“Chicken Scratch”, or Waila music played by the native Americans inhabiting the borderlands southwest of Tucson, Arizona (formerly known as Papago, today as Tohono O’dom). Definitely not what you might envision, this sounds more like bent, slightly offtune upbeat polkas or waltzes. Borrowing from Mexican Norteno, Conjunto musics, as the Canyon press release points out below, it demonstrates well the heavy influence of German immigrants to Mexico in the 1800’s, bringing with them accordions and skillful beer crafting. This is party/dance music, the type of bands that play in the local dancehalls or weddings or other celebrations that go well into the night until the sun rises over Baboquivari Peak to the east.
(from Canyon Records)
Originally released in 1972, these are the legendary first two recordings of waila, the energetic social dance music of the Native American peoples of the southern Arizona desert. Also referred to as "chicken scratch", the vibrant melodies of saxophone, accordion, and electric guitar glide across the solid backbeat of bass and drums performing polkas, schottisches, and mazurkas. This newly remastered collection brings together classic recordings of this musical hybrid rooted in the contacts between European immigrants and the Tohono O'odham peoples.
Tracks: the first 4 tracks are heavier, slower with more backbeat. The middle ones are your more typical great chicken scratch. The last six have a more 50’s, traditional feel. Track names are often descriptive, e.g. “polka”. They are apt (2-step). A chote or mazurka is heavy twisted waltz (that I am very partial to). Try these, in order of my preference: 15, 3, 14, 6, 18