Until earlier this year, I had never heard of Lila Downs which, based on last night’s performance at City Winery Napa, is really too bad. She came onto the stage fresh, bright, and full of energy, feeding off the thunderous applause of the capacity crowd, no doubt, and proceeded to tear it up like no artist I’ve ever seen do at that venue. It was both refreshing and invigorating to be a part of.
Downs, born in Oaxaca, Mexico, is the daughter of Mixtec singer Anita Sánchez and Allen Downs, a Scottish-American art professor and filmmaker. She grew up in Mexico, California, and Minnesota where she ultimately graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in voice and anthropology. Her eclectic background shines through when she hits the stage, being able to engage her famously multiethnic audience and whip them into a, albeit middle-aged, frenzy. "I'm so lucky," remarks Downs. "People who follow our music are from all walks of life, and they want to scratch the surface to know the whys and hows. Every day we get to connect in so many ways." The experience is really something to behold.
Downs’ performance was as dramatic as it was entertaining. Her ability to absolutely own the stage and work the room was on par with the greatest of opera divas, but without any of the diva aloofness. It’s almost as if she grabs everyone in her audience by the hand and lifts them up. Just a few songs in, the few open spaces that do exist in City Winery began to fill with people dancing. By the end of the evening almost everyone was on their feet. As I mentioned before it was refreshing, invigorating, and something to behold, but it was also something that is difficult to put into words. Watching her and her seven piece band was as close to tent revival excitement as I’ve ever been. In short, the experience bordered on religious. Seriously.
City Winery Napa at the Historic Napa Valley Opera House is located at 1030 Main Street, right in the middle of downtown Napa. For more information about upcoming shows, click here. To get social with City WInery Napa visit their Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter pages.