As the old saying goes, nothing is sacred. This is especially true in art, and music in particular, where musicians blend influences and styles in an increasingly complex meld of sounds and cultural signifiers. The Internet and its vast array of musical platforms has only served to bring this melting pot to a more intense boil, where a 16-year-old in Beirut can draw from the same catalog as his teenage counterpart in Indianapolis.
With this in mind, the concept of a Caucasian musician from California transforming into a mariachi singer while serving a stint in prison for robbery proves plausible. This is the storyline behind Mateo, a documentary in Indy Film Fest’s Rock + Reel series, which showcases works about music and is screened in front of audiences at The White Rabbit Cabaret.
In the years since Matthew Stoneman emerged from prison, he has established a cult following in the United States and Japan as a “gringo mariachi” performer. Mateo, the debut film from director Aaron Naar, follows Stoneman as he attempts to record his first album while living in Havana, Cuba. In the film, Stoneman is depicted as one having a complex personality and whose checkered past and vices threaten to derail his success as a musician. As evidence, listen to Stoneman and Naar’s interview on WNYC’s Soundcheck podcast from earlier this summer.
In short, don’t miss this flick if you have ever wondered what Ry Cooder’s career might’ve looked like if he never left Cuba after working with Buena Vista Social Club.
After attending the screening of Pulp: A Film about Life, Death & Supermarkets, the kickoff of Rock + Reel, I can attest that the experience of watching a movie about music on a stage and sound system worthy of Indy’s finest independent musicians and touring acts is an opportunity worth seizing. Prior to each screening, attendees are treated to music curated by Musical Family Tree’s Jon Rogers, as well as complementary snacks. The staff at White Rabbit also tailors the drink specials to reflect themes from the movie, which is an awesome touch. Tickets for Mateo are free, but space is limited. Watch the clip below, and register for the screening via Eventbrite.
Here’s a clip from Mateo that shows the highs and lows of being a gringo mariachi:
Written by Rob Peoni