Canciones de Ronstadt

Linda Ronstadt enchants Laxson audience

Linda Ronstadt & Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano
Saturday, Oct. 25, 2008, in Laxson Auditorium

Fresh off of receiving the Trailblazer Award at the National Council of La Raza’s ALMA (American Latino Media Arts) Awards show in August for her voluminous and varied contributions to American music, Linda Ronstadt graced the stage of Chico State’s Laxson Auditorium this past Saturday night. The Mexican-American singer performed an evening of music that embraced her Mexican heritage before a packed, enthusiastic house.

Most people likely know Ronstadt for her lovely, powerful, country-folk-rock singing from the late 1960s and ‘70s, which included her eponymous 1971 album featuring session musicians that went on to become The Eagles. Ronstadt’s 1974 album Heart Like a Wheel contained the wildly popular “You’re No Good” and her hit version of Phil Everly’s “When Will I Be Loved.”

She delved successfully into new musical territory in the 1980s, and in 1987 Ronstadt embraced her roots when she recorded the heartfelt Canciones de Mi Padre, followed by other recordings of the Spanish-language songs of her Tucson, Ariz., childhood.

Ronstadt’s Laxson appearance featured the impressive nine-piece Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano in impeccable, gold-braid-decorated charro outfits and wide-brimmed sombreros, as well as colorfully dressed Mexican dancers.

No photography was allowed, but it certainly wasn’t because Ronstadt looked worn-out. Dressed in a black velvet top, black lacy skirt and shimmery pink scarf, Ronstadt—at age 61, still a cute (and now-plumpish) brunette—delivered song after joy-bringing song backed by the customary plaintive violins, soaring trumpets, vihuela and guitarrón of mariachi music, which incited repeated, joyful gritos (yells) from the audience.

Bathed in a pink light, her voice commanding and pretty at the same time, Ronstadt sang a lovely version of “Por Un Amor,” from Canciones, backed by stellar vocals from members of Los Camperos, and the romantic plucking of the harp and guitarrón.

“Dos Arbolitos,” another love song from her Canciones album, was just as enchanting.

She didn’t appear on stage until Los Camperos had performed a half-hour’s worth of merry and beautiful music (including the cheery “La Morena,” which featured a brisk solo from harpist Sergio Alonso), and though she left the stage occasionally to highlight the band or the happy dancers, Ronstadt was a crowd-pleaser whenever she was in front of the audience.