Flamenco talk at Alba Flamenca on Friday went incredinly well! Big audience (with people turned away), delicious tapas and thrilling dancing from María ‘Tote’ Conte with Peter Standberg on guitar to formally end the night – a superb bulerias. I used a power point full of images and quotations and told the story using my own personal pathways to flamenco as springboard. These included my first meeting with flamencos Bernarda and Fernanda de Utrera, Ketama and Pata Negra at the ICA in the 1980s festival organised by Bob Wisdom; my first ‘live flamenco’ in Andalucía, in Marbella, Spain with my family which gave me the wonderful line ‘Scratch a hot night in Andalucía and you find flamenco’ which I used for my flamenco chapter in the Rough Guide to World Music. I described how 2003/4/ 5 /6 I went on quite a few of the fabulous Flamenco ‘Rutas’ radiating out of Seville – the Flamenco Routes, the brainchild of Manuel Macías who then worked for the Andalus tourist board. The mapped routes take you to key places and spaces including peña clubs in all sorts of beautiful villages and towns. Finally, my recent visits to the Seville Bienal and annual visits to the Jerez Festival, the crucible of flamenco past and present. I showed lots of lovely images – including many of the Santiago gypsy neighbourhood in Jerez – and of artists like Diego Carrasco, Miguel Poveda, Enrique Morente, Dolores Aguetas, La Macanita (from the amazing Mujerez album) – all artists featured on the two Rough Guide compilations I have had the luck to do – The Rough Guide to Flamenco and Flamenco Dance. I was able to sell some copies at a special price (thank you Phil, Brad, Neil!). I dedicated the talk to Mario Pacheco who founded the independent Madrid based Nuevos Medios record company from which many of the tracks were licensed. I first met Mario at that ICA event and from that meeting we did radio feature together on ‘new flamenco’ for what was then BBC Radio 4 programme Kaleidoscope (the forerunner of Front Row). From that Ketama trip to London came Lucy Duran’s invite for supper where Ketama met Malian kora player Toumani Diabate. It led to the groundbreaking Songhai project which Mario recorded with Joe Boyd of Hannibal Records with Lucy also producing. Mario was a lovely, always helpful friend who died of cancer in November 2011. I finished my Alba talk discussing where the ‘duende’ / ‘deep song’ discourses come from, focusing on Pastora Pavón ‘la Niña de los Peines’ appearance in Granada in 1922 at the ‘Deep song’ festival organised by Manuel de Falla and Federico García Lorca. I was able to show Estrella Morente’s re-enactment of this historic concert with one of her own involving many of her family, which was filmed for her 2005/6 DVD. I had been lucky enough to visit her father Enrique Morente in his home in the Albaicín when he was editing the DVD, doing an interveiw with him and Estrella which i published in fRoots. Morente himself died unexpectedly in December 2010, robbing flamenco of one of its most innovative, iconoclastic spirits, a man of enormous integrity, who loved the poets as much as rock. I enjoyed offering this event as those who came seemed to. Thanks to Pam and Saliha; and to Ivan (for technical help and then for singing!); to Tricia for the flyer; to Anne McFall for borrowing the projector from work; to Rosie for offering hers; to everyone at Alba Flamenca for a wonderful night; and to everyone who came! Huge thanks also to Peter, Ivan, Saliha and the other dancers who did a few unexpected numbers at the end – olé! Maybe we will try and do a second night sometime in the future for those who could not get in…? Meanwhile enjoy flamenco! I will be in Jerez from 4th – 14th March and will report here on this blog on shows I see there during this years Festival.
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