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The David Wax Museum’s ‘Mexo-Americana’ Show

BY Lauren Knapp  June 8, 2011 at 2:31 PM EST

Four years ago in Boston, David Wax was freshly returned from a
yearlong fellowship
in Mexico studying traditional son music (the musical style that includes Mariachi), while Suz Slezak was playing fiddle in old-time and bluegrass bands. Somehow, they found their music melded perfectly when they formed a new band, The David Wax Museum.

“When we were singing together it felt like this real click,” says Slezak.

While the duo uses the traditional sounds of the genres they’ve studied, they’ve managed to make them their own in a self-described “Mexo-Americana” style, which is also influenced by contemporary indie music. Picking out unusual harmonies with the accordion and fiddle, Wax and Slezak have added two traditional Mexican instruments: the quijada (a donkey jawbone) and jarana jarocho (an eight-string guitar).

The duet began by playing shows around the Boston area. But these days, the group has recently finished a European tour and will be performing on the main stage at this year’s Newport Folk Festival.

“I think once we committed to living on the road and putting everything we had into it, then things started to happen pretty fast for us and we got a couple lucky breaks,” Wax explains. “We did 200 shows last year.”

The David Wax Museum gave Art Beat a private performance during their stop in Washington, D.C.