Over nearly a half century as the leader of the legendary ensemble Grupo Mono Blanco, Gilberto Gutiérrez Silva has been the driving force behind the resurgent popularity of son jarocho, the signature folk music of the state of Veracruz on Mexico’s Gulf Coast. A movement as much as a band, Mono Blanco has also taught and inspired a new generation of musicians who are creating an international network of communities dedicated to this beloved music. A fusion of indigenous, Spanish and African musical elements, Gutiérrez learned the rhythms and instrumentation in Mexico City, of all places, and in 1977 formed the band with his brother Ángel and their friend Juan Pascoe when he was just 19. They named the ensemble after the Indigenous legend of the White Monkey, a deity whose love of music and community is still celebrated at an annual festival. Grupo Mono Blanco sourced hard-to-find traditional instruments and began traveling throughout Veracruz seeking out master musicians who could teach them the music’s intricacies. They dug deep into the rural culture of Veracruz, bringing it to the forefront of musical life, and igniting a major peoples music movement that spread throughout Mexico, the United States, and beyond. Their music was recently featured in the soundtrack of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Deputy Director of the ILCC Mateo Mulcahy speaks to the WGN9 team about the upcoming Mono Blanco concert on Dec. 9th at the Instituto Cervantes.