While the group plays traditional music of Southern Veracruz, a regional style that like many others was historically dominated by men, feminine voices are one of its distinguishing characteristics.
Jarocho music grew out of the symbiosis of African, Spanish and Indigenous cultures living in Mexicos Sotovento, a region comprised of parts of Veracruz, Oaxaca and Tabasco states. Musicians alternate singing verses that are usually joyful descriptions of nature, beauty and human relationships. This dynamic way of singing improvised on occasion is one of the most appreciated musical legacies Mexico offers the world.
Adriana Cao Romero Alcalá and Raquel Palacios Vega formed the group in 2008 with the idea of highlighting the presence of women in the world of son jarocho not only for their role as dancers, but also as instrumentalists, singers and even composers of original verse. Cao Romero, who has performed professionally for 40 years, notes that historically women were relegated to secondary roles in male-dominated groups.
The group has a softer sound, Cao Romero notes, adding that each musicians unique voice and unique instrument can be heard in Caña Dulce y Caña Brava.
Currently, the group is composed of five musicians who recreate the music of Southern Veracruz with harp, a family of guitar-like instruments called jaranas, plus two other related stringed instruments called requinto (a melody instrument) and the Leona (which serves as a bass) and a jarana de arco (a unique viola which one of the members created). They also play a variety of percussion instruments, notably the quijada, or donkey jaw, and the tarima, a small dance platform that amplifies the sounds of zapadeado footwork.
In addition to the founders Cao Romero and Palacios, members include Violeta Romero Granados, Alejandro Loredo, and Anna Sylvia Arismendez.
Caña Dulce y Caña Brava has performed in South Africa, Venezuela, Korea, France, Turkey, Canada, and throughout Mexico. They are in the Bay Area as part of the 6th Annual San Francisco Son Jarocho Festival.