Ravenna Flamenco

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Flamenco: The Saga Continues (or, “An Update from the Trenches”)

posted in performance on july 5th, 2008

Yes, yes – I can see it now: you’ve read this blog a time or two, found it mildly amusing, perhaps marginally insightful (in "what-not-to-dos" if nothing else), and have, recently, noticed blog posts getting further apart, taking on more of a frantic, even later night than before kind of air. I can even hear you say to yourself, ah, that Andy guy is running out of steam; he didn’t have it in him to write about flamenco. But wait, dear reader! I must protest! Andy has simply been friggin’ busy! And busy playing guitar at that!

And as this blog is all about how one gets busy playing guitar, here be the details: First (as you may or may not know), last weekend was the big bi-annual Peña Flamenca de Seattle show [videos to follow shortly]. This was my third such show and, as far as I’m personally concerned (and as one would hope these things would go), the best yet. By this I mean, for the most part, that I was actually able to relax a bit on stage and enjoy performing. (Egocentric, I know, but it is my blog, no?) For anyone who has read (or cares to delve back into) peña posts past, this relaxation thing is a new on-stage state of being for Andy. To recap, performing in front of people had simply made me edgy as hell. And it made my fingers stupid and recalcitrant.

This time around, however, I felt only the slightest twinges of either of these afflictions (i.e. digital stupidity and/or recalcitrance … and – for those of you keeping track – didn’t even hit the flask until intermission!). I can only surmise that my recent spate of trio work at the Walrus Theater (where I found myself psychically nude on stage with a mere two dancers behind whom to hide) is the reasonable explanation for these newfound steely nerves of mine. This is not to say I was basking in confidence up there, but I am happy to report that I was able (for the most part) to quell the auto-destructive tendencies of my central nervous system and enjoy the moment.

And of course we all know that preparation for a two hour long peña show makes for a busy guitarist. But this is far from the end of the story. I’ve also been filling out sets for the Zamani Flamenco trio, with whom I’ll be playing two full shows in July. This will be a potentially informative chapter in the continuing performance anxiety saga: Will the nerves hold out? You’ll find out when I do!

And where, you ask, are said shows to take place? The first one (on the 16th of July) is in Port Townsend, WA, at a spot called The Upstage. The second one (July 24th) will be a bit closer to home, at the Northside Grill in Greenwood. [Do check out the Zamani Flamenco calendar for show specifics.]

Formal engagements have not, however, been all that’s been occupying my ten fingers and merely marginally compromised frontal cortex. The infamous Evie Terlingchamp recently (as in last night) hosted an equally infamous Fourth of July party – complete with gratuitous grilling, mildly hallucinogenic cocktails, and – of course – flamenco. Rachel, Dani and I (sharing the stage with our friends Erin Lau and Daniel Azcarate from Barrio Flamenco) got to experience the good fun of playing flamenco amidst the intermittent freeforall of uninhibited fireworks explosions. (Should you happen through West Seattle, you’ll recognize Evie’s neighbors by their missing digits and singed eyebrows.)

Urban artillery aside, this was a great setting in which to play. I’ve come across occasions like this before – and they never cease to remind my why I took up guitar in the first place: being on stage in front of the faceless mass is one thing, but being up-close and making a personal connection with the people for whom one is playing is quite another. It’s also (lucky us) and ideal setting for flamenco.

And there you have the update on Andy’s flamenco wanderings: highly organized big shows, relatively organized small shows, and the unbridled chaos of the 4th. If there’s a lesson here for how to "find" flamenco outside of Spain, perhaps it’s this: always have a guitar handy and play when the opportunity strikes.

I’ll keep you updated as to how that strategy works out…

Now you – go play!


tags: peña, barrio flamenco
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