David Garza’s musical journey

By Fredric Dannen

Singer, guitarist and songwriter David Garza, one of the most popular and sought-after performers in San Miguel, was probably destined for a life in music – his mother’s side of the family, originally from Bavaria, was replete with singing, piano-playing, and acting talent. Yet it was a suggestion by his nonmusical Mexican-American father, a beautician and sometime shrimp fisherman from Galveston, Texas, who set the course David’s musical life was to take. David’s parents divorced when he young, and he and his kid brother Todd left their home in Maryland to live in their father’s custody in Texas City, Texas. One day a representative from the fundamentalist 7th Street Church of Christ knocked at the door, and asked whether David and Todd would like to take the bus to Sunday service. “We told our dad, ‘No way,’” David recalls. “But Dad said, ‘Why don’t you try it? Who knows? It might be a good influence on you.’” Such was the case – but not in the way David’s father had expected. The church was to become David’s music school.

David Garza (Lynx Bigtooth Maple) plays the Beatles
Benefit Concert for RURALMEX
Tue, Oct 8, 7:30pm
Teatro Ángela Peralta
Tickets from 100 pesos

Seeing Garza in concert today, one finds it difficult to picture him in a conservative, Christian fundamentalist environment. (He went on to attend the equally strict Abilene Christian University.) Bearded, with a mop-top haircut, and with his shirttails invariably hanging out, Garza is about as casual and easygoing as they come, and his audiences are consistently charmed by his down-home manner and humorous repartee. When Garza starts to sing, however – be it rock, blues, folk, or gospel – you can hear the church influence. At the 7th Street Church, the congregation sang in four-part harmony, and the song leader, Larry Young, “had perfect pitch and a perfect sense of rhythm,” Garza recalls. “He was the ideal trainer for me.” Garza learned to sing in every range, from baritone to soprano.

San Miguel residents and visitors will have the opportunity to sample Garza’s warm and appealing singing style, and three-octave vocal range, this coming Tuesday, October 8, at the Teatro Ángela Peralta, in a concert devoted in large part to Garza’s interpretations of songs by the Beatles. Garza, who will also be playing a number of his self-penned songs, and who will feature a few guest artists (to be announced), is presenting the concert as a benefit for the Rural Education Institute of Mexico, Inc. (El Instituto de Educación en el Campo Mexicano, AC), a nonprofit organization that strives to reduce the alarming dropout rate among non-urban Mexican schoolchildren. RuralEd, as the association is known, holds classes in rural communities, builds libraries and computer labs, and provides high school (preparatoria) scholarships. Fifty percent of all proceeds of the October 8 concert will be donated to RuralEd. (For more information on the organization, visit www.ruralmex.org.)

Because he lived and performed for many years in Texas, where there are two other singers of the same name, David Garza uses the stage name Lynx Bigtooth Maple. He has become particularly well known in San Miguel as the lead singer for the band Vudu Chile, but he is equally at home accompanying himself on guitar. Garza has been delighting audiences since his days at Abilene Christian University, where he says he was something of a misfit – an emerging hippie at an ultraconservative school. One evening a few musicians who had formed a band at the college asked him to sing at an impromptu concert, and, Garza recalls, “I found my voice. And everyone went crazy. My name turned from mud to superstar in one day. Even my close friends started to treat me differently.”

Garza came to San Miguel in 2002 on the recommendation of a fellow Texas musician, and formed Vudu Chile two years later, with the guitarist Julian Arcos, after Arcos heard him sing at a bar near the Parroquia. Vudu Chile quickly became the most popular rock and blues band in San Miguel, a status the band enjoys to this day.


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