Opening night attendees were superbly greeted by a show which teemed with artistry and rehearsing. Producer and lead singer Chris Kenny’s newly-formed band, "MexiCanada", consists of four Mexicanos and one Canadian [her]. They perform predominantly in English with a few Spanish tunes and Mexican twists. "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" got the crowd going with the strong thumping beat and Chris' stirring voice. Arguably, Chris has never sounded better than her followers have heard in her ten years here. "Bésame Mucho" portrayed the vision of this new group, flowing from English language and songs into Spanish counterparts. She kissed the lyrics and one felt the love of wanting more kisses from her lover. Delightful, and the band played as they had been together for several years, not measured in weeks as their union is.
The band consists of four Mexicanos and one Canadian. MexiCanada has taken the resources available to them to create a unique show of English with Spanish and Mexican additions. It is surprising that this team is new to singing and playing together until recently. They are well-oiled and in-synch. The makeup is Jon Jamesson – bass guitar, piano and vocals, Salomon Arroyo Pedraza – trumpet and vocals, Tongo – flutes, percussion and vocals, Freddie Muro – guitar and vocals and Chris Kenny – vocals, guitar and producer. Success is spelled from the first notes and rhythms heard erupting from the stage. "Spanish Is a Loving Tongue" brought back memories of Emmylou Harris and other fine singers. Caressing the soft lyrics, one felt the life south of the border. This was a touching piece of work by all involved this night. The theme of mixing continued with "[In a Honky Tonk] Down in Mexico" was a shoulder-tossing rhythmic dance song. These two entries were stellar examples of the reach of this union of singers and musicians. Stunning is the word which comes to mind.
The song list was not thrown together with little thought. Chris obviously devoted a lot of time searching, with her purpose in the back of her mind throughout. Much testing and arranging to suit both her and the musician's styles are evident. "Que Sera Sera" was beautiful and delivered far from the Doris Day release years ago. Cher's "Bang Bang" came out as a thriller, about a troubled being taking care of business with her lover. Chris jumped into it and made everyone fear her hands and fingers were guns. Her interpretations take her on her own path. That is a sign of a very good artist. Chris has an obvious affinity for Paul Simon and gave the audience "Late in the Evening" and "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard", all the while in her own interpretation.
As the guitars moved in and out, the trumpet was portrayed often as the lead voice, with notes instead of words. It was not overpowering or brash but played with respect for the song as a whole, adding so very much to the show's total sound. Jon's piano and Tonho's flute exuded additional fullness to this fine group's sound.
MexiCanada is a Mexican word [not Spanish]. The closest English translation is "The Mexican Way": Fixing things, making things, inventing things with the resources, tools and know how available at the time. Chris provides her insights into examples of "Mexicanadas" with amusing but true stories of trials, errors and total misunderstandings resulting in a deeper insight into the humor and resourcefulness of the Mexican people. Mexicans poke fun but also take pride in their own Mexicanadas. It is difficult to spend time in Mexico and not see some examples of MexiCanada first hand. Now, the Puerto Vallarta area has a group which uses whatever resources are at hand and transforms them into a stellar musical demonstration.
You can catch Chris Kenny and MexiCanada on Sundays at Incanto on November 5, 12 and 19 at 8:00 pm. Online tickets available at Incanto or the Box Office is open daily except Monday from 9:00 am until 11:00 pm.
Incanto Vallarta is located at Insurgentes 109, Southside at Río Cuale. Telephone is (322) 223-9756.
For more reviews of performances in Puerto Vallarta, visit More of Beck's Best: Theater, Cabaret and More!
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