Home Performing arts Historic Pueblo Musical ‘Song of Pueblo’ Returns to Stage

Historic Pueblo Musical ‘Song of Pueblo’ Returns to Stage

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On August 12, local musicians will take the stage at the Hoag Theater at Pueblo Community College for the first time since 2019 to perform “Song of Pueblo,” a musical story chronicling more than three centuries of Pueblo and southern Colorado history. .

Deborah Espinosa, former director of the El Pueblo History Museum, began producing “Song of Pueblo” in 2008. She said Native tribes who lived in the Arkansas Valley in the 1600s during the Flood of 1921, Pueblo’s history is complex with stories that touch the entire nation. A single exhibition wouldn’t be able to encapsulate all the stories she wanted to tell, so she turned to the performing arts.

“I didn’t know anything about the performing arts,” she said. “I’ve never worked much with musicians, not in museum production. It was a learning lesson, but I was surprised how quickly everyone came to the idea. .an oratorio for Pueblo.”

“Song of Pueblo” is both an auditory and visual experience. Visuals of historical re-enactments and documents are shown on the big screen while an ensemble of local musicians play songs written specifically for the production.

The production’s songs are written by Daniel Valdez, an actor and songwriter whose accolades include working as associate producer on “La Bamba,” a 1987 biopic about Richie Valens. Espinosa and her husband, Juan, first met Valdez in 1973 while working with Cesar Chavez and the United Farmworkers of America.

“We gave subjects (to Valdez) – the 21 Flood, the Ludlow Massacre and the Sand Creek Massacre…all the stories are based on events that happened in and around Pueblo,” Juan said. .

While songs like “Flood of ’21,” “On Ludlow Field” and “Death at Sand Creek” are solemn songs about tragedy, other tracks, like “Founder’s Fandango,” are more upbeat. “Founder’s Fandango” shines a light on the many pioneers who claim to have founded Fort Pueblo in the mid-19th century.

“There’s a really good beat, kind of a cutesy lyric about all the men who claimed to help found Pueblo,” said Felicia Gallegos Pettit, the song’s lead singer. “Then the song goes, ‘Wait a second, there must have been women there too. That’s when we start to understand how women really played a role in the traditions they brought from their hometown.”

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Some Puebloans may get a glimpse of their own family histories through the show.

“They Came to Pueblo” is about the rich traditions that were brought to Pueblo through immigration. Two historic neighborhoods, Elm Street and Bojon Town, have songs dedicated to the Italian and Slavic immigrants who settled in these neighborhoods to work in the nearby steel mill and foundries.

Aavalajn Wiggins, a percussionist who joins the “Song of Pueblo” ensemble this year, said the show gives Puebloans, especially young people, a fuller understanding of Pueblo history.

“A lot of them don’t know the whole history of Pueblo, although a lot of them know their history very well, or their families and different things like that,” he said. “It’s good to understand Pueblo under five flags, the flood, the history, how we got St. Mary Corwin Hospital, how we got CF&I. It’s just a big story.”

Doors to the August 12 show open at 6 p.m. and the show begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 and will be sold at the door. It will be one of three performances of “Song of Pueblo” this year, with later dates to be announced.

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Pueblo Chieftain reporter James Bartolo can be reached by email at [email protected].