Sunday, 31 December 2017

WOMAD Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

This year, WOMAD came (back) to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. It took place in Parque de Santa Catalina, 10—12 November. Exactly when I wasn’t there. Well, I can’t be everywhere. It must have been great.

Fortunately, on 3 December RTVE aired a two-hour program with highlights of the event. The video will be available until 3 May 2018.

Participants (in order of appearance)

  • Papaya (Canarias)
  • 101 Brass Band (Tenerife)
  • Tu Otra Bonita (Madrid)
  • Miroca Paris (Cape Verde)
  • Orkesta Mendoza (Tucson, Arizona)
  • Beating Heart (London, UK)
  • Horace Andy (Jamaica)
  • Profecía Crew (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria)
  • Kuarembó (Canarias)
  • Hindi Zahra (Morocco)
  • Niño de Elche (Spain)
  • Bombino (Niger)
  • La Dame Blanche (Cuba)
  • The Brand New Heavies (London, UK)

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Perfect Strangers and Link Floyd live

Deep Purple or Pink Floyd? When I were a lad, this question would really upset me: I grew up with these bands. Thankfully, this time around I didn’t have to choose between the two, thanks to our own Canarian tribute acts, Perfect Strangers and Link Floyd, playing their end-of-the-year concerts in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Timur, I and Harold attended both shows. In fact, we would never came to the second gig (Link Floyd at Teatro Guiniguada) if Emilio Sánchez, the vocalist of Perfect Strangers, hadn’t told us about it during their show in CICCA! That’s advertising Canarian-style for you.

Perfect Strangers played the vintage DP, with all the major Mark II and III hits: Child in Time, Speed King, Highway Star, Lazy, Woman from Tokyo, Mistreated, Soldier of Fortune, Knocking at Your Back Door, not to mention the very Perfect Strangers and that obligatory one about some stupid with a flare gun... There were surprises too, very much in Purple spirit, such as the Stormbringer quote within Burn, the Mark I first hit Hush, and one hell (or high water) of a drum solo in Space Truckin’.

Perfect Strangers

    Dave O’Connor: guitar
    Mathias Klatte: keyboards
    Javier Negrín: drums
    Emilio Sánchez: vocals
    Aaron Santana: bass

One week later, Link Floyd took us on an epic journey from Astronomy Domine and Echoes to (and through) The Wall. Man they can do it: like the entire darker second side of The Dark Side of the Moon, Pigs, Dogs... and the first five songs of The Wall plus Run Like Hell for an encore, how’s that? The band were so superbly faithful to the original that at times I wished they were, um, not and improvised more, or played the guitar solo on the sax or vice versa, or something. Anyway, it was magnificent. (Also, the sound at Guiniguada was much better than that at CICCA.) How I wish you were here.

Link Floyd

    Besay Brehcist: lead guitar, vocals
    Sergio Casquero: guitar, vocals
    Javier Guerra: bass
    Fran Navarro: drums
    Rafael Santana: keyboards
    Kenneth Suárez: guitars, keyboards, vocals

    Ángel Fernández Bordón: saxophones
    Patty Brichis: backing vocals
    Virna Ceballos: backing vocals
    Violeta Millares: backing vocals

Wednesday, 27 December 2017


a film by Anahí Berneri

Alanis is a story of a few days from life of María aka Alanis (Sofía Gala), a single mother and a prostitute. A story refreshingly told without glamourising her profession or portraying her as a victim or judging her. I’m sure, it’s deemed to be labelled “controversial” — society is more at ease with women cleaning toilets than being sex workers. María is neither looking for a prince charming nor going to “change her ways”. Magnificent work; shame that you most likely won’t see it.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Cuentos de Odesa

by Isaac Babel
translated by Marta Sánchez-Nieves
illustrated by Iratxe López de Munáin

In spite, or maybe precisely thanks to, his famous surname, Isaac Babel (1894—1940) remains little known in the West. This slim volume, published in 2014, introduces to Spanish readers the first four of Babel’s Tales of Odessa (Одесские рассказы), viz. El rey (Король), Qué sucedió en Odesa (Как это делалось в Одессе), El padre (Отец) and Liubka la Cosaca (Любка Казак), lovingly retold by Marta Sánchez-Nieves and accompanied by some wonderful illustrations by Iratxe López de Munáin. Great work Ediciones Nevsky — I hope the rest of Cuentos follow suit soon!

Los maleantes se miraban, y solo Benia parecía no darse cuenta y estaba desconsolado.
— Me están estropeando la fiesta — gritaba realmente desesperado —, queridos, por favor os lo pido, comed, bebed...
Pero en ese instante apareció en el patio el mismo joven que había venido al empezar la tarde.
— Rey — dijo —, tengo que decirle un par de palabras...
— Bueno, pues dilas — respondió el Rey —, tú siempre tienes un par de palabras de reserva...
— Rey — dijo el joven desconocido, y empezó a soltar risitas —, es que es muy divertido, el cuartel de policía está ardiendo como una vela...
Los comerciantes enmudecieron, los maleantes sonrieron. La sexagenaria Manka, la fundadora de los bandidos de arrabal, se llevó dos dedos a la boca y lanzó un silbido tan estridente que sus vecinos se echaron a un lado.
— Mania, no está en el trabajo — le advertió Benia —, más sangre fría, Mania...
Налетчики переглянулись тогда друг с другом. И только Беня, ничего не замечавший, был безутешен.
— Мине нарушают праздник, — кричал он, полный отчаяния, — дорогие, прошу вас, закусывайте и выпивайте...
Но в это время во дворе появился тот самый молодой человек, который приходил в начале вечера.
— Король, — сказал он, — я имею вам сказать пару слов...
— Ну, говори, — ответил Король, — ты всегда имеешь в запасе пару слов...
— Король, - произнес неизвестный молодой человек и захихикал, — это прямо смешно, участок горит, как свечка...
Лавочники онемели. Налетчики усмехнулись. Шестидесятилетняя Манька, родоначальница слободских бандитов, вложив два пальца в рот, свистнула так пронзительно, что ее соседи покачнулись.
— Маня, вы не на работе, — заметил ей Беня, — холоднокровней, Маня...

Monday, 18 December 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

a film by Rian Johnson

Yesterday, Timur and I went to see The Last Jedi (all of them) in Monopol, which is the only place here that offers it in VOSE. Episode VIII is the second Star Wars movie that I’ve ever watched on a big screen, the first one being rather dismal Revenge of the Sith that Yuri and I saw some 12 years ago.

If a real Star Wars fan you are, love hate never forget it you will. It’s probably the best worst most Starry Warry movie this Millennium Falcon (well, I The Force Awakens see didn’t). I myself quite enjoyed it. My main issue with this film is the lack of proper baddies. I mean, Supreme Leader, played by Gollum, is some kind of Snoke joke, and Kylo Ren is simply not bad enough — give us at least a GygaRen! I liked DJ (well done Benicio del Toro) but he’s not a real villain either. Also, I tend to agree with Natasha Lomas that it would be the best to finish the Star Wars saga right here. Instead, next Christmas endure Han-less, Luke-less and most likely Leia-less Episode IX we must.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Postcards from Porvoo

If you happen to find yourself in Porvoo, wondering where to look for something quintessentially Porvoonian that won’t break your bank, especially now, in run-up to Christmas... Stop messing around, it’s time to shop for some of Minna Lehväslaiho’s naïve art!

You can find her shop/studio bang in the centre of old Porvoo, at Jokikatu 53, overlooking the river. You’ll love it, I promise. The postcards are from €2.00 (totally worth it), but if you want to spend more, have a closer look at the original paintings.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Mariza in Las Palmas

To mark the 20th anniversary of its opening, the Auditorio Alfredo Kraus hosts a series of cool concerts includng that of Mariza. Luckily, this one was not sold out weeks in advance (as it was the case with Ara Malikian).

It was a great show. Mariza sang a few “fado fado” songs and quite a lot of non-fado material. And if anyone was annoyed with that, they didn’t show it. The auditorio was (almost, but not completely) full and the public were behaving themselves. Mariza can hold that looong pause... and all these pauses the audience went totally silent. They were so uncharacteristically quiet that Mariza at first had a problem making them sing Rosa Branca (in Portuguese, naturally). In the end, after a five or six minute-rehearsal, she succeeded.

Quem tem, quem tem
Amor a seu jeito
Colha a rosa branca,
Ponha a rosa ao peito
Mariza may be a fado superstar but she also was super charming, chatting away in her portuñol, giving a lot of credit and a lot of space to her band. During the encore, she walked down to the stalls, shook hands with all of the audience she could reach and thanked them for coming. (She did not come up to the balcony where I was sitting though.)

What with this being a part of Mariza’s Mundo tour, I was expecting her CDs on sale but no. Even if she hates signing her albums, people still would buy them. A missed opportunity, I say.

    Mariza: vocals
    José Manuel Neto: Portuguese guitar
    Pedro Jóia: Spanish guitar
    Fernando Araújo: bass guitar
    Hugo Marques: drums, percussion

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Guardians of the Louvre

by Jiro Taniguchi

千年の翼、百年の夢, literally “A thousand-year wings, a hundred-year dream”, known in the West as Guardians of the Louvre, was the last manga series created by Jiro Taniguchi (1947—2017). Last year, it appeared in the Comic-Con’s panel of The Best and Worst Manga of 2016 on the list of “Worst Manga for Anyone, Any Age”. Naturally, I was intrigued. Why did they hated it so much? I’m sure that evern the worst manga by Taniguchi cannot qualify for this ambitious title.

In fact, I quite liked it. I prefer Taniguchi’s line drawing but in this case the use of colour is totally justified. Guardians of the Louvre may be not as moving as A Zoo in Winter or A Distant Neighborhood but the drawing is exquisite and I learned a thing or two about that famous museum where I’ve never been.

The English-language version still has to be read back to front, right to left and then up to down.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

31 to Inktober

by Timur Kulikov

This year, Timur took part in the Inktober challenge and duly delivered 31 drawings. All of them could be found on his blog; here I post my five or six favourites.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Live music in Santander and beyond, November 2017

And now, dear reader, the promised last.

  • 1 November: Albericola @ Rvbicón, Calle del Sol 4, Santander
      A brain-child of Cuban-born Ledian Mola (double bass), this innovative ensemble features Lucas Tauzin (vibraphone), Victor Vega (trumpet), Eolo Andino (sax), Nico Alfaro (guitar), Franco Cavalleri (piano) and Nasim López (drums).

  • 5 November: Mr. Kilombo @ Haddock Bar, Calle Valliciergo 6
      Just a man with a guitar in a tiny bar... A half of the audience (those who were to the right) turned out to be surprisingly familiar with his songs and were singing along all the way. A quarter of the audience were chatting by the bar (on the left). The remaining part were trying to listen, at the same time (unsuccessfully) shushing the others.
  • 7 November: Jazztedigo @ Bar Canela, Plaza Cañadío 5
      A trio featuring Rubén Bubby Ortiz (guitar), Saúl Crespo (violin) and Germán Caprara (drums) offers a fascinating journey through the 20th-century history of jazz.
  • 8 November: El Cuarteto de Ningún Lugar @ Rvbicón
      A prog-rock band featuring Vicent Huma (guitar), Martín Léiton (bass guitar), Pablo Martin Jones Johnston (percussion) and Borja Barrueta (drums). They played one composition that lasted a bit over one hour and another one (encore?) of about 15 minutes. After the concert, I had a chat with the musician only to establish that this was their first, and probably the last ever, performance. I had it recorded on my mobile phone and thus own their complete discography so far.

  • 11 November: Canteca de Macao @ Palacio de Vistalegre, Madrid
  • 14 November: Perla Batalla @ Rvbicón
      Perla Batalla was accompanied by César Latorre (piano) in her moving tribute to Leonard Cohen. She even made the normally silent Rubiconian audience sing Dance Me to the End of Love and Hallelujah.

  • 15 November: The Way Out @ Rvbicón
      An avant-garde quartet from Copenhagen, Denmark featuring TS Høeg (alto saxo), Mads Egetoft (tenor sax), Jonathan Aardestrup (double bass) and Jens Lopes (drums). Free jazz is not my glass of øl as I normally get bored quickly. This was not the case with The Way Out, thanks to their virtuosity, quirky sense of humour and overall brilliance.

  • 16 November: Osaka Monaurail @ El Almacén de Little Bobby, Calle del Sol 20
      Another world-famous band that I never heard (about) before they came to shake Santander (among other places on their European tour). “The kings of Asian funk”, Osaka Monaurail are Ryo Nakata (vocals, dance, keyboards and percussion), Kentaro Yamagata (trumpet), Taihei Awaji (trumpet), Shimon Mukai (tenor sax), Tsuyoshi Ouchi (trombone), Dan Hayami (guitar), Yuichi Ikeda (guitar), Dai Nakamura (bass) and Soki Kimura (drums).

  • 18 November: Freedonia @ Escenario Santander, Avenida de la Constitución 39 (Parque de las Llamas)
      I saw them this August in Bilbao and they were awesome. Now I saw them a bit closer and... they were as, or more, awesome.

  • 19 November: Shanna Waterstown @ El Almacén de Little Bobby
      One more discovery: a blues, soul and funk singer born and raised in Florida, USA, now residing in Paris, France. Shanna Waterstown was accompanied by Jay Gogan (guitar), Gianpaolo Feola (drums) and Jal Hohy (bass). The band played a mix of classics and original themes from Shanna’s new album; alas, this was the last concert of her Spanish tour and the CDs were sold out before the Santander gig. It happened to be the last live music event I had been to before moving south.

Goodbye, Santander. It was fun. I’ll miss the music and Dougall’s beer.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Canteca de Macao: El último trago

A few weeks ago, chatting about Spanish music with one of my students, I mentioned that Chambao announced the plans to play their farewell concert in January 2018. “The same story with Canteco de Macao!”, she exclaimed.

Really? That very evening, I went to check the band’s website only to find this...


Ha llegado el día de daros la noticia. Quizá la más difícil y emotiva que hemos dado nunca. Después de 14 años de aventura, Canteca de Macao se despide como banda. Es la hora de cerrar un ciclo que ha marcado nuestro camino como individuos y como parte de una generación. Se agolpan muchos sentimientos que traduciremos en música durante este año y queremos compartir con vosotros cada segundo siendo conscientes del valor que tiene estar sobre el escenario formando parte de este sueño que ha sido posible gracias al trabajo de mucha gente y, sobre todo, gracias a vosotros. El sentimiento que nos invade es ante todo la nostalgia. Nos vienen miles de recuerdos. Nos miramos a los ojos sabiendo que es el momento de hacerlo y nos fundimos en un abrazo común para desearnos suerte, para consolarnos en cierta forma, para saborear todo lo que ha significado para nosotros esta banda que ha sido nuestra vida misma. Es la hora del cierre y de brindar con el último trago. A lo largo de todo este tiempo, hemos visto cómo nos colábamos en la banda sonora de vuestras vidas, os hemos visto crecer con nosotros y hemos recibido vuestro calor y vuestro cariño. Por eso os invitamos a brindar con el último trago en la única y gran fiesta de despedida que tendrá lugar el ..... de Noviembre de 2017. Un concierto único y a lo bestia en todos los sentidos, donde los sentimientos estarán a flor de piel y que significará el cierre de una etapa que llevaremos siempre en el recuerdo y en nuestro código genético.

Salud, compañeros. Ha sido el mayor de los placeres. Desde lo más profundo de nuestro corazón:


Although their 2015 album, Lugares comunes, already sounded like a farewell, I couldn’t quite believe what I just read. I first saw the band five years ago in Fuerteventura and was hoping to see them again ever since... And here was my (and anyone else’s) last chance. Still incredulous, I went to Ticketea and, without much thinking, bought a ticket for the last ever concert of Canteca de Macao, to take place on 11 November 2017 in Palacio de Vistalegre, Madrid. Next day, I read on the band’s Facebook page that the concert was sold out.

Madriz!!! Until now, I’ve never been to Madrid. By some reason, I avoid places which are far away from the sea, but this time I had no choice. Believe it or not, the cheapest (as well as the fastest) way to visit Madrid that weekend was to fly with Iberia. Crazy but true: one-way ticket from Santander to Madrid costs more than return ticket. Madrid was a pleasant discovery for me. A big city, however quite negotiable by public transport and with easy-to-get-around (by foot) centre.

As farewell concerts — I never been to one until now — go... this one could have been organised better. The never-mentioned-before teloneros (support band) played some nondescript Anglophone pop for three-quarters of an hour. I wonder who invited them. What surprised me the most was the enthusiastic singing-along by many Canteca “fans”. I wish people didn’t smoke joints in a closed space. I wish the security (the very same security who checked my bag and didn’t allow anyone to bring bottled water etc. inside) could do something, anything, when a brawl involving some drunkards erupted. I wish all of them were banned from the future Canteca concerts. Oh, wait.

Just before the show, I decided to take a photo featuring Harold the hedgehog (not shown here).
“Is this a hedgehog?”, enquired one young concert-goer.
Yes, I confirmed (the obvious).
“Do you always take him with you?”, she went on.
No, I said, but we always go to Canteca de Macao concerts together.
“Enjoy”, she said, apparently satisfied with my answer.

CdM played non-stop for some two and half hours. As much as I wish they didn’t disband, I applaud their decision to sing their swan song now, at the top of their powers. Sure, it was sad, but in the same time happy and funny and full of positivity; also, of confetti and balloons. This is how CdM wanted to be remembered. I am glad I made it there. I wish you were there too.

Somos la vida que viene, somos la vida que pasa, somos la lumbre que queda y que la llama lo mantenga...

So long, Canteca. It was a honour.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Live music in Santander and beyond, October 2017

Three years ago, on Halloween, I published my first report of this kind. I’m happy to tell you that it’s not the last — I leave Santander at the end of November.

  • 4 October: Klezmer Clarinete Band @ Rvbicón, Calle del Sol 4, Santander
      For the last time, you don’t have to be Jewish or anywhere from Eastern Europe to play klezmer already. This lovely local project (all players live in Cantabria) features Héctor Abella (bass clarinet), Katia Aboli (clarinet), Antonio Gutiérrez (clarinet), Manuela Pozo (clarinet) and Víctor Aja (percussion).

  • 7 October: Benavent/di Geraldo/Pardo @ Teatro Campos Elíseos, Calle de Bertendona 3 bis, Bilbao
      Carles Benavent (bass), Tino di Geraldo (drums) and Jorge Pardo (sax and flute). It was a pleasure to see one-third of the Paco de Lucía sextet (CB and JP) some 21 years since I last saw them. Coming to Teatro Campos Elíseos straight after the Barinatxe beach was probably a mistake.
  • 11 October: Pau & Hamer @ Jimmy Glass Jazz Bar, Calle Baja 28, Valencia
      An unusual combination of French horn and electric guitar (Pau Moltó and Manuel Hamerlink, repectively) proved to be unexpectedly suitable for charming jazz ballads.
  • 13 October: Berklee Showcase VII @ Amstel Art, Veles e vents, Valencia
      Six up-and-coming bands made up of students of Berklee Valencia: Emma Sundvik and All Cats (jazz), Precious Perez (pop/R&B), Dan Caton & The Ladies in Waiting (American folk), giantQUEEN (neo-soul), Oro Velvet (Mediterranean folk) and Stereo Pocket (funk fusion).
  • 18 October: Rotem Sivan Trio @ Rvbicón
      On his European tour, the New York-based guitarist Rotem Sivan was accompanied by Rubén Carles (double bass) and Alessandro D’Anna (drums).

  • 21 October: Dani Nel·lo @ Kafe Antzokia, Calle San Vicente 2, Bilbao
      Dani Nel·lo (tenor sax) presents his new project, Los saxofonistas salvajes, featuring Pere Miró (baritone sax), Dani Baraldés (guitar), Hector Martín (guitar), Matías Míguez (bass), Anton Jarl (drums) and Albert Sabater (percussion). If you ever wondered if anyone still plays rock’n’roll as if 1960s never happened, here’s the answer. And a damn good one at that. The support band, Ghost Number & His Tipsy Gypsies, were not bad either.

  • 22 October: Homenaje Tom Petty @ Rvbicón
      I have to admit that I don’t know much of Tom Petty’s music beyond Traveling Wilburys, so for me this tribute by local musicians who came to play one, two or three songs each was not only emotional but also educational. Unfortunately, I don’t know (and didn’t make any note of) the participants apart from Yenia Popova of Chebú, whose performance was simply breathtaking.
  • 25 October: Ales Trío @ Rvbicón
      Saúl Crespo (violin), Antonio Romero (double bass) and Joansa Maravilla (oud, guitar and percussion): fusion of Spanish, Middle Eastern and Balkan music with jazz. Original compositions and themes such as Anouar Brahem’s Astrakan Café and Kroke’s Sun.

  • 29 October: The Hillbilly Moon Explosion @ Escenario Santander, Avenida de la Constitución 39 (Parque de las Llamas)
      Oliver Baroni (slap bass, vocals), Emanuela Hutter (vocals, guitar), Duncan James (guitar, vocals) and Sylvain Petite (drums) played their idiosyncratic mix of rockabilly, rock’n’roll, surf and swing. Fantastic show, shame about the venue (dark and far from anywhere) and (lack of) publicity: I learned about this concert just a couple hours before, and that was only because I went for a lunch in Taberna Santoña (Calle Peña Herbosa, 18) and saw there this poster.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Schau mich nicht so an

a film by Uisenma Borchu

I didn’t do any research prior to watching this film in CASYC (calle Tantín 25, Santander) and assumed (wrongly) from the title, “Don’t look at me that way”, that it is shown in its original English language. I was right about the “original language” though. It was screened in German and Mongolian, with Spanish (and German, in Mongolian sequences) subtitles.

This film defies easy categorisation. There is a fair amount of comic scenes, nudity and sex, however it is neither comedy nor erotica but something completely else. The fact that the protagonists, Hedi and Iva, are played by the first-time actors (Borchu and Catrina Stemmer, respectively) makes it feel very spontaneous, at times even documentary-like. At other times, the borders between reality and dream are blurred. When the shocking final scene comes, you are left wondering to which world(s) it belongs. Don’t look at me that way: it’s up to you what way to look at it.

The poem read by Iva’s father (Josef Bierbichler) is nothing else than Brecht’s Erinnerung an die Marie A. (Reminiscence of Marie A.); you may have heard the David Bowie version from Baal.

Bertolt Brecht
Erinnerung an die Marie A.
Bertolt Brecht, translated by John Willett
Remembering Marie A.
An jenem Tag im blauen Mond September
Still unter einem jungen Pflaumenbaum
Da hielt ich sie, die stille bleiche Liebe
In meinem Arm wie einen holden Traum.
Und über uns im schönen Sommerhimmel
War eine Wolke, die ich lange sah
Sie war sehr weiß und ungeheuer oben
Und als ich aufsah, war sie nimmer da.

Seit jenem Tag sind viele, viele Monde
Geschwommen still hinunter und vorbei
Die Pflaumenbäume sind wohl abgehauen
Und fragst du mich, was mit der Liebe sei?
So sag ich dir: Ich kann mich nicht erinnern.
Und doch, gewiß, ich weiß schon, was du meinst
Doch ihr Gesicht, das weiß ich wirklich nimmer
Ich weiß nur mehr: Ich küsste es dereinst.

Und auch den Kuss, ich hätt’ ihn längst vergessen
Wenn nicht die Wolke da gewesen wär
Die weiß ich noch und werd ich immer wissen
Sie war sehr weiß und kam von oben her.
Die Pflaumenbäume blühn vielleicht noch immer
Und jene Frau hat jetzt vielleicht das siebte Kind
Doch jene Wolke blühte nur Minuten
Und als ich aufsah, schwand sie schon im Wind.
It was a day in that blue month September
Silent beneath a plum tree’s slender shade
I held her there, my love so pale and silent
As if she were a dream that must not fade.
Above us in the shining summer heaven
There was a cloud my eyes dwelt long upon
It was quite white and very high above us
Then I looked up, and found that it had gone.

And since that day so many moons, in silence
Have swum across the sky and gone below.
The plum trees surely have been chopped for firewood
And if you ask, how does that love seem now?
I must admit: I really can’t remember
And yet I know what you are trying to say.
But what her face was like I know no longer
I only know: I kissed it on that day.

As for the kiss, I’d long ago forgot it
But for the cloud that floated in the sky.
I know that still, and shall for ever know it
It was quite white and moved in very high.
It may be that the plum trees still are blooming,
That woman’s seventh child may now be there
And yet that cloud had only bloomed for minutes,
When I looked up, it vanished on the air.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017


by Paco Roca

Wrinkles? I don’t mind wrinkles (Arrugas, Rides etc.), in all this ageing business it’s memory loss that scares me the most. It’s not a laughing matter and definitely not a comic material.

Or so you’d think until you read this comic book. You won’t laugh out loud, but it’ll make you smile more often than you’d expect. Just try to get quickly past the first few pages which I found rather depressing.

A few days ago, a friend told me about the Valencian collective Les Veus de la Memòria, the first and only choir of Alzheimer’s patients in Spain. As I was watching the trailer of the documentary, I couldn’t help thinking who of its protagonists could be Emilio and who Miguel.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Live music in Santander, September 2017

The fourth edition of Raqueros del Jazz, organised and hosted by my beloved Rvbicón, is the first (and so far the only) jazz festival I’ve managed to attend in its entirety. It is unclear why the word raquero (according to one theory, derived from the English word wrecker) was used to name the festival, apart from giving it a Cantabrian flair. (There is a great interview with Marcos which still doesn’t shed any light on this.) I’d rather see it named Revolucionarios del jazz, because that’s exactly who these musicians are. If you are not convinced, look at the artwork. All the concerts took place in Rvbicón except the closing Big Bang de Santander which happened just outside of Rvbicón.

  • 5 September: Juan Sebastián Blue Note Trío featuring Bob Sands
      A friendly warning to all prospective parents: if you name your child “Johann Sebastian”, don’t be surprised if he turns a composer and virtuoso keyboard player. On the opening night of the festival, the young pianist Juan Sebastián Vázquez was joined by Francisco Manuel López (double bass), Daniel García Bruno (drums) and Bob Sands (saxophones). As much as I enjoyed Bob Sands’ emotive sax solos, the best two compositions this evening were sax-less.

  • 6 September: Juan de Diego Trío
      The Three Sources and Three Component Parts of this trio are Juan de Diego (composer and trumpeter; also, the brother of Víctor de Diego whom I saw in the very same venue in July), Dani Pérez (guitar) and Joe Smith (drums). If you have a chance to see them live, you won’t need me telling you that their music is nothing short of revolutionary.

  • 7 September: Noa Lur Quintet
      Noa Lur is an amazing jazz singer and certainly my biggest discovery on this festival. She mostly sings in English, but also in Spanish and even sang two songs in Basque, which, until now, I considered the second (after German) least suitable language for singing on planet Earth: Errua, from her latest album Trouble Maker, and Badakit, from her debut album of the same name. She was accompanied by David Sancho (piano), Ander García (bass), Alberto Brenes (drums) and Mauricio Gómez (sax).

  • 10 September: Jairo León
      Jairo León says that he is not really a pianist, just a Gypsy who uses piano to express himself. Ignore that, just listen to what he plays. He is the flamenco pianist. On this occasion, León was accompanied by Rubén Pérez (percussion), Yoni León and Yon Gabarri (handclaps), Juan Saiz (flute) and Dani Simons (bass).

  • 13 September: The Machetazo
      The Machetazo consists of Jorge Castañeda (piano), Daniel Juárez (sax), Nacho Fernández (guitar), Darío Guibert (double bass) and Mikel Urretagoiena (drums). Their album, 1290 Prospect Place, is named after the ridiculous brick house the members of the band were sharing in New York. (Look it up on Google Maps!)

  • 14 September: M.A.P.
      “M.A.P.” is simply the acronym of the surnames of the musicians Marco Mezquida (piano), Ernesto Aurignac (sax) and Ramón Prats (drums). They played for an hour or so without a single pause, fusing their highly original compositions in one single track. I wanted to buy a CD but they only had a two or three with them which were sold as soon as the concert ended. I told the sax player, perhaps a bit abruptly, that they came unprepared. To my surprise, he agreed with me and kindly ran to the hotel where he stayed to bring some more!
  • 24 September: Big Band de Santander
      Perhaps the least revolutionary of all, the BBS nonetheless provided a fitting end to the festival. The concert was originally scheduled on 17 September but moved to the following Sunday in the hope of improved weather. And the weather turned out to be really good. The Big Band de Santander featured Carol Martín (vocal), Antonio Pérez (alto sax), Luis Arroyabe (alto sax), Francisco Villanueva (tenor sax), Adolfo Noriega (tenor sax), Manuel Cavero (baritone sax), Benjamín Blanes (trumpet), Miguel Angel Duart (trumpet), Alberto Vaquero (trumpet), Jose Manuel Bolado (trumpet), Edu Diz (trombone), Jose Ávila (trombone), Rafael Santana (piano), Antonio Gutiérrez (double bass) and Rodrigo Irizábal (drums). The highlights included Big Spender, The Pink Panther Theme and Oye Como Va.

A couple more of musical events that I’ve been to this month included one utterly underwhelming and the other über-wonderful.

  • 20 September: Luz Odey & Co. @ Rvbicón
      The vocalist Luz Odey was accompanied by Gerardo Ramos (guitar), Jorge Ramos (sax) and Joansa Maravilla (drums).
  • 22 September: The Buttshakers @ El Almacén de Little Bobby, Calle del Sol 20
      Almost three years after I first saw them, The Buttshakers were back, even more buttshakingly awesome.