Ravenna Flamenco

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Kristos Eastlake

posted in performance on june 16th, 2009

Yes, that’s right: Zamani Flamanco is back at it! … er, back at performing full-length flamenco shows, that is. We’ve had a little hiatus while Zanbaka and Dani were "sangria-and-churro-ing" their way across southern Spain, but as of last Sunday night, we’re officially back in business!

And a festive return it was: Kristos Eastlake is a new Mediterranean/Greek restaurant in Seattle just east of Lake Union and has become Zamani Flamenco’s latest "home" for regular public shows. As anyone who has already been to Kristos will surely confirm, the space is big, wide open, and very blue. It’s also, as it turns out, got a nice sound – evidently people up in the loft could hear and see the show just as well as those sitting front and center.

But enough about the venue! Let’s talk about us! And let me begin by saying this: we’ve been working our butts off since Dani and Zanbaka’s return in order to get two full sets together and polished. In accordance with my particular mania, I insisted that we work up way too much material (I’m a big fan of the "better too much music than not enough" approach). On Sunday that meant that we ended up playing until something like 11:00 – and still has songs left over!

Much exhausting fun though that was, however, we’re going to shoot for an earlier (and perhaps a tad more "compact") show the next time around. All this does mean, though, that we’ll have new stuff to roll out from show to show and won’t have to recycle the same sets from one month to the next.

And speaking of future shows, Chris (the owner) has already booked us for another date. I still have to confirm with the rest of the group, but our tentative plan is to be out there again on the 12th of July at 8:00. Details and gratuitous amounts of publicity will follow shortly. (As with the June show, our plan is to keep the July date cover-free.)

But how, you must certainly be wondering, did the actual performance go? "Well" is the pithiest (if not particularly the most informative) answer. I should also note that this show was a lot different than shows we’ve done in the past – and in a good way. We’ve been working with a singer, Marta Sivertsen, more and more lately and had the welcome addition of her services on Sunday. Guitar and dance makes for a good performance, but there’s just no replacing a strong singer – and strong Marta definitely is!

Dani and Zanbaka were also in excellent form. Since we’ve reassembled (and rearranged) a lot of material that we hadn’t played together for three months, there was a little bit of ad hoc arrangement going on – an early verse or falseta here, an altered footwork there. We’re all still pretty good at reading each other, though, so if someone dropped a phrase or a step, the rest of us were able to catch right on, generally without missing a beat (both literally and figuratively).

Guitar-wise, I definitely feel like I’m getting more comfortable giving performances. In fact, prior to the show’s start, I was feeling (subjectively) pretty calm. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that my fingers weren’t a little stupid to start off with. As my wife (a physical therapist in training) would say, the problem is all in my autonomic nervous system, my "fight or flight" response. I suspect a more apt name for it is the "uncooperative finger response" – and if that’s supposed to help me fight or flee in any way, I’ll be damned if I know how.

Oddly enough, the "uncooperative finger response" manifested itself Sunday night in a near complete inability to arpeggiate. Rasgueado, alzapua, chording – no problems with any of that, but p-i-m-a-m-i was just kicking my ass. Go figure.

Luckily, all (or most, anyway) of this wore off after about three songs. By the fourth or fifth song I felt like I was pretty much playing up to my ability. Which isn’t to say everything was perfect from there on out, but at least I was spared the onerous vexation of not being able to pull off something as pedestrian as a double arpeggio.

Solo-wise, I played my Granaina, as I’ve done before, but I also debuted a Petenera – one I’ve been working on for a month or two but have yet to play in public. (We didn’t record the show, but I have a YouTube up of the Petenera in question (recorded in the safety of my dining room) here.) As it was my first time bringing this piece out in front of an audience, I was a bit concerned about what nerves might do – both to my fingers and to my memory – but, much to my pleasant surprise, the piece came off just as I would have hoped.

Which is to say I let myself get completely buried in the music, my fingers did what they were supposed to do, and the rest just followed. At one point I briefly tuned in to the room and noticed that everything else in the restaurant had gone quiet and that everyone had stopped talking. I took this as a good sign. (NB: When I say "everyone," I mean everyone except for a particular longtime band friend who, to the best of my knowledge, never stops talking, but that’s why we love her.)

Well, there’s more to tell, I’m sure – and hopefully some pics to post soon – but that’s all I have for now. If you’re in the area, please do come out and see us in July – Kristos is a great venue and has a truly tasty dinner menu.

And until then, as always: go play!


tags: kristos, zamani
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