Monday, 11 December 2017

Postcards from Porvoo

If you happen to find yourself in Porvoo, wondering where to look for something quintessentially Porvoonian that won’t break your bank, especially now, in run-up to Christmas... Stop messing around, it’s time to shop for some of Minna Lehväslaiho’s naïve art!

You can find her shop/studio bang in the centre of old Porvoo, at Jokikatu 53, overlooking the river. You’ll love it, I promise. The postcards are from €2.00 (totally worth it), but if you want to spend more, have a closer look at the original paintings.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Mariza in Las Palmas

To mark the 20th anniversary of its opening, the Auditorio Alfredo Kraus hosts a series of cool concerts includng that of Mariza. Luckily, this one was not sold out weeks in advance (as it was the case with Ara Malikian).

It was a great show. Mariza sang a few “fado fado” songs and quite a lot of non-fado material. And if anyone was annoyed with that, they didn’t show it. The auditorio was (almost, but not completely) full and the public were behaving themselves. Mariza can hold that looong pause... and all these pauses the audience went totally silent. They were so uncharacteristically quiet that Mariza at first had a problem making them sing Rosa Branca (in Portuguese, naturally). In the end, after a five or six minute-rehearsal, she succeeded.

Quem tem, quem tem
Amor a seu jeito
Colha a rosa branca,
Ponha a rosa ao peito
Mariza may be a fado superstar but she also was super charming, chatting away in her portuñol, giving a lot of credit and a lot of space to her band. During the encore, she walked down to the stalls, shook hands with all of the audience she could reach and thanked them for coming. (She did not come up to the balcony where I was sitting though.)

What with this being a part of Mariza’s Mundo tour, I was expecting her CDs on sale but no. Even if she hates signing her albums, people still would buy them. A missed opportunity, I say.

    Mariza: vocals
    José Manuel Neto: Portuguese guitar
    Pedro Jóia: Spanish guitar
    Fernando Araújo: bass guitar
    Hugo Marques: drums, percussion

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Guardians of the Louvre

by Jiro Taniguchi

千年の翼、百年の夢, literally “A thousand-year wings, a hundred-year dream”, known in the West as Guardians of the Louvre, was the last manga series created by Jiro Taniguchi (1947—2017). Last year, it appeared in the Comic-Con’s panel of The Best and Worst Manga of 2016 on the list of “Worst Manga for Anyone, Any Age”. Naturally, I was intrigued. Why did they hated it so much? I’m sure that evern the worst manga by Taniguchi cannot qualify for this ambitious title.

In fact, I quite liked it. I prefer Taniguchi’s line drawing but in this case the use of colour is totally justified. Guardians of the Louvre may be not as moving as A Zoo in Winter or A Distant Neighborhood but the drawing is exquisite and I learned a thing or two about that famous museum where I’ve never been.

The English-language version still has to be read back to front, right to left and then up to down.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

31 to Inktober

by Timur Kulikov

This year, Timur took part in the Inktober challenge and duly delivered 31 drawings. All of them could be found on his blog; here I post my five or six favourites.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Live music in Santander and beyond, November 2017

And now, dear reader, the promised last.

  • 1 November: Albericola @ Rvbicón, Calle del Sol 4, Santander
      A brain-child of Cuban-born Ledian Mola (double bass), this innovative ensemble features Lucas Tauzin (vibraphone), Victor Vega (trumpet), Eolo Andino (sax), Nico Alfaro (guitar), Franco Cavalleri (piano) and Nasim López (drums).

  • 5 November: Mr. Kilombo @ Haddock Bar, Calle Valliciergo 6
      Just a man with a guitar in a tiny bar... A half of the audience (those who were to the right) turned out to be surprisingly familiar with his songs and were singing along all the way. A quarter of the audience were chatting by the bar (on the left). The remaining part were trying to listen, at the same time (unsuccessfully) shushing the others.

  • 7 November: Jazztedigo @ Bar Canela, Plaza Cañadío 5
      A trio featuring Rubén Bubby Ortiz (guitar), Saúl Crespo (violin) and Germán Caprara (drums) offers a fascinating journey through the 20th-century history of jazz.
  • 8 November: El Cuarteto de Ningún Lugar @ Rvbicón
      A prog-rock band featuring Vicent Huma (guitar), Martín Léiton (bass guitar), Pablo Martin Jones Johnston (percussion) and Borja Barrueta (drums). They played one composition that lasted a bit over one hour and another one (encore?) of about 15 minutes. After the concert, I had a chat with the musician only to establish that this was their first, and probably the last ever, performance. I had it recorded on my mobile phone and thus own their complete discography so far.

  • 11 November: Canteca de Macao @ Palacio de Vistalegre, Madrid
  • 14 November: Perla Batalla @ Rvbicón
      Perla Batalla was accompanied by César Latorre (piano) in her moving tribute to Leonard Cohen. She even made the normally silent Rubiconian audience sing Dance Me to the End of Love and Hallelujah.

  • 15 November: The Way Out @ Rvbicón
      An avant-garde quartet from Copenhagen, Denmark featuring TS Høeg (alto saxo), Mads Egetoft (tenor sax), Jonathan Aardestrup (double bass) and Jens Lopes (drums). Free jazz is not my glass of øl as I normally get bored quickly. This was not the case with The Way Out, thanks to their virtuosity, quirky sense of humour and overall brilliance.

  • 16 November: Osaka Monaurail @ El Almacén de Little Bobby, Calle del Sol 20
      Another world-famous band that I never heard (about) before they came to shake Santander (among other places on their European tour). “The kings of Asian funk”, Osaka Monaurail are Ryo Nakata (vocals, dance, keyboards and percussion), Kentaro Yamagata (trumpet), Taihei Awaji (trumpet), Shimon Mukai (tenor sax), Tsuyoshi Ouchi (trombone), Dan Hayami (guitar), Yuichi Ikeda (guitar), Dai Nakamura (bass) and Soki Kimura (drums).

  • 18 November: Freedonia @ Escenario Santander, Avenida de la Constitución 39 (Parque de las Llamas)
      I saw them this August in Bilbao and they were awesome. Now I saw them a bit closer and... they were as, or more, awesome.

  • 19 November: Shanna Waterstown @ El Almacén de Little Bobby
      One more discovery: a blues, soul and funk singer born and raised in Florida, USA, now residing in Paris, France. Shanna Waterstown was accompanied by Jay Gogan (guitar), Gianpaolo Feola (drums) and Jal Hohy (bass). The band played a mix of classics and original themes from Shanna’s new album; alas, this was the last concert of her Spanish tour and the CDs were sold out before the Santander gig. It happened to be the last live music event I had been to before moving south.

Goodbye, Santander. It was fun. I’ll miss the music and Dougall’s beer.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Canteca de Macao: El último trago

A few weeks ago, chatting about Spanish music with one of my students, I mentioned that Chambao announced their plans to play their farewell concert in January 2018. “The same story with Canteco de Macao!”, she exclaimed.

Really? That very evening, I went to check the band’s website only to find this...


Ha llegado el día de daros la noticia. Quizá la más difícil y emotiva que hemos dado nunca. Después de 14 años de aventura, Canteca de Macao se despide como banda. Es la hora de cerrar un ciclo que ha marcado nuestro camino como individuos y como parte de una generación. Se agolpan muchos sentimientos que traduciremos en música durante este año y queremos compartir con vosotros cada segundo siendo conscientes del valor que tiene estar sobre el escenario formando parte de este sueño que ha sido posible gracias al trabajo de mucha gente y, sobre todo, gracias a vosotros. El sentimiento que nos invade es ante todo la nostalgia. Nos vienen miles de recuerdos. Nos miramos a los ojos sabiendo que es el momento de hacerlo y nos fundimos en un abrazo común para desearnos suerte, para consolarnos en cierta forma, para saborear todo lo que ha significado para nosotros esta banda que ha sido nuestra vida misma. Es la hora del cierre y de brindar con el último trago. A lo largo de todo este tiempo, hemos visto cómo nos colábamos en la banda sonora de vuestras vidas, os hemos visto crecer con nosotros y hemos recibido vuestro calor y vuestro cariño. Por eso os invitamos a brindar con el último trago en la única y gran fiesta de despedida que tendrá lugar el ..... de Noviembre de 2017. Un concierto único y a lo bestia en todos los sentidos, donde los sentimientos estarán a flor de piel y que significará el cierre de una etapa que llevaremos siempre en el recuerdo y en nuestro código genético.

Salud, compañeros. Ha sido el mayor de los placeres. Desde lo más profundo de nuestro corazón:


Although their 2015 album, Lugares comunes, already sounded like a farewell, I couldn’t quite believe what I just read. I first saw the band five years ago in Fuerteventura and was hoping to see them again ever since... And here was my (and anyone else’s) last chance. Still incredulous, I went to Ticketea and, without much thinking, bought a ticket for the last ever concert of Canteca de Macao, to take place on 11 November 2017 in Palacio de Vistalegre, Madrid. Next day, I read on the band’s Facebook page that the concert was sold out.

Madriz!!! Until now, I’ve never been to Madrid. By some reason, I avoid places which are far away from the sea, but this time I had no choice. Believe it or not, the cheapest (as well as the fastest) way to visit Madrid that weekend was to fly with Iberia. Crazy but true: one-way ticket from Santander to Madrid costs more than return ticket. Madrid was a pleasant discovery for me. A big city, however quite negotiable by public transport and with easy-to-get-around (by foot) centre.

As farewell concerts — I never been to one until now — go... this one could have been organised better. The never-mentioned-before teloneros (support band) played some nondescript Anglophone pop for three-quarters of an hour. I wonder who invited them. What surprised me the most was the enthusiastic singing-along by many Canteca “fans”. I wish people didn’t smoke joints in a closed space. I wish the security (the very same security who checked my bag and didn’t allow anyone to bring bottled water etc. inside) could do something, anything, when a brawl involving some drunkards erupted. I wish all of them were banned from the future Canteca concerts. Oh, wait.

Just before the show, I decided to take a photo featuring Harold the hedgehog (not shown here).
“Is this a hedgehog?”, enquired one young concert-goer.
Yes, I confirmed (the obvious).
“Do you always take him with you?”, she went on.
No, I said, but we always go to Canteca de Macao concerts together.
“Enjoy”, she said, apparently satisfied with my answer.

CdM played non-stop for some two and half hours. As much as I wish they didn’t disband, I applaud their decision to sing their swan song now, at the top of their powers. Sure, it was sad, but in the same time happy and funny and full of positivity; also, of confetti and balloons. This is how CdM wanted to be remembered. I am glad I made it there. I wish you were there too.

Somos la vida que viene, somos la vida que pasa, somos la lumbre que queda y que la llama lo mantenga...

So long, Canteca. It was a honour.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Live music in Santander and beyond, October 2017

Three years ago, on Halloween, I published my first report of this kind. I’m happy to tell you that it’s not the last — I leave Santander at the end of November.

  • 4 October: Klezmer Clarinete Band @ Rvbicón, Calle del Sol 4, Santander
      For the last time, you don’t have to be Jewish or anywhere from Eastern Europe to play klezmer already. This lovely local project (all players live in Cantabria) features Héctor Abella (bass clarinet), Katia Aboli (clarinet), Antonio Gutiérrez (clarinet), Manuela Pozo (clarinet) and Víctor Aja (percussion).

  • 7 October: Benavent/di Geraldo/Pardo @ Teatro Campos Elíseos, Calle de Bertendona 3 bis, Bilbao
      Carles Benavent (bass), Tino di Geraldo (drums) and Jorge Pardo (sax and flute). It was a pleasure to see one-third of the Paco de Lucía sextet (CB and JP) some 21 years since I last saw them. Coming to Teatro Campos Elíseos straight after the Barinatxe beach was probably a mistake.
  • 11 October: Pau & Hamer @ Jimmy Glass Jazz Bar, Calle Baja 28, Valencia
      An unusual combination of French horn and electric guitar (Pau Moltó and Manuel Hamerlink, repectively) proved to be unexpectedly suitable for charming jazz ballads.
  • 13 October: Berklee Showcase VII @ Amstel Art, Veles e vents, Valencia
      Six up-and-coming bands made up of students of Berklee Valencia: Emma Sundvik and All Cats (jazz), Precious Perez (pop/R&B), Dan Caton & The Ladies in Waiting (American folk), giantQUEEN (neo-soul), Oro Velvet (Mediterranean folk) and Stereo Pocket (funk fusion).
  • 18 October: Rotem Sivan Trio @ Rvbicón
      On his European tour, the New York-based guitarist Rotem Sivan was accompanied by Rubén Carles (double bass) and Alessandro D’Anna (drums).

  • 21 October: Dani Nel·lo @ Kafe Antzokia, Calle San Vicente 2
      Dani Nel·lo (tenor sax) presents his new project, Los saxofonistas salvajes, featuring Pere Miró (baritone sax), Dani Baraldés (guitar), Hector Martín (guitar), Matías Míguez (bass), Anton Jarl (drums) and Albert Sabater (percussion). If you ever wondered if anyone still plays rock’n’roll as if 1960s never happened, here’s the answer. And a damn good one at that. The support band, Ghost Number & His Tipsy Gypsies, were not bad either.

  • 22 October: Homenaje Tom Petty @ Rvbicón
      I have to admit that I don’t know much of Tom Petty’s music beyond Traveling Wilburys, so for me this tribute by local musicians who came to play one, two or three songs each was not only emotional but also educational. Unfortunately, I don’t know (and didn’t make any note of) the participants apart from Yenia Popova of Chebú, whose performance was simply breathtaking.
  • 25 October: Ales Trío @ Rvbicón
      Saúl Crespo (violin), Antonio Romero (double bass) and Joansa Maravilla (oud, guitar and percussion): fusion of Spanish, Middle Eastern and Balkan music with jazz. Original compositions and themes such as Anouar Brahem’s Astrakan Café and Kroke’s Sun.

  • 29 October: The Hillbilly Moon Explosion @ Escenario Santander, Avenida de la Constitución 39 (Parque de las Llamas)
      Oliver Baroni (slap bass, vocals), Emanuela Hutter (vocals, guitar), Duncan James (guitar, vocals) and Sylvain Petite (drums) played their idiosyncratic mix of rockabilly, rock’n’roll, surf and swing. Fantastic show, shame about the venue (dark and far from anywhere) and (lack of) publicity: I learned about this concert just a couple hours before, and that was only because I went for a lunch in Taberna Santoña (Calle Peña Herbosa, 18) and saw there this poster.