Olga Najera Ramirez Russell Rodriguez Rafael  Zamarripa

Russell Rodríguez, Ph.D

Russell is both an innovative scholar and an accomplished and gifted musician who contributed enormously to the documentary. As assistant producer, he participated in the field research and shoots as well as in the editing process. Given his expertise in production, recording, composition, and performance, Russell served as musical director and sound designer. Russell handled everything from selecting the musicians, to recording the music, to composing several pieces for the film. In fact, the theme song for the film, Son del Barrio, recorded by Los Otros, is one of Russell’s original compositions.

Russell began learning to play traditional forms of Mexican music at the age of 10, apprenticing and performing with some of the finest traditional musicians on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. He has acquired a deep and intimate knowledge of Mexican cultural practices and has established a transnational professional network with internationally acclaimed master dance teachers, musicians, and scholars both in Mexico and the United States.

Russell received his B.A in Anthropology from Santa Clara University in 1994, a Master’s in Latin American Studies from Stanford University in 1996, and his Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from Department of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Cruz in 2006.


In 2007, he awarded a University of California President's Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California at Santa Barbara where he spent two years working with Prof. George Lipsitz. Russell is currently completing his book, Mariachi: Performing the Soundscape of Greater Mexico, on the transnational practice of mariachi. His manuscript has been selected for publication as part of the Folklore Studies in a Multicultural World series that is collaborative venture of the University of Illinois Press, the University Press of Mississippi, and the University of Wisconsin Press, with the American Folklore Society.

Russell has worked in various capacities for the Smithsonian Institution as a researcher, annotator, and producer for the Folkways Recordings, and as a co-curator for the Nuestra Música: Music in Latino Culture Program for Folklife and Cultural Heritage American Festival. He has also co-compiled, annotated, and produced the Smithsonian Folkway’s Recording compilation, Rolas de Aztlán: Songs of the Chicano Movement, which featured artists and ensembles such as Agustín Lira, Daniel Valdez, Flor del Pueblo, Los Alacranes Mojados, and Los Lobos del Este de Los Angeles. He also wrote the liner notes for a 2011 Folkway’s release for the Los Angeles group Quetzal.