From Rock n’ Roll to Flamenco in Spain
It’s quite funny to me that while traveling I have experienced more amazing live music in just five months than in the past three years or more combined in Colorado. I guess it took traversing Italy and settling in Spain for loves and passions from within to come to life and surface. I’ve always loved music, especially live jazz music and classical philharmonic orchestras…and lyrics! Oh the lyrics! The words to a song are so important to me and the story a song tells is by far the most beautiful part of music. In Italy I got to experience my first opera, La Boheme, thanks to meeting and befriending the lead Soprano and her family while they were in Venice. Great story by the way, which you can read in my earlier post (Second Time to Venice, First Time to the Opera).
Now I have been in Spain since the end of June and what an array of music I have been experiencing! And it has only grown more and more. I may even end up singing in a jazz group! The music world is sucking me into Spain…and I love it!
During July I was in the Spanish region of Extremadura visiting my mom in a beautiful aged village. Set in the gorgeous rolling hills of rural countryside and under bright clear blue skies, I met a few of the locals who were dying for a singer for their rock band. Yes, you read correctly…their band of American classic rock music. And they became set on me singing with them. So sing I did. It was fun and we all enjoyed it for the pure pleasure of enjoying practices together, challenging ourselves to learn new songs, and sharpening our memory with memorization of notes and in my case, notes and lyrics. Tato played the drums, while Manuel drilled the bass and Juan wailed on the electric guitar. These guys have amazing talent, especially for the fact that they work full-time at other jobs so they don’t get to devote as much practice to music as they would love to and like others do. Yet boy, can they rock out! We would listen to the originals of songs that we wanted to learn and within a few minutes they would be playing it by ear. We practiced in a small room in the local school and at times it would get pretty warm so we’d take a break outside in the park and share a large liter of ice-cold beer in the dry-heat. Good times! Now that I think back to it, the group didn’t even have a name and I never did any gigs with them. But oh, the joy of taking a breath, opening my lips and singing words carried out along notes…hearing those notes flow up and down to create a melody as they followed the myriad of sounds that came together to play out a story, to create such wonderful music together.
My personal favorite was getting to have my youngest brother Brendan with us for the month. He played in the rock band with us and when we were at home relaxing, we would learn songs together; him on the guitar and I would sing to them. Not to brag or anything…well, okay yes to brag…Brendan is great at picking up songs on the guitar by ear and got from our mother her musical talent for the guitar. Our brother Markus is exceptional on the guitar as well and is in the process of studying classical and Spanish guitar. Yeah…music sort of runs in the family.
At the end of the month, I got the amazing experience of the best flamenco dance show I have ever seen, even better than what I saw in Seville at the Museo de Baile Flamenco. The performance took place in my mother’s village, Higuera la Real. The restored church has a recently renovated wing and interior courtyard for events. Not only was the setting magically romantic in its 17th century style, but it also took place in the courtyard, open to the vast dark sky of the night and the millions of stars that are so easy to see without any big-city lights in the area. The dancing was exceptional! There is no doubt that anyone would be immensely impressed and thrilled watching it, just as I was. Many times I found myself holding my breath when the intensity of their steps would accelerate into a frenzy of speed and accuracy that produced such a thundering sound, all an extension from the rawness of the voice singing to the powerful melody of the guitar. The impression that was the sweetest for me though was the strong tenderness blending with fierce sensual passion that emerged between the female and male dancers as they started apart and came together with such intense elegant movements that led them to intertwine…ah, sighhhh…words just cannot describe…the way his hand would caress her face and his arm would grace her waist as they turned, causing them to draw closer together. Or the arch of her body as she would lean into him, his strong stature steadfast and broad shoulders protectively leaning over her. All the while, their precise steps sounded out rich and fluid, loud yet so complimentary to the gracefulness of their moving bodies. They say that Flamenco dance and music embodies the raw emotional passion and heartache of the Spanish people…this experience made me feel that inside of me. For that reason, I call it an experience rather than a show or performance. It was by far so much more.
Since July, I have traveled to different parts of Spain and ended up settling in the town of Oviedo for August and September. Here is where the music scene has greeted me with open arms and seems to be all around me now. But…that is an entirely separate story to share. So check back in soon to read and discover, and perhaps even hear, what I mean. Encore!