Featuring: Pat Mendoza
Mesmerizing Musician, Self-proclaimed “Lepricano,” Ever-Ready Storyteller
Pat Mendoza traveled to tell his stories and strove to learn many instruments from the Celtic and Native American flutes, guitar (6-string and 12-string). People were drawn to him when he played, whether in a concert hall or in a hallway. He told many types of stories though often honored many Indigenous tribes, especially as he was adopted by the Cheyenne and honored by the Lakota people. He served in the military and even had a black belt in both Kung Fu and Taw Kwando. He had a special place in his heart for those who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder like himself.
One time, a person spat in Pat’s face and called him a “baby-killer” because he served in the Vietnam War. Pat took that traumatic moment and transformed it into a a musical called “Both Sides Now: The War at Home and the War in Vietnam.” This musical premiered at the Arvada Center for the Performing Arts in May 1990. It later became an award-winning show performed by high school students in 1992.
He could see many perspectives at the same time beyond that moment. He delighted in adapting to the audience before him and gathered several stories wherever he happened to travel. Though, he laughed when he called himself a “Lepricano” due to her maternal grandparents being Native American and Irish as well as a father from Cuba. His home roots tended to be Florida and Colorado…although he did not stop him from gaining stories such as “La Llorona” from Mexico for whaling chanteys from Fiji.
I loved best his moment with Norma Livo, a professor from University of Colorado Denver. Norma was coordinating a storytelling conference. Pat came to her office and asked if he could be part of the line-up. She realized that Pat was needed despite never hearing him. That was the cue Pat needed. He picked up his guitar (that he, of course, had at the moment) and sang. People were drawn to her university office space as if it was a concert hall. Everyone applauded when he was done. Pat became part of that line-up.
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You can see more details on Pat Mendoza with the Story Artists Memorial.
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I appreciate Pat Mendoza for sharing his way to celebrate all around him while giving attention to perspectives that could otherwise be forgotten or ignored. We can all have such a view and be better for it.
Pat still has a story. You have a story. We all have stories.