR

Tiny Desk

Eskimeaux

There's lighthearted, almost childlike beauty in the way Gabrielle Smith puts words to song.

Tiny Desk Concert with Caroline Rose. Lydia Thompson/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Lydia Thompson/NPR

Tiny Desk

Caroline Rose

Rose plays music as if she's just met her new best friend: It's fresh, fun and enthusiastic.

Tiny Desk Concert with Son Lux Lani Milton/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Lani Milton/NPR

Tiny Desk

Son Lux

The trio blows up its sound by adding off-duty, civilian horn players from the U.S. Marine Band.

Tiny Desk Concert with Kacey Musgraves Lydia Thompson /NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Lydia Thompson /NPR

Tiny Desk

Kacey Musgraves

The country singer plays four songs from Pageant Material, plus the set-closing "Follow Your Arrow."

Tiny Desk Concert with Restorations Morgan McCloy/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Morgan McCloy/NPR

Tiny Desk

Restorations

The Philly rock band's big-hearted songs are stripped down to a few guitars and a MiniKorg.

Tiny Desk concert with Torres Lydia Thompson/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Lydia Thompson/NPR

Tiny Desk

Torres

Mackenzie Scott's music channels Patti Smith and PJ Harvey while hinting at further growth.

Tiny Desk Concert with SOAK. Lydia Thompson/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Lydia Thompson/NPR

Tiny Desk

SOAK

Irish singer-songwriter Bridie Monds-Watson makes the most of a single voice and an acoustic guitar.

Tiny Desk Concert with Shamir Lani Milton/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Lani Milton/NPR

Tiny Desk

Shamir

The singer's disco-infused funk and soul gets stripped down to a lone voice with a guitar.

Tiny Desk Concert with Paul Weller. Lani Milton/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Lani Milton/NPR

Tiny Desk

Paul Weller

See the beloved Britpop veteran perform songs from his new album, Saturns Pattern.

Back To Top