David Wax Museum’s Mexo-Americana sound.
A wintertime session at a recording studio in the town of Parsonsfield, Maine—which sits on the New Hampshire border west of Sebago Lake and east of Lake Winnipesaukee—may not bring to mind folk music from the sun-drenched climes of southern Mexico.
Likewise, Missourian David Wax and Virginian Suz Slezak, who met and formed the Mexican/Americana indie band David Wax Museum seven years ago in Boston, are not ethnically linked to the region of Veracruz, from where so much of their musical style derives its influence. But that has not prevented them from recording the latter two of their four albums up in Maine, and presenting their musical amalgamation with a fluidity that is accessible, authoritative, and an absolute pleasure to hear.
This week, Wax and Slezak return to the Valley—where they lived for five years—to perform once again at the Iron Horse.
“All music can be blended,” Slezak told the Advocate over the phone last week, as the couple drove with their infant daughter to Washington, D.C. for a gig with the Carolina Chocolate Drops. “Any new genre is a blending of two or more genres. So there’s nothing necessarily special about blending rural Mexican with American folk.” Because not many musicians are doing it, however, especially in the Boston area, it felt fresh, she added.
As a student at Harvard, Wax studied Latin American literature and history before getting a post-grad fellowship to study music in Mexico. Learning from living masters of the style called son Mexicano, Wax returned to Boston with a deeper understanding of traditional Mexican music and a desire to form a band that incorporated traditional instruments like the leona, a deep-voiced guitar that sounds similar to a stand-up bass, and the jarana, a smaller, eight-stringed guitar. Not to mention the jawbone of a donkey.