Sunday, Nov. 8

For the Dance of the Dead, Gary Patch and Amy Novelli turned the Rialto's interior into a shrine, topped by a colossal replica of a sugar skull, enormous papel picado banners, strings of giant marigolds and lights strung from the balcony to the stage. Everyone in the sold-out house was a supernumerary in a theatrical production set in a shrine. All of us were laughter and prayers for our dead, and enchanted captives to a fantasy.

The performance was filmed for a movie, Flor de Muertos. The performance will be combined with footage from the 20th Annual All Souls Procession and scenes from Day of the Dead festivities in Mexico. The film is expected to debut at the Loft Cinema next fall; DVD sales in the United States and Europe will benefit Many Mouths One Stomach, the organization that produces the procession, as well as the Loft and the Rialto Theatre. (See last week's "A Very Tucson Celebration" for more information.)

Molehill Orkestrah opened, celebrating their 11th anniversary as a band, and as many years participating in the All Souls Procession. Calexico joined in for the Orkestrah's final song, and the stage looked as though it couldn't possibly hold one more player. Calexico's Joey Burns directed them all (it's likely he could lead a battalion of cats) while playing his grandfather's accordion in tribute as pallbearers carried a coffin from the procession through the crowd and to the stage.

Surprises in Calexico's set included the first live performance of the instrumental "Fake Fur" and a cover of Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer." Visiting from Spain, Amparo Sánchez took the vocal lead on crowd favorite "Guero Canelo," improvising verses and incorporating lyrics from the Colombian salsa classic "A la Memoria del Muerto." Calexico yielded the stage to upstart energizers Sergio Mendoza y la Orkesta for two songs, and to the matchless star power of Mariachi Luz de Luna for three, including a drop-dead, heart-wrenching "Malagueña Salerosa," dedicated to deceased band member Ariel Cramer.

Calexico ended the evening with "Crystal Frontier," walking off the stage and through the crowd to lead us into the night, just as we had come in—dancing in procession, loving life.