Saturday, 28 February 2015

Live music in Santander, February 2015

Man, there was a lot of it!

  • 1 February: Jam Manouche @ Rubicón, Calle del Sol 4
      Now already a tradition!
  • 4 February: Funky Station @ Rubicón
      Funky Station, in that evening incarnation, was Sergio González (guitar and vocals), Francisco Gómez (guitar), Carlos Gutiérrez (bass and vocals) and Natxo Miralles (drums). Don’t be fooled by the band’s name: it’s not only funk, but also jazz, blues, rock’n’roll, even samba... Delightful, if somewhat directionless, mix. As it happens in Rubicón, some encores ensued featuring the guest artists who just happened to sit there at the bar.
  • 5 February: Phil Grijuela and Iván Velasco @ El Cazurro, Playa de La Arnía, Liencres
      I saw these guys last month performing during La Noche Americana at Rubicón. To my surprise, the program was almost completely different. The highlights included Like a Rolling Stone and Whiskey in the Jar.
  • 7 February: Gou Live @ Desafinado Wine & Jazz, Barrio Las Mazas 15, Liencres
      Chema Armengou (DJ set), Sergio Mayoral (trumpet) and Mabel Sierra (vocal) mix electronic and live music.
  • 9 February: The Dustaphonics @ New Planet Rock Bar, Calle Santa Lucía 8
  • 13 February: Pepe Habichuela @ Salón de actos de la Fundación Botín, Pedrueca 1
      I simply had no right to miss a concert of this humble legend of flamenco (he played with Camarón de la Isla and Enrique Morente, among others). And what a concert it was! Unfortunately, I didn’t catch the names of the singer and the percussionist, who were just as outstanding as maestro himself.
  • 14 February: El Pescao @ Carnival of Santoña
      I was told Santoña is about the only place in Cantabria worth visiting to see a carnival parade. Quite predictably, it was raining most of the evening, so my friends and I ended up in the big marquee in the centre of the town and saw El Pescao there. I never heard about this band before but, as I learned now, it is very popular. Lot of people actually knew the lyrics! I didn’t care much for their pop-rock songs but reggae/ska stuff was quite decent; I wish they played more of that.
  • 17 February: Adriana Blu & The Sugars @ Canela Bar, Plaza de Cañadio
      A talented singer and a great band playing jazz, soul, bolero and bossa-nova standards. They are based in Santander so I hope to see them again soon.

  • 18 February: Yakeen @ Rubicón
      A four-strong trio from Toulouse, comprising Adrien Aragón (steel string guitar), Matthieu Guenez (Spanish guitar), Dimitri Laboire (double bass) and a violinist who was introduced to the public as simply Matthieu. Not just another jazz manouche band, their repertoire includes compositions by Chick Corea, Paco de Lucía and Vicente Amigo. Two and a half hours (at least, not counting the interval) of pure sonic pleasure.
  • 20 February: Cromática Pistona @ Café de las Artes Teatro, Calle García Morato 4
      Wow. When you see a band like this, you are spoiled for choice: either sit and stare open-mouthed; go dancing; or, if you are feeling adventurous, go dancing open-mouthed. I chose the first option, not least because I didn’t want to trip over the cables in front of the band, whereas if I went to the cable-free area, I would lose the view of them, and probably my seat. Anyway, there were more than enough people who even knew how to dance swing. (According to the band’s Facebook page, “El principal objetivo de la Cromática es lograr que el público baile sin parar en los conciertos”.) Wonderfully happy and diverse music played with lots of humour and style.

  • 24 February: Hermes Quartet @ Canela Bar
      Hermes de la Torre (piano), Saúl Crespo (violin), Miguel Díez (cello) and Daniel Rodríguez (percussion) with special guests Eva Maza (vocal) y Jorge Pérez (recitative). A history of Cuban music from 1890 to the present.
  • 26 February: Hula Baby @ El Cazurro
      This was the first time that I was unable to progress to the main sitting (playing, dancing) room of El Cazurro. So I and my friend stayed by the bar, enjoying beer, nice food and a view of the public trying to dance while closely-packed. As for music, it was rather straightforward good old rock’n’roll well played but, thanks to the acoustic properties of the place, I wasn’t even sure which songs were sung in Spanish and which in English.
I’m tired of winter. Thank you Cantabria for the Carnival break (unheard of in the UK, though rather short by Canarian standards) and for all this music.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Plants and planetoids

by Timur Kulikov

Pencil, paper.


Plants: “A sketch I did at school.”


Planetoids: “A sketch I did of a neighbourhood in space. School was rather uneventful.”

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Fear of Flying

a film by Conor Finnegan

I’ve discovered this little gem thanks to Film English, a great resource for EFL teaching. Each lesson plan is built around a (deliberately) obscure short film, though of course you are free to use just a part of this plan. I was not quite sure how my preteen and teen students would react to the film. They loved it.

Just as recommended, I paused the film at about 05:25 and asked them what do they think Dougal would do. None of them guessed correctly but they had some good ideas.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

The Dustaphonics live

Last week, somewhere downtown, I saw a poster suspiciously similar to that of The Buttshakers gig. It got me intrigued but also made me a bit uneasy: if I go to see them, I thought, comparisons would be inevitable. I did a bit of online research and, while I enjoyed their studio work a lot, I couldn’t say the same about their live clips on YouTube. I had my doubts till the last moment. Good thing that you can save couple of euros buying entrada anticipada, which I did (I’ve got entrada nº 25!) in Cuchillería Ibáñez, Calle Guevara, 6, about one hour before the show started. (A curious establishment which apparently sells only two types of things: knives and concert tickets.) I am glad that I eventually got to the show, because the quality of the aforementioned live recordings simply does not do justice to the band.

I turned up to New Planet Rock Bar exactly on time (20:30) and found it tragically empty. The man on the doors assured me that it will start soon, maybe in quarter of an hour. Fifteen minutes later, there indeed were some people inside. The band (Hayley Red, vocals; Yvan Serrano-Fontova, guitar; Dan Whaley, bass; Eric Frajria, drums) were hanging around the bar looking a bit lost. But when they started playing, you could hear Quality straight away.

Now I can’t be sure but I think that at first the Londoners were a bit puzzled by the size and reaction of the audience. Hence numerous calls of “Come on, Santander!!!” persuasion which did not quite work, at least initially. In the end, The Dustaphonics did reach to the people through their sheer power of musicianship and made them sing and (sort of) dance. The songs, mostly originals, were awesome. I can’t say what style is it though. Wait, I actually can: it’s rock’n’roll, with bits of surf and soul here and there, but it’s rock’n’roll alright. As for the lady in front: can this girl sing the blues! And you know what, not even once were The Buttshakers on my mind during the show. Which is great, because now I love both bands. Unconditionally.

All in all, it was a resounding success. Don’t forget the public were not some random blokes but rock aficionados who made a special effort to come here on a Monday night. In Santander. Maybe it wasn’t exactly una bacanal de baile y desenfreno, but the band had elicited probably the biggest response from this audience one could ever hope for. Respect.

The Dustaphonics continue their Spanish tour this week with concerts in Pontevedra, Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao and Vitoria.