Opinion: QWANQWA and Kaethe Hostetter Get Their Big Moment

The pandemic delayed this group’s international tour

The Ethiopian ensemble QWANQWA (the name translates to “language”), which Hostetter started in 2014, was scheduled to play a 60-day U.S. tour before it was cancelled due to Covid-19. They were, however, able to put out their third album, ‘Volume 3.’ COURTESY PHOTO

Editor's Note

Steve Palopoli Profile Photo

A year in, you’d think that I would have heard every “what the pandemic ruined for me” story, because as you know we’ve reported on a lot of them, as told by people from all walks of life. But I have to say that “The pandemic ruined the international tour my Ethiopian folk ensemble had booked in the hopes of coming to the U.S. to jam with a Chicago jazz band, with the support of a MacArthur grant” is absolutely a new one, at least from a Santa Cruz native like Kaethe Hostetter.

But indeed, that’s exactly what happened to Hostetter, a violinist who had spent the last decade living in Ethiopia after falling in love with the nation’s traditional music. Her group QWANQWA had earned quite a bit of renown and was ready to perform for the first time in the U.S.

I won’t spoil any more of Aaron Carnes’ cover story, but I will say that while—like pretty much all stories of what the pandemic has ruined for people—Hostetter’s is terrible, I’m glad we could write about her music while she’s here. I hope it will encourage readers to check out what she and QWANQWA are doing when they finally do get their big moment.


Letters to the Editor


Re: John Tuck

This is indeed sad news. I met John as a young child, circa 1970. My mother, Ida Murray, worked with John for the county. As a widow, re-entering the work force, my mom often told me that John was one of the few that treated her with equal respect. I recall many rowdy and “fiercely political” dinner parties as a child with the Tuck clan either at our house or John’s. I also recall the Fourth of July parties that Bruce mentions. As a young boy, the concept of a pig cooking in the ground was really hard to understand. Being the same age as Bruce’s daughter Jennifer and John’s son Kyle we had some great times as kids at those parties. When my mother passed away 10 years ago, my brother and I quickly came to the conclusion that John should be the emcee at her memorial, a task he did with great finesse, style and humor. People sometime use the term “the biggest personality in the room”—that would certainly describe John, and I will certainly miss him.

Andrew Murray


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