Much ado has been made about LA’s thriving Chicano punk scene, but there’s another epicenter of Mexican-American underground music that has long been ignored despite the vibrancy of its local scene. The Río Grande Valley is a place of cultural fusion unlike any other along the US-Mexico border, where long-established families frequently migrate back and forth between the two countries. From this distinct cultural stew, a singular musical history has emerged from the region — a history that spans 40 years and multiple genres ranging from doo-wop to Tex-Mex and punk rock.
The documentary feature As I Walk Through the Valley gives South Texas’ musical tradition its due place in the American canon, providing oral histories from the figures who played a vital role in the local scene. From grey-haired rockers citing band names like Question Mark and the Misterios, to young punks reminiscing about the birth of new DIY venues, As I Walk Through the Valley shines a light on a region that is often overlooked by taste-making music publications.
Based on the sheer amount of talking heads brought together by directors Charlie Vela and Ronnie Garza, we get a sense of the depth and breadth of this history. In the trailer alone, interviewees talk at length about the lack of resources, infrastructure, and institutional support that inspired the DIY ethic that continues to shape new generations of musicians from the region. These insightful interviews are interspersed with a treasure trove of archival footage, photographs, hand-drawn concert posters, and of course, the music.
Keep an eye on their Facebook page for upcoming screenings.
UPDATE 3/20/2018: As I Walk Through the Valley is now available to stream via Vimeo On Demand.