Project Description

The Hummingbird Music Project is a cultural exchange program between the Appalachian Mountain area of America and the Michoacan Mountain area of Mexico. It is a  music collaboration of traditional Appalachian music and traditional Mexican music. The program was conceived by musicologist Doug Beatty during his travels to some indigenous communities in the Mountains of Michoacon  Mexico.

While visiting a friend who lives with the Purhepecha community in Tzintzuntzan, he was struck by the similarity between the Mexican communities and the coal towns of Southern Appalachia. The towns are typically small and suffer from high unemployment. The church is the center of the community both spiritually and socially. Almost everyone is related by blood or marriage and music is the common thread that ties all of this together. Even the make-up of the traditional American Bluegrass bands and the local Purhepecha musicians look alike. They both feature a standup bass, guitar, mandolin and fiddle. However the style of play is very different, because the Purepecha musicians pick less and strum more. After this realization, Doug conceived the idea of bringing one American band to the mountains of Mexico and recording the interaction between the American musicians and residents of the Indian communities. The idea was so well received by both residents and participants in both countries that it has grown into a multi-national concert event with two American bands and local Purhepecha orchestras participating over a 10 day period. The festival includes many workshops and impromptu jams to build on the exchange of ideas and styles of play. To fulfill the cultural exchange objective, another concert event will take place soon in the Tri-Cities area in Southwestern Virginia. This event will be utilizing the same format as the Mexican version.

Herein the Hummingbird International Music Festival was born. The name Hummingbird was chosen because theoriginal host town’s name, Tzintzutzan, translates to “the place of the hummingbird”. Note worthy is the fact that hummingbirds in Southern Appalachia migrate here each year from the mountains of Mexico. This cultural exchange is a migration of mountain music.

This year’s festival will consist of the two American bands performing 6 shows over a 10 day period including several workshops and “flash concerts in various unannounced locations around the lake. Videographers will record the entire 10 day trip for use as a documentary to be released later. While the bands collaborate on the shows, we may have the good fortune of recording the birth of a new genre of music as the musicians share and influence each other.