Festival of local waila music back at Desert Diamond for 5th year

The polka-influenced 3/4-time strains of “chicken scratch” waila music will inspire dancers at Desert Diamond Casino this weekend, as an annual celebration of the Tohono O’odham genre returns for a fifth year.

Waila is a Southern Arizona musical form developed from traditional O’odham sounds, Mexican influences and European tunes, especially those of German immigrants in the Southwest.

The name of the music is derived from the Spanish term “baila,” which
means “to dance.” A waila band usually has a guitar player, drummer, bassist, an accordionist and an alto saxophone player. Some groups might
also have a violinist.

The waila groups performing at Saturday’s celebration are T.O.
Legacy, Pick Up Kings/Kwaliya, T.O. Mumsigo, and Gertie and the T.O.
Boyz, so be sure to bring your dancing shoes.

“We’re honored to
celebrate the rich history of waila music with the Southern Arizona
community. Join us May 18 for a family-friendly experience featuring
some of the top waila bands!” said Treena Parvello, a casino spokesperson, in a press release.

The free event will welcome listeners and dancers of all age, with food for sale and arts and crafts on the plaza.