The best thing about this year’s Luminaria music treats is that most of them are more art installation than conventional “concert.” Besides the artists featured in this section, visit luminariasa.org for a complete list of performers (I also recommend Diego Bernal’s and Ernest Gonzales’ laptop attack; Sujata Venkateswar’s and Greg Hinojosa’s mix of music with Latino, Indian and African American dance traditions and Verisimilitude’s experimental, instrumental rock complete with an interactive liquid light show).
Who needs a band when you have Dixon’s Violin? Classically trained since age 10, the man started doing his own thing since he realized he could touch people’s emotions through his improvisations. Nailing down what he does is another matter. “People ask me whether I play classical music or fiddle,” he said in one of his three TED talks. “Is it A or B? But there’s not only a lot more letters in the alphabet — you can create your own.” So improvise he did, and he made a career of doing trippy fireworks with a five-string electric violin and a looping pedal. His shows are a trance-like experience where he takes you along a new agey, progressive hybrid you can’t put your finger on, but you don’t care. Just open up and let yourself go. Free, 8pm-midnight Fri, Nov. 11, Carver Community Cultural Center, 226 N. Hackberry St.
Fishermen and Spot Barnett
Luminaria’s closing night features artists from San Antonio’s sister cities Wuxi (China) and Monterrey (Mexico), but the night’s musical treat is SA’s own Fishermen, an indie sextet known for its high production values and careful songwriting. Gabe Medina (keys, vocals), Jeremy Dowd (drums), Roy Scavone (bass), Edwin Jered Stephens (vocals, guitar), Eli Medina (guitars, vocals) and Omar Rosel (guitars, keys, vocals) are experts at “tugging at your heartstrings” and “aiming for your conscience” (as they explain on their website), but I can’t guarantee you’ll find enlightenment at their shows. All I can assure you is that, musically speaking, Fishermen belong on a select list of top local bands, and one of the very few that understand what magical vocal harmonies are. Add legendary saxman Spot Barnett to the mix, and you have a night not to be missed. $55, 8pm-midnight Sat, Nov. 12, Healy Murphy Center, 618 Live Oak St.
By the time you read this, we’ll all be either exhaling and thanking the Supreme Power for saving us from Il Duce, or absolutely, completely fucked for (at least) the next four years. Either way, no one better than Mexican Stepgrandfather (Marco Cervantes, aka one half of Third Root) for commenting on the turn of events. The guy’s a thinking man’s rapper, a UTSA professor who just can’t rap a single useless word. He touches upon everything worth rapping about, from politics and cultural identity to black/brown issues, with the ferocity only a socially conscious Chicano can muster. Besides his own solid material, we only hope he’ll perform a few from Third Root’s impeccable third album, Libertad, produced by Grammy-winning Adrián Quesada (ex Grupo Fantasma). Those into gangsta and bling should look elsewhere. Free, 8:35pm Fri, Nov. 11, Stella Artois Stage between Dignowity Park (701 Nolan St.) and Lockwood Park (801 N Olive St.).
Everything Saakred (whose pronouns of choice are them/they) does is chillingly original. They manage to surf the waves of indigenous sounds, the avant garde and the experimental in unexpected ways, with the intensity of a person who lives in their own magical world. Their FOUR performance (“the world’s first digitally interactive sound temple,” they say) is more installation than “concert,” and it picks up from where Alumbramiento left off in Luminaria 2013. This time, they’ll be accompanied by photographer/app developer Ellie Pritts, Mexican photographer/filmmaker Arturo Vilchis, and the local vogue troupe House of Kenzo, but this is a fully interactive “temple” and you, not Saakred, will spend the most time in it. Each of the four stations will be colored to represent the four key (and sacred) elements of air, water, fire and earth, each with a distinctive sound (digital string quartets and drums, a theremin and keyboards). The installation allows four people at any given time, so each “composition” will be different, “making this San Antonio’s first-ever digital orchestra.” Free, 8pm-midnight Fri, Nov. 11, Carver Community Cultural Center, 226 N. Hackberry St.
"SET" featuring Joe Reyes with Paul Fauerso
Joe Reyes and Paul Fauerso;
Music-wise, it seems Friday is the key day at this year’s Luminaria, and “SET” perhaps its most interesting event. Artists Joey Fauerso and Liz Rodda put together a 30-minute video piece that combines silent films (by Cheryl Donegan, Celeste Fichter, Duncan Ganley, Tatiana Istomina, Susan Jacobs, Maura Jasper, Luz Maria Sánchez, Barron Sherer, Michael Velliquette, plus Rodda and Fauerso themselves) with original live music by Joe Reyes (Buttercup, Demitasse). “We watched the films beforehand and started improvising based on them, but once the performance started we changed everything,” said Reyes about a similar performance at Artpace in May. So, this time, once the lights go out, Reyes (guitar, percussion) and Fauerso (keyboards) will embark on a whole new journey. “Not much different from what jazz musicians do; we have a key and a tempo, but after that, nobody knows what will happen.” Free, 9:45pm Fri, Nov. 11, Little Carver Stage, 226 N. Hackberry St.
Visit luminariasa.org for a full line-up.