Miguel Poveda – Recital de flamenco

If you like flamenco, you’ll like Miguel Poveda, simply because of his love and affection for flamenco.

He started his concert in Sadler’s Wells on the 8th of July with a little teaser of his album “Enlorquecido” where he paid tribute to the poet Federico García Lorca with songs composed to his poems and letters. It was only 2-3 songs but it showed the passion of one man towards the art and life of another man, which is emotional and moving to see.

Then the real flamenco started! Alegrías, bulerías, tangos, a guajira, a petenera and a few other simple, but true, authentic flamenco songs. In a world where everyone searches for themselves and tries to express themselves via but not always strictly with flamenco only, it is appreciated to listen to the original stuff sometimes. Especially from someone who was born into a world that had nothing to do with flamenco, and still his love and passion for this art form, together with his talent in singing have made him one of the top flamenco singers of our time.

What makes Miguel Poveda even greater as an artist, are the musicians surrounding him, and the way he treats them on stage.

I was thrilled to see that I knew every one of the artists accompanying Miguel, but even if I didn’t, Miguel introduced everyone one by one. El Londro from Jerez singing and clapping; Carlos Grilo, master clapper from Jerez (oh lord that contra-beat he claps so perfectly on time and with so much passion in the bulería!); Jesús Guerrero a new talent in the guitar, not only accompanying but composing; Paquito Gonzalez on percussion and drums, who accompanied Paco de Lucía on his last album; and last but not least, El Choro dancing. I like the dancers who don’t only focus on footwork, but they dance. The dance with their arms, with their bodies, with their souls. Antonio Molina, El Choro is one of them.

One of the highlights of the concert was actually a bulería performed by the musicians without Miguel. So much emotion and energy. I could hear the people around me in the audience clapping the rhythm with the feet, moving their hands and heads, as we all enjoyed the song.

Miguel’s English has still room for improvement, but English and non-English speakers both enjoyed listening to him trying and entertaining us (including himself!) with his improvised words and phrases.

The tango to finish the concert was just brilliant. Miguel and co. made a great show, and it was the cherry on top when Miguel invited up to the stage Jesús Carmona, who was sitting in the audience, and he danced a bit at the end. The process of Choro taking off his shoes ON STAGE, Jesús taking off his white trainers ON STAGE, exchanging shoes ON STAGE, while Miguel sang and the musicians played, has just shown that improvisation is possible, it does happen, and it gives us a unique experience of a concert. Thank you all!

All in all, it was an excellent concert. There is only one thing I would mention to Miguel for next time. In today’s day and age where diversity and inclusion are such hot topics across areas of age, ethnicity, gender, disability, LGBT+ etc. Where were the women in the show? To be fair to Miguel, he has had La Lupi as dancer on his concerts for years, so this may be a one-off, still my eyes missed the ladies on stage. Hopefully next time.

Until then all the best Miguel, you are still a phenomenon!

Sara Baras – Sombras

Finally, the London Flamenco Festival has started!

Who else could be the first artist to perform on the festival, than the internationally celebrated and known, Sara Baras.

3rd of July, was her second day of performance out of the six. She and her show ‘Sombras’ (Shadows) occupies the first half of the festival. Sara Baras, the “showman”.

I haven’t seen her for years, but she hasn’t changed much. She still has the same smile, young and fresh. She still has that cheekiness of the south of Spain; she plays on stage with the public, winking, joking, throwing kisses, involving the audience fully.

Her shows haven’t changed much either. She still loves playing with lights, colours and her dresses. She still brings many musicians, I was happy to hear live for the first time Rubio de Pruna and Israel Fernández (and what hair, wow), but also saw some new faces I didn’t know, together with some new instruments I didn’t expect!

The footwork of Sara is still fast and impressive, but too much for my taste. Technique is not all, the heart has to be there. And I’m sure she puts all her heart in her shows, but it must be difficult (if not impossible) to give the same each and every night over a week.

The game with light and shadow, sound and silence, and the stage design are definitely still her strengths! Just like the musicians she has with her; beautiful solos from the percussionists and the saxophonist!

Unbelievable for me to realise how her arms can be recognised from a million. Always the same, strong, straight, moving up and up and up. Missing the soul though. Interesting how the arms of María Pages and Sara Baras are so different, yet so recognisable both.

The mariana “Yo vengo de Hungría” is dear to my heart for obvious reasons (I’m Hungarian!), so was nice to hear parts of it in the show! And always nice to find little hints and gestures to artists like Paco de Lucía and Enrique Morente.

But the best of all, is that my friend Mirawa came with me, and I got to show a little piece of flamenco to someone new!

Someone who didn’t know flamenco before.

Someone, who still has the entire world of flamenco ahead of her to discover.

Lucky her!

The festival continues and I will be back with more updates soon…

This is the final countdown… tirititiiii

The countdown has started…. there are 3 days left until the London Flamenco Festival!

From 2 -14 July the festival is on and I have so many tickets, I can hardly believe it!

London peeps, it’s still not too late to get your tickets!

Come and enjoy flamenco in the London summer!

Here is the program again:

Sadler’s Wells

2-7 July     Ballet Flamenco do Sara Baras: Sombras

8 July        Miguel Poveda: Recital de cante

9 July        Rocio Molina: Fallen from heaven

10 July      Dorantes, Tim Ries, Adam Ben Ezra, Javi Ruibal with guest artist Jesús Carmona: Flamenco meets jazz

11 July      Olga Pericet

12-13 July Gala Flamenca: Mercedes Ruíz, Eduardo Guerrero, María Moreno

14 July       Patricia Guerrero: Catedral

Lilian Baylis studio

6 July  Shubbak festival – Amir ELSaffar Ensemble: Luminiscencia

12 July David Carmona

12 July Kiki Morente

13 July Jesús Carmona

13 July Sergio de Lope

Note: our friend, Javi Ruibal will be playing on the festival with Dorantes on 10 July, and (!) he has recently released his first album “Solo un mundo”, available on www.losuyo.es. With each CD purchased, he plants a tree, so even more motivation to get it!

Change…

… is good.

I truly and honestly believe it is. Sometimes it is difficult to live through the changes though.

You move house, and although the new place is bigger and brighter, you still cannot find your place in it.

Your best ever colleague/friend accepts another job, being an excellent opportunity and the best decision professionally, but it suddenly becomes clear that you won’t be working together again for a while.

Tomorrow is the last day of a colleague of mine in the office. At work we are surrounded by numbers, but in reality, he is a jazz musician. Even though we have never been close friends, we have talked so much about music, it created a connection between us beyond numbers and charts.

Change, change, change.

None of them necessarily bad changes, some of them even good ones! But the mood is affected, and it takes time to digest and accept.

I heard this song this morning again and it just described my present mood perfectly.

Please do click on the link, most people never click on the links, when this blog is supposed to be about music. Music that needs to be listened to.

Listen to this song.

Before going to bed, waiting in a bus stop, or just closing your eyes for a few minutes.

To stop and think of change. Change is good. Let’s embrace it.

Paco Del Pozo: Oblivion

(Paco del Pozo is a flamenco singer from Madrid singing here “the quick years, memories starting to hurt like a blow, i don’t want to see time.”

“los años veloces, los recuerdos empiezan a doler como golpes, no quiero ver el tiempo…”)

 

Jerez. He- what?

During intensive periods of life, there is no time (or simply willingness) to spend on extras, like for example writing your blog. So first, you start publishing the posts that you have written earlier, trying to prepare for these periods. When the pre-written posts are all published, you try to change tone and instead of the informative posts, you publish short posts aimed at the emotions. Then it’s publishing time again, and there is nothing written, nothing planned, no new ideas, intensity of life is still at all time highs, but you are too busy even to stress about the blog, and when friends start to mention the lack of posts, you start thinking again how to reinvent yourself. The continuous thinking makes you realise that the blog has celebrated its one-year-birthday in the meantime, but you were too busy to remember, or as a matter of fact, to celebrate….For God’s sake, it’s been one year I started writing a blog! And it’s about flamenco!

Round of applause, please.

Although I’m neither famous nor reached a million followers, and didn’t even get free tickets to a flamenco festival, my love for flamenco is unchanged, I still love writing the blog, my friends like it, I got people listen to more flamenco and I have had readers from countries like Madagascar and Australia! Total success.

So I decided to go back to my roots in blog writing. The roots I had (a year ago! ha!) when I started writing the blog. Simply writing about the flamenco I know about, without wanting to inform and educate beyond my knowledge. Informal and interesting, fresh and exciting.

A marketing expert would probably not agree with my choice of adjectives – I still need courses on “the use of words in blog writing to increase number of readers”, but at least it’s authentic, and at the moment, that’s all I can offer. Authenticity. (A tope)

So I wrote about this town in the province of Cádiz: Jerez (pronounces in Spanish as He-res). Jerez de la Frontera to be precise. When you start listening to flamenco, and hear artists introduce themselves, besides their name, they always say where they come from. For many, this is is their proof of authenticity. So I started hearing Jerez more and more.

La Paquera, José Mercé, Moraíto, the Terremotos, Capullo de Jerez, Mercedes Ruíz, Santiago Lara, David & Alfredo Lagos, David Carpio, just to mention a few; they all come from Jerez.

Jerez is a town where flamenco overflows in every corner of the town, and probably every second person could go and perform on stage, they have it so deep inside of them, their heart beats to the rhythm of bulerías. I am lucky to know a “jerezano” (a person from Jerez). The uncle of A, Cuqui. Engineer by profession, flamenco at heart. He has never made a living of flamenco, but it’s very much part of his day-to-day life. On every family gathering or fiesta, he would be clapping the rhythm, “jaleando”, encouraging people to dance and enjoy themselves, sometimes he would even sing! Jerez is full of people like Cuqui. Flamenco lovers, artists at heart, but not on a professional level.

Jerez is also known as one of the towns of the triangle of flamenco, together with Seville and Cádiz. It means that these towns are considered as the cradle of flamenco, as flamenco has been present here for 2-3 centuries, and much of today’s flamenco is originated from here.

Jerez has two famous flamenco neighbourhoods: San Miguel and Santiago. Artists from Jerez specify where they are from, adding additional information about themselves and their styles to the experts knowing the difference!

Jerez has not one, but two flamenco festivals of its own. The festival of Jerez is organised annually around February-March time, with shows and courses known internationally. My article about the festival can be read here. The Fiesta de la Bulería is organised in August, with the direction of the dancer María del Mar Moreno this year. It will be hot in Jerez in August, but those hot summer nights tend to be the most magical ones!

But Jerez is not only famous in the flamenco world! When you talk about Jerez, you must talk about sherry and horses! The town is home to the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art, who are dedicated to the preservation of the equestrian arts, if you ever want to see some dancing horses! Once you are there, don’t miss visiting one of the famous sherry maker bodegas. In the UK, sherry is known as granny’s drink, but there are actually many different types of sherry, many of them not sweet at all, not granny’s drink at all! My favourite is the fino, which is the driest and has the lightest colour of all. Nothing like a very cold fino on a hot summer evening in my father in law, Antonio’s garden in El Puerto… There is a nice blog from Karen on WordPress about “The home of sherry” as some call Jerez.

So just remember, for horses, sherry, and flamenco: Jerez, the place to be.

Listen

I am a person of words. I like reading, I like writing, I like conversing and exchanging opinions with words.

But words are not necessarily always the best or the only option. As I’m growing older, I agree with this more and more.

Sometimes we just have to listen.

Click here, close your eyes and let the music take you on a journey.

Emotions & Flamenco

(Photo by aNTO)

A day after my 29th birthday I quit my job in the City of London, after months of hesitating, thinking, considering: am I giving up? Have I tried hard enough? Should I be trying harder? Is it worth trying more? Is this the job I want at all? Am I throwing away a well paid job in a moment when people are struggling to find work? What should I do? What is the right decision? Hundreds of similar, personal and professional questions in my head day after day, month after month. Again and again and again.

It was a difficult time (difficult, in the first world sense, of course). During these months I found relief in music. In flamenco, mostly, but not exclusively. I listened a lot to this song. The good and the bad, sang by Duquende (‘Lo bueno y lo malo’, originally from Ray Heredia). I could feel every music note in the song as my own heart beat. My dilemma was exactly the same. What’s good and what’s bad? Personally, I knew I had to leave. Professionally, the decision was not that straight-forward. Career changing decisions are never easy to make, but they always pay off. (Orsi, you will see!) Eventually, I did quit, and looking back, it was the best decision of my life.

How much did the music help? God only knows… But I know it made me cry, and through the tears, each day I got closer to the decision I so feared, but changed my life forever.

Funnily, before our friend Paco moved back to Madrid to start his new life with his beautiful wife Maria, we had a long conversation about how he also found emotional connection to flamenco through one particular song. Despite the fact that none of us grew up surrounded by flamenco, or even had any childhood memory with flamenco, a Hungarian and a Catalan were able to identify themselves with the emotions transmitted by flamenco, and be moved by them.  This is the magic of flamenco reaching people with different backgrounds!

Flamenco is not as strange as it may seem at first. I remember when I moved to Madrid and A. first put on some flamenco in our tiny flat in Lavapiés. Odd, surprising, were my first impressions. Fair enough; I have never heard anything similar before. With time though, I hopelessly fell in love with flamenco: first with the more joyful songs, where the rhythm is catchy, easy to enjoy and follow, like tangos and bulerías, then with the more sorrow tientos, soleá and so on. At first, it’s probably easier to identify with the happy emotions in a new art form, like for example Camarón’s I am gipsy (Yo soy gitano). Just like, my friend Mac did, who started listening to flamenco after reading about it here!

But as one gets familiar with the flamenco sounds, one will discover the beauty of songs like Vicente Amigo:’s Réquiem , even though it is totally different. Different mood and clearly different aim. Without knowing it is written for Paco de Lucía, or without understanding the words, the emotions are there. A beautiful and moving farewell, and also a great example of how flamenco is capable of transmitting emotions beyond borders and cultures.

I could spend the night listing examples of beautiful and moving flamenco songs to prove how anyone can find emotional connection to music previously not known to them, but it is getting late, and my nights are still not about sleeping 8 hours straight in my bed. So let me finish with my all time favourite:  the eternal Fernanda de Utrera and her “Se nos rompió el amor“. There was a time in my life, when I had it on repeat, and listened to it a hundred times at least: when love is gone, it’s gone. Many of us know the feeling and can relate to it. Listen to the song sang by Fernanda and you will never forget it…