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Robert Rodriguez and Chingon "Tells the Whole Story of El Rey" in "Mestizo City"

It's 3:30 on Saturday afternoon in Miami's Design District. A live rendition of "Canción del Mariachi" drowns out the beep, beep, beep of delivery trucks backing into alleyways behind contemporary furniture stores and restaurants that Crossfade can only afford when someone else is paying.

"Soy un hombre muy honrado, que me gusta lo mejor" Chingón lead vocalist Alex Ruiz sings. "Las mujeres no me faltan, ni el dinero, ni el amor."

Midway through the song, guitarist and Desperado director Robert Rodriguez sets his guitar on a stand, trots down the side-stage stairs, and wanders over to the center of the empty lot to make sure that the sounds levels are up to par.

He's clearly very hands on.

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-Robert Rodriguez's Band, Chingon, Playing Henry Muñoz's "Mestizo City" During Basel

Robert Rodriguez and Chingon "Tells the Whole Story of El Rey" in "Mestizo City"
Photo by Jacob Katel

In less than six hours, several hundred people will fill the outdoor space for an inspiring, audio-visual retrospective of Rodriguez's remarkable 20-year career.

"It's a really cool show," Rodriguez says. "We're playing all the movie songs. And it tells the whole story of El Rey, starting from El Mariachi to Desperado, Dusk Till Dawn, Machete, and how we had to create our own Latin stars to create a presence in Hollywood."

For example, Salma Hayek.

Robert Rodriguez and Chingon "Tells the Whole Story of El Rey" in "Mestizo City"
Photo by Jacob Katel

"While we play each movie song, you'll see footage from that movie behind us in sync," Rodriguez explains. "So when we play 'After Dark,' Salma comes out and does the snake dance. If you love music and you love music, no one else can do this show because we have 20 years of movies to support this kind of music and that kind of idea. I think people are going to get a kick out of it."

They did.

Robert Rodriguez and Chingon "Tells the Whole Story of El Rey" in "Mestizo City"
Photo by Jacob Katel

From the moment Chingon took the stage shortly after 9 p.m. last night across the street from Henry Muñoz's "Mestizo City" instillation, the organic intermingling of cultures bound together by the universal language of music--albeit Spanglish music--and film was truly beautiful to witness.

Between songs and film clips, Rodriguez would share back-stories, like the one about Quentin Tarantino writing a character, "Blonde Death," for Madonna to play in From Dusk Till Dawn.

Robert Rodriguez and Chingon "Tells the Whole Story of El Rey" in "Mestizo City"
Photo by Jacob Katel

Instead, Rodriguez convinced the film's writer to hire Salma Hayek as "Santánico Pandemonium."

Musically, Chingon is one of the tightest groups we've ever seen live. Anchored by guitar virtuosos Mark and Rick del Castillo, the band's effortless blend of ranchera, mariachi and rock 'n' roll is both captivating and mind-blowing.

Robert Rodriguez and Chingon "Tells the Whole Story of El Rey" in "Mestizo City"
Photo by Jacob Katel

Highlights include the legendary sax man Johnny Reno channeling the 1950s and tackling vocals on "My Mistake," a song he sang on Rodriguez's 1994 made-for-TV flick, Roadracers, and the Del Castillo brothers' synchronized picking on "Cuka Rocka."

¡Que viva la música!

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