RED WING, Minn. — Texas native Gina Chavez had heard rumors about Minnesotans before visiting the state: we don’t like to dance. She refused to believe that no one in the Land of 10,000 Lakes dances so, when she performed at the Sheldon Theatre on Friday, Oct. 25, she had the theater create a designated dance floor. The singer-songwriter was right, Minnesotans can, and do dance.
During her bilingual set — Spanish and English — Chavez told the audience that there are two things that she tells every crowd: she is half Swiss-German and half Mexican, English being her first language but she also speaks and sings in Spanish. The second fact is that when she was 24, Chavez fell in love with her now wife, something that she thought would never happen as a practicing Catholic.
The music throughout the night featured songs from Argentina, Peru and pieces that sounded like American pop. The instruments featured were almost as diverse: a trumpet, trombone, piano, accordion, guitar, bass, drums and charango (a small Andean stringed instrument that looks similar to a ukulele with a curved back). Chavez and the band seamlessly transitioned from fast-paced, bass and guitar-heavy pieces to slower, more emotional songs.
Throughout the concert Chavez would talk to those in the theater, telling them about herself, her music and encouraging them to be good people.
“The best version of you is the best thing you can give to the world,” said Chavez during one interlude.
After the concert and an encore, Chavez and her four-member band remained on stage for a question-and-answer session.
One of the few grade school children in the audience asked the singer how she writes her songs.
“So, sometimes we overthink it, but the best songs come out when we just let ourselves flow,” explained Chavez. “Sometimes I have to physically make myself write a song, kind of like homework. But sometimes it just comes out.”
It was clear that there were a few fans in the crowd who know the singer’s work well because their questions were about specific songs and albums by Chavez. One such song that was asked about: “Fire Water.”
“What’s interesting,” explained Chavez, “is that is the one song in my repertoire that really doesn’t have anything to do with real life. So, I mostly write from my own perspective, I’m a pretty literal person, like, it’s hard for me to be super imaginative and dream of worlds. I’m not a David Bowie kind of like, ‘Oh, imagine this whole other thing,’ it’s not me. And that particular song ... I feel like that’s kind of my version of ‘House of the Rising Sun,' but obviously it’s more ... it could be taken as about alcoholism ... for instance. But it’s not really based on anything in particular, it literally came to me in the shower one day.”
Chavez is currently on tour around the United States. On Jan. 30, she will perform in Chippewa Falls, Wis.