Building A Bridge Over Troubled Waters

In Bridge City, our music community seeks to overcome immigration politics and connect global communities by building bridges, not boundaries.

Illustration by Maria Rodriguez for Vortex Music Magazine (Portland)

Shredding Visas

When opportunity knocks in the music business, one better be ready. Guitarist Sebastian Silva was. “Idle Hands got offered these European tours like right off the bat,” Silva recalls. “I thought I would bite the bullet and just fly and do it, even though I knew my chances of returning to the U.S. were very slim.” He’d previously turned down offers to play in Europe and Japan, but this time, “I thought, ‘Why should I wait when [the opportunity] is going to be happening right in front of my face?’”

Illegal Son

The day after President Trump won, Denzel Mendoza was despairing, but he rambled with his trombone to a house party where he met another Filipino musician, Haley Heynderickx. She invited him to open for the band, and the resultant 20-minute solo trombone set won him an invitation to join her and became the basis for his new trio, Illegal Son.

The Turn Down

Portland immigrant artists say the feds are turning down the volume on their music, and careers. Dreamers — a common moniker for DACA recipients, derived from a bill liberals have long been trying to pass called the DREAM Act — are caught in limbo.

The Homeland Security Wizards

Perhaps no American political issue has been as divisive as immigration. Since the Immigration Act of 1990, Congress has consistently failed to pass a comprehensive reform bill. In June, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, but it’s unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled Senate.

María’s Charango

María Damaris says her charango is a weapon. Of love.

Wade in the Water

Water is among the powerful themes in 21 Cartas, a collaboration between jazz pianist-composer Darrell Grant, pan-Latin troubadour Edna Vázquez and filmmaker Adolfo Cantú-Villarreal. The work is sourced from letters Cameron Madill collected from undocumented mothers incarcerated in a for-profit, refugee prison in South Texas. Written in 2016 while President Obama was in office, the 21 letters are a study in the power of heartache, exploring “what it means to be a mother in prison on Mother’s Day.”

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