Versos De Sal in memory of Victor Fernandez Gopar
Los Sabandeños y Antonio Corujo and Los Campesinos
El Salinero – Arrecife
At the end of these pages we will bring you some more details of the several exciting concert being put together for performance at Reducto Del Playa in Arrecife at the end of this month.
However, before I begin this first review I ought to issue a reader beware warning. As we left this beautiful theatre, all plush red velvet and large, comfortable seats and excellent views and friendly and helpful staff, we stepped out into the ten thirty darkness and, at the traffic lights, we crossed over the road to the football ground. I had parked in the same space I manage to somehow acquire every other Sunday when watching UD Lanzarote with my season ticket.
Suddenly, in the middle of the road, in the middle of our ´Beatles outside Abbey Road´ impression, my wife Dee dropped a bombshell. Almost in tears, she let go of my hand and said almost crossly, ´That’s it, I’m never coming to a concert with you again!´ I almost called out to let joy be unconfined, but thought better of it, and like all good husbands, apologised for I knew not what. Had I not bought her a choc ice, had I not been sufficiently attentive as I had become absorbed by the music, had I not commented on how hot, sorry, pretty she looked,….what had I done wrong? Then, in that sentence that women use to confirm its all over she said, ´it’s not you, it’s me´ but then, thank goodness, she corrected herself and said, ´well, it’s not me, it’s them,…..they were so good, it was all so amazing, and there’ll never be another concert like that. I’ve never seen or heard anything like it!´ And this, from a woman who has been to a Cliff Richard concert at The Manchester Arena. But,…she was right.
This concert had been staged in memory of the late Lanzarote poet Victor Fernandez Gopar, known as El Salinero, the name subsequently adopted by tonight’s venue. Versos de Sal was the title bestowed on this performance aiming to celebrate the work of the poet, born in Las Brenas in 1844, through a multi-disciplinary arts performance.
Tonight’s audience were treated to hear Antonio Corujo collaborating with renowned folk lore band Los Sabandeños whilst Los Campesinos
in turn interpreted, in dance, the musical renditions of Gopar’s poetry.
Antonio Corujo delivered a mixture of prose, poetry, song and timple music and accompanied some numbers with hand held, percussive ´clackers,´ making the audience smile and clap along as he delivered a memorable performance. Although I couldn’t understand a word he spoke, I couldn’t help but think of this man, in his suit, collar and tie and with his little box of musical tricks being almost a prop for his act, as reminding me somehow of the late Irish comic, Dave Allen. Like him, Corujo carried himself as a man who had seen life and who had loved most of what he had seen, and had still found vaguely comical that he had not loved. This set promised much for what was to follow and as Antonio exited stage left to ringing applause he was replaced on stage by Los Sabandeños.
The ensemble was 32 strong, all male and wearing white capes of a traditional style. Their musical back line was of percussion, electric bass guitar and flute, and there was a total of eight vocalists, with the rest of the group playing guitars, and other stringed instruments. Wonderful video back drops accompanied their songs about salt, sea, sun, sand and salt —- and showed Salinas and volcanic horizons, all emblematic of island life.
The musical outfit were joined by Los Campesinos in traditional dress. The ladies were dressed in calf length skirts and coloured blouses all of different colours and the men in trousers and a peasant shirt, cinched at the waist on the left hip, and all topped off with the ubiquitous black hat.
Six men and six women gave us dances reflecting work in the salt fields and also offered fast moving complicated routines that seemed to reflect romantic liaisons and somehow reminded me of Cajun dance, with its convoluted, but graceful, twists and turns.
So clear were some of the similarities that I actually found myself wondering whether the influence of Canarian music could have ever spread to, or itself been touched by, Cajun Music, (this musique acadienne as the French would have it), of ballads written and sung by French speaking Acadians of Canada, associated with Louisianna, USA.
When the dancers left the stage to riotous applause, Los Sabandeños proceeded to remind us of their global standing in the ´world music´ scene, singing and playing the music that has influenced them and that they in turn have had influence upon,….there was Bolero, there was music from Mexico complete with Mariachi strains, and from Venezuela, with a clear percussive identity. Then, in a segment that the accompanying backdrop labelled as Americanaries, there was music from American states such as Texas and of major cities around the USA.
The concert was one of energy, humour, call and response from one side of the stage to the other, music that came from high, low and in between that sometimes sounded choral and at other times crowd-like and anthemic but that seemed always celebratory. Songs were introduced seemingly informatively by a group member at the side of the stage, who also sang and played tambourine. The empathy shown by band members to each other and to the dancers and poet who were their guests was almost tangible and the passion and precision of all concerned was hugely impressive. Often throughout the evening the audience broke into spontaneous rhythmic clapping to accompany the musicians and there were frequent cries of bravo from the crowd in response to any particularly impressive piece of playing, singing or dancing either by the ensemble or individual. It was no surprise then that, as the band completed their final song, the audience rose to give an immediate standing ovation.
We filed into the foyer to queue to buy from a selection of CDs. We purchased ´Atlantico´ to add to our growing collection of albums by Los Sabandeños, to remind us, as if we could ever forget, what an incredible concert this had been.
Dee would never deliver on her promise, sorry, threat, to never attend another show, and, I knew her words to be an idle threat, because there are another dozen concerts on our calendar over the next two months that I’m sure she will want to attend, even if only to ensure that I don´t get up to no-good. What makes her threat of retirement even more impossible for her to deliver is that the final one of those concerts currently on our list is another performance by Los Sabandeños.
This one will be as another chapter of the 100 Years: Lanzarote And Cesar celebrations, which will see the group on the Scene Manrique stage on El Reducto in Arrecife in what should be a fantastic evening that also includes other major names in the folk lore music genre, with The Gofiones and Acetife.
See the foot of this article, and check out the Cabildo web site for what is a smorgasbord of wonderful cultural dishes over the next few weeks and, of course, keep your eyes on Miguel’s what’s on listings on his Lanzarote Information web site.
Guitar – Adrian Niz; Timple – Jose Pirez; Cantador
Ciro Conujo and daughter Mercedes
El Grifo Bodego – La Geria
When we first told our friends Iain and Margaret that we would be unable to attend a gig at the El Grifo Bodego last month, I think they assumed it was because we had told them Dee had declared ´no more concerts !´ This was because Dee had felt the concert described at the top of this review represented a time that Tom Paxton would have labelled as being ´when the wine was better than ever again and we could not ask for more.´
The truth was, though, that in making her pronouncement Dee had forgotten that we had already bought tickets in advance for another concert, and one thing my wife never does is allow already spent money to go to waste.
So whilst we would have loved to go with Iain and Margaret, given that the four of us have been planning to attend a live music performance together almost since live music was invented, the truth was that Dee and I would be listening to a young singer writer of contemporary songs whilst they were listening to something more akin to Spanish folk music. We agreed to subsequently swap notes but Iain and Margaret beat me to it with an almost immediate e mail after the event, which I paraphrase and interrupt below.
´All went well last night at the Bodega El Grifo concert,´ Iain told all across the arts. ´There was Adrian Niz on guitar, Jose Pirez playing timple and Ciro Conuja, a male cantador (tenor) vocalist. An earlier than usual start time (punctual for once) of 19.30 was welcome by all, it seemed, and so by that time, the room was almost full to capacity. We estimated there were just less than a hundred in attendance, amongst whom we appeared to be the only British fans. In the absence of any spoken introduction, let alone a printed programme, the trio launched into the music straight away.´
We, too, know the frustration of not having a programme for reference, but there is a cost to income ratio for artists and proprietors to consider, we suppose. We understand also, Iain’s frustration at there being no introduction to either the concert as a performance or to hardly any individual songs, but we assume this to be something Spanish fans are used to. And, to be fair, we have to say that one of our most unsatisfactory nights ever was in seeing Van Morrison in concert in Manchester. I say ´seeing´ advisedly because we certainly weren’t hearing him utter one spoken word, at all !
Nevertheless Iain was still pleased to credit the quality of the music at the Bodego gig.
´Right from the outset,´ he told us, ´you could ‘touch’ the empathy between the performers and it was obvious that they were comfortable with each other and had obviously performed together many times. Their act was polished, as might be expected as all three were ‘professionals’ in their own right. The music and songs were a mix from Lanzarote and from places as far away as Cuba and Mexico and seemed to be a mixture of both modern and traditional music.´
Dee and I have noticed many times that Spanish artists, whether they be musicians or working in any other art form, seem to love to collaborate, so we were not surprised to learn that the concerts each of we couples visited tonight provided such added value.
´We even had a guest performer,´ Iain remembered, ´in that Mercedes, the young, very confident daughter of the singer, was introduced and sang to the accompaniment of the musicians, which brought the house down while causing dad to become somewhat and justifiably emotional. Another two extremely passionate songs by dad at full volume had the audience spontaneously clapping and cheering during the renditions! On completion of the performance there were no less than three encores followed by a well-deserved standing ovation from everyone in the audience.´
Iain tempers this hugely positive review with one final observation, however.
´My only adverse comment would be about a now common practice,´ he told us. ´Members of the audience were videoing the performance on mobile phones held up at arm’s length without regard for others adjacent or in line of sight.´
Yeh, I get that Iain, and I´m on your side. However, many a time the poor folk next to me at a concert have to put up with me trying to scribble notes in the dark and then dropping my notebook and pen on the floor and scrambling around their ankles to find them. I hear them tutting and tittering as I search in vain, and I think to myself,…´huh, everyone’s´ a critic !´
MARWAN – Teatro ´El Salinero´ – Arrecife – April 2019
Dee, of course, changed her mind and joined me again in attending this concert at El Salinero, and whilst Iain and Margaret were at El Grifo, we watched contemporary singer-songwriter Marwan perform to a packed hall.
This acclaimed artist won the Guille award for best singer in 2011 and also composed the theme song, Palabra Por Palabra, for the eponymous tv show. He is of Palestinian and Spanish descent and his brother, Samir Abu-Tahoun Recio is the author of Cosas Que He Rota. Marwan has been playing guitar since he bought his first instrument at fifteen years old and had his first book of poetry, La Triste Historia De Tu Cuerpo Sobre El Mio, published in 2011. He has performed alongside Spanish rapper Nach and numerous other fellow poets and musicians.
Tonight, accompanied by a keyboard singer who also added vocal harmonies, Marwan, a more handsome look-alike than Liverpool striker Mo Salah, proved to be just as dynamic and entertaining and occasionally thrilling as his footballing counterpart. Sometimes his guitar runs were finger-picking pretty and sometimes they were loud clashing chords.
There were instances of soulful, melodramatic vocals and instances of wry humour and seemingly extemporised lyrics. Throughout it all Marwan held his audience, particularly his female fans, who clearly loved him, in the palm of his hand, at no time more firmly than when, without his guitar and microphone, he stepped off stage into the aisles of the theatre and sang, softly and ac appella.
Most of the songs tonight were showcasing Mis Pasajes Interiores, his successful album released in August 2017, and his fans responded wildly to songs they heard tonight from this eleven track recording. However, he also performed enough of his earlier work to keep the audience singing along and clapping rhythmically on several occasions.
We were probably the oldest couple in the theatre and probably also the couple who knew the least about the players on stage. Any understanding of the lyrics would surely have had us more greatly appreciate his humour and better understand the sadness of his songs, but there was no denying his charisma.
He sang songs and he read poetry and he made his audience laugh,…………we never caught a punch-line, of course, nor even the gist of a joke to be honest. However, some of this humour was obviously mildly flirtatious, and we noticed that the ladies in the audience did not seem to mind this at all.
He sang songs and he also read poetry that made his audience cry,….a gentleman sitting in front of us had to ask his female companion for a handkerchief as he cried softly to one of the gentler love songs.
Bearded and be-denimed, Marwan looks and sounds like a Springsteen rock and roller, but he is, too, a household entertainer, evidenced in the humble way he introduced a guest artist for a short spot. He even demonstrated a showman’s generosity to his accompanist, who in the encore finale surprised us by abandoning his keyboards for a brief fling with his guitar, and delivering an enthralling cameo solo performance. During the show’s protracted finale, Marwan profusely thanked his sound and lighting engineers and even invited on stage, to take a bow, the man who had successfully undertaken so much rapid re-stringing and re-tuning to Marwan’s guitars
So, Dee is back on the concert circuit, ready, from the anonymity of a seat in the theatre, to sing her heart out and clap along with any artist,… providing they are as engaging, soulful and good looking as Marwan !
Live music – Cabre y Equeso – Playa Blanca
Even after this, though, there was still time for some more music on the weekend. Come Saturday we were ´dancing in the dark´ in the square outside the church in Playa Blanca, to the music that some would argue immediately preceded rock and roll.
Dressed in their appropriate two-tone shirts, a four piece band were delivering early songs by Buddy Holly, Carl Perkins and the like, and were doing so with an authentic sound and a high energy.
Ladies in flared skirts and petticoats and guys in jeans and crepe soles jived at the foot of the stage beneath a string of flashing lights strung overhead. This was the music that had once heralded the change of the world, or so we then thought. However, it was perhaps Elvis and rock and roll that effected that change, and this music we were hearing again tonight, faded into an afterthought as popular music evolved.
Nevertheless, about forty years ago, and forty years after the apparent demise of what we hearing here and now in Playa Blanca, Terry Allen, a Texan singer writer, predicted, with one great song, that this rockabilly music would be revived and remain with us forever.
I was reminded of that song as I passed a merchandise stall selling those shirts in the colours invariably associated with rockabilly music and its followers. As I walked back down to the harbour car park Dee asked me what I was so tunelessly singing and I told her it was Pink And Black Is Coming Back by Terry Allen, and tonight a little band on Lanzarote had proved him right. I couldn’t find their name on any of the event literature, but if anyone can tell me on firstname.lastname@example.org I will let the rest of you know, and try to preview their future gigs, so we can all go rockabilly together.
Not only has it been music all the way on Lanzarote over the past few days but there has also been news of The Lanzarote Ensemble taking
Lanzarote music all the way to Berlin.
LANZAROTE ENSEMBLE IN BERLIN
Lanzarote Ensemble – Berlin – April 6th 2019
Lanzarote Ensemble recently landed in Berlin to deliver the world premiere of a work dedicated to César Manrique.
In the Georg-Neumann-Saal, at the Universitat der Künste the Orchestra continued a journey organised by the Cabildo de Lanzarote through the Department Of Culture, co-ordinated by Óscar Pérez.
The musical group, directed by Ayoze Rodríguez, arrived in the German capital with a repertoire giving prominence to The Canary Islands via the interpretation of “The Canary songs”, of Teobaldo Power (1848-1884). The most well known work of Teobaldo Power, that inspired the anthem of the Canary Islands, was interpreted here in Ayoze Rodriguez´ own adaptation. Lanzarote Ensemble even delivered a world premiere work entitled Four Sound Images Of César Manrique, a tribute to the artist from Lanzarote in the centenary of his birth, This has been specially created by composer Leandro Martín Quintero, Professor at the Conservatorio de Música de Canarias. The Four Sound Images Of César Manrique consist of movements based on four of Manrique´s artistic works. The composer successfully employs sound, rather than brushstroke, to capture Manrique’s visual sensations, immersing and provoking the listener with their unique atmospheres.The Repertoire was completed with the piece “Nonet in F Major Op.” 31 “, of the composer Louis Spohr.
After the concert, organized, with the collaboration of the Association of the Canary Islands in Berlin and the Lanzarote-Berlin friendship circle, the Minister of Culture of the Insular Council, Óscar Pérez, promised that “the premiere in the Canary Islands of the piece dedicated to César Manrique work will take place in July in Tenerife and in November in Lanzarote, at the ´Teatro Víctor Fernández Gopar ‘Salinero’. Between now and the, though, lies much more music, and we provide the details below.
100 YEARS: LANZAROTE AND CESAR
Looking ahead, there are several more concerts being given soon to show the breadth of the late Cesar Manrique´s musical taste, and we are pleased to list below what details we have received so far. All concerts detailed below are described in this month,s cultural agenda leaflets as taking place on the Manrique stage at Playa del Reducto, Arrecife. No details have yet been given as to whether there will be seating available, or whether we are invited to bring blankets, deck chairs and picnics, Woodstock style. Schedules are accurate at the time of going to press.
All events are free.
DATE TIME PERFORMANCE APPROX DURATION
24th April 8.30pm la Ilusion De Cesar duration 75 minutes
25th April 8.30pm Mucho (music) duration 70 minutes
25th April 10.0pm Iven Ferrero (music) duration 30 minutes
26th April 8.30pm Maru Cabrera (music) duration 50 minutes
26th April 9.30pm Taburiente (music) duration 50 minutes
26th April 10.45pm Taller Canario (music) duration 80 minutes
27th April 8.30pm Inadaptados (music) duration 70 minutes
27th April 10.00pm Ayaud Vacante (music) duration 80minutes
28th April 6.00pm Tarde De Timples(music) duration 80 minutes
30th April 8.30pm Bimini & Blackbelts(music) duration 70 mins
30th April 10.OOpm Brooklyn Funk (music) duration 80 minutes
1st May 8.30pm Beni Ferrer (music) duration 70 minutes
1st May 9.30pm Olga Cerpa (music) duration 80 minutes
2nd May 8.30pm Diego Barber (music) duration 70 minutes
2nd May 10.Opm Simbique project (music) duration 40 minutes
3rd May 8.30pm Goran Bregovic (music) duration 90 minutes
4th May 8.30pm Carmen Burana (opera) duration 90 minutes
5th May 6.00 pm Acatife (music) duration 50 minutes
5th May 7.00 pm Los Gofiones (music) duration 50 minutes
5th May 8.00pm Los Sabandeños (music) duration 80 minutes
Meanwhile, Fernando Castro Borrego, César Manrique biographer and Professor of History Of Art, visited the Almacen 1974 exhibition, part of the ´100 years: Lanzarote and Cesar´events in the El Almacén CIC, Friday, April 12 and afterwards spoke favourably fo the collection to the media. Two days later, the exhibition ‘Unpublished Manrique’, was officially opened on Sunday, April 14 in the Convent of Santo Domingo of Teguise, and should also be well worth a visit.