Ravenna Flamenco

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The Northwest Folklife Festival

posted in performance on may 28th, 2008

Hooray! I’ve finally had a performance at the Seattle Center that wasn’t in the food court! Granted this means I had to walk farther for my corn-dog, but they’re for purely research purposes only, so no harm done.

But enough about American haute-cuisine, there are show details to be had. And have them you will: This particular engagement was with La Peña Flamenca de Seattle and ran about 30 minutes. We played a fandangos, a bulería, a garrotín, a set of sevillanas, and a rumba. This particular show didn’t include the full Peña compliment of dancers, but there were still a good twelve or fifteen of them (in addition to the musicians and singers, that is).

For those of you not in the know, Folklife is a very large and obnoxious affair, featuring hundreds of local and touring music and performance acts and a higher hippie to yuppie ratio than is even legal north of the Ship Canal. The Peña performed on the International Dance stage and was the first in a series of four flamenco acts from the Seattle area. (Incidentally, I’ve browsed around for some video from the other groups, but with no luck. There is a video of the Seattle Ukulele Society doing a rousing rendition of "I Will Survive," but you won’t get the link from me!)

But enough chatter! How about some video? Here is the Fandangos, our opening number:

This was actually my own personal first "falseta" with the Peña, though you have to listen pretty hard to hear it. The other guitarist, Markus, and I were mic’d, but for some some reason that baffles me still, the sound guy never seems to have turned our mics up over about "one." (I don’t want to venture any guesses as to why this might have been—and even if I did, those guesses surely wouldn’t include any speculations regarding a pre-show visit to the "Hempfest" promo tent.)

Speaking of pre-show rituals, by the way, I had earlier (on this blog) speculated on the potentially deleterious effects of a very deliberate shot of good Irish whiskey before going on stage. Though I didn’t bring out the flask until post-show this time around, the Zamani dancers and I did have lunch (and a couple hefeweizens) before strolling over to the Center for Folklife. As I was actually fairly relaxed and able to enjoy myself on stage, I’m beginning to sense a connection. For the moment I don’t want to draw any rash conclusions; I will, however, keep you posted on further "tests."

In the meantime, how about another video? This was the last number we did, a rumba:

There were, of course, other dances in between, but in the interest of not creating yet another gratuitously long blog post, I’ll let you check those out on your own on the Peña Flamenca de Seattle YouTube channel.

My overall impression of the show as a whole? All in all I am quite happy with how it went: no major train wrecks, no decomposing produce thrown. That counts as good in my book. But this was far from the end of the evening. After Folklife about ten of us wandered back to our regular watering (i.e. beering) hole, The Two Bells. And we made a shocking discovery: through a series of cleverly concealed doors lies the Two Bells’ terrace! As in outdoors, center of the city, beer garden-esqe paradise. Zanbaka and I have been coming to this place for months and have only just now discovered this outdoor enclave. In true flamenco form, we quickly took it over (not that there were more than two other people who had made the same discovery). The pitchers flowed, food was had, and right about the time it was getting too dark (there were no lights) and blurry (you get the idea) to see, out comes the guitar and the fiesta was on.

From a guitar player’s perspective, here is the strongest argument yet for being solid on lo básico: there’s no way, after two (or three or four) beers that I can pull of Almoriama or Aires Choqueros (eh, who am I kidding—I can hardly play those stone sober), but the basic sevillanas, tangos, and bulería rhythms, no sweat. And rhythm is key—at this point, not a soul could have cared less what sort of fancy falsetas I could pull out, but falling out of compás could have brought the whole works to a grinding halt. Granted, I like to think that this particular group was kind enough to let a few gaffs slide (as they might have done), but one doesn’t like to test kindness, if you know what I mean.

And speaking of testing kindness, I can see that I have indeed again created a gratuitously long blog post. And you, poor soul, have read the whole thing (or skipped ahead, but whatever). In any case, thanks for your indulgence!

Now stop indulging and go play!


tags: peña, folklife, fandangos, rumba, video, juerga
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