Archives for July 2017

Flamenco Show Stroke Victim Support Kilpin East Yorkshire

Together with my flamenco dancer Rocio I provided a performance of Flamenco Dance and Guitar Solos.

This event was organised partly to raise funds for Stroke Victim Support with specific reference to the East Riding of Yorkshire.

However it was also evident that the organisers had real knowledge about Spain, Spanish history and culture and spoke Spanish. They produced a very complete programme full of interesting facts about Spain; some serious and some amusing.

A large wooden floor area has been prepared for us with easy access to electric sockets which made setting up quick and easy.

We had been allocated two very good rooms to get changed so that aspect of our performance was also very comfortable and it meant that Rocio could get changed several times into her absolutely beautiful flamenco costumes.

Rocio was very popular and I noticed a lot of filming and photography which we were both very happy about and I hope to be able to add some of those to this blog at a later date.

Rocio was particularly impressive in her footwork or zapateado in the dances of Farruca and Fandangos and elegant in her arms or braceo in Soleares and Alegrias where she also produced some very complex zapateado patterns.

Her delicate Guajira with fan and lovely light coloured costume was especially well received.

In a situation like this one where there is very clearly a party atmosphere you do not anticipate that the audience will pay a lot of attention to the guitar solos and you accept that these will be background music while people eat and chat.

I was therefore so very happy when I noticed a number of people watching my compositions carefully, some filming and very genuine applause at the end of each piece. I tried to vary between the more gentle slower pieces and the more showy impressive pieces.

Rocio joined me for duets of guitar and castanets and of course people find this combination quite intriguing.

In addition to our large changing rooms the organisers had provided us with a very comfortable beautifully decorated rest area with a table of food for us for our intervals.

The night before we had performed in Hertfordshire and driven up to Yorkshire where a special Hotel arrangement awaited us.

All of this careful planning and concern for our comfort meant that we were able to give out full attention to our work and try to give the best performance we could.

We both have a very lovely memory of our time at Kilpin, East Yorkshire.

 

 

 

 

Paso Fino Horse Flamenco Dancing and Guitar Norton Heath Equestrian Centre

I provided a performance of Flamenco Dance, Castanets and Guitar for the presentation of the Paso Fino horse at the Norton Heath Equestrian Centre.

At first we were both a little scared of working in close proximity to horses but as we got involved it became one of the most delightful performances that we have given.

The Paso Fino horse is special and I guess you could say that about all breeds of horse each in their own way.

The Paso Fino is a small horse with a gentle nature and walks with small steps, hence the name Paso Fino or Fine Step. The horse riders took their Fino horses along a passage of wood flooring and this meant that we could hear the horses little steps like a percussive instrument.

We understood then why the horse owners wanted to have flamenco dancing at the presentation.

What was different was that we did not play for a dinner after the event but instead were right in the enclosure on the sand.

The horse made its steps down the wooden passage and then my dancer Rocio imitated or answered the steps with her own footwork on her wooden boards. What impresses me a great deal about Rocio is the way that she becomes absolutely involved with the situation. We had very little time to rehearse and yet she created perfect percussive footwork responses to the sound of the Paso Fino.

But as her own spontaneous creation she did something that I found quite lovely: once the horse has completed its passage the rider takes in round to start again but in contrast everything is most quiet and during these moments Rocio created a delicate display with her large Spanish dance shawl or Manton as we call it. I think all present felt that she had perfectly understood the atmosphere and was in tune with the rider and the horse.

In each passage the horse seemed to sound a little different especially because of the variety of steps and stops and starts which again Rocio answered perfectly.

There were other moments when I played a beautiful tremolo study to accompany a non percussive display and of course there was also time for some of our castanet and guitar duets and some normal flamenco dances.

As I said at the beginning at first we were a little apprehensive but we needn’t have been.

At one point a rider brought out a much bigger horse and rode it somewhat faster around the enclosure explaining the techniques to the audience. This rider brought his horse much closer to us and very close to my amplifier and yet is was absolutely clear that he had absolute control and that the horse was going exactly where he wanted in the way he wanted.

Not being a professional writer, it is difficult to convey here the passion and beauty of that event. We came away with the feeling that we would love to work with the Paso Fino horse and riders again at another opportunity.

I will add one or two photos of Rocio at that event. They are not very well taken but are really just as a memory for us.

Flamenco Dancer Paso Fino Horse

 

Beautiful Dancer Beautiful Paso Fino

Spanish Night Black Horse Elton Peterborough

I was delighted to present a night of flamenco dance with my new dancer Rocio Gomez as well as some guitar and castanet duets and some guitar solos for the Spanish night at the Black Horse pub in Elton Peterborough.

The whole evening was very well organised and the managers had purchased a large sheet of plywood which they fixed to the floor so that Rocio’s wonderful footwork could be fully heard.

We were in a special area but they had organsised the tables in such a way that all of the diners could see the show.

Rocio does not like rehearsing very much and she does not like to pre arrange set choreographies. Rather she likes to work with the inspiration that she feels at each event. Had this been just another Spanish paella night at a pub perhaps she might not have felt especially inspired but this was not the case.

From the moment that we arrived you could feel a kind of buzz. There were professional waiting staff who were being carefully directed by the managers to ensure that each person knew where they had to be and what they had to get done.  They were also very well turned out which I think matters in the same way that our professional costumes matter.

It shows the clients that the event is being taken seriously and managed with care.

Rocio certainly did feel inspired and impressed the diners with her opening dance of Fandangos in which she produces flamenco counterpoint percussive rhythms using her hand clapping and feet in combinations.

She also built a great crescendo with her footwork in Farruca and the delicacy of her dance style in Alegrias was much appreciated and I imagine that might be because delicate flamenco dancing is perhaps so well known.

Guitar and castanet duets included Sevillanas and Colombiana and I played a number of solos which gave Rocio time to change into her various beautiful costumes.

The people were all wonderfully appreciative and asked to have photos taken together with Rocio.

I was very happy with how the whole evening went and finally there was a small detail but that was touching.

Any musician who plays around eating venues can tell you that sometimes you have to seek the person who pays you at the end.

That was not my case as payment is done at a later date so I just packed everything up into the car and was ready to leave when one of the waitresses came out and quickly followed us to the car park and was concerned that we had not been paid and wanted us to come back to get paid.

I explained that it would all be taken care of but I went away thinking that the management and staff at the Black Horse in Elton really make sure that they get it all right on the night.

Here are some photos of that event:

Flamenco Guitarist and Dancer Spanish Event     

 

Tapas Night Flamenco Show

 

 

 

Paco de Lucia and Paco Pena Music in St. Albans

I had the exceptional pleasure of performing a recital of music by Paco de Lucia and  Paco Pena or to spell in Spanish Paco de Lucía and Paco Peña for a private event in St. Albans.

Sometimes quite unexpected things happen.

I was booked to play flamenco guitar music for a private event in St. Albans and at first I thought it would be alright because it always is.

People who hire me to play flamenco guitar music at their events generally know that they are booking.

These clients knew rather more!  You can read the e mails that I received from them on my Testimonials page in Maroon colour. Also they posted reviews of the event on my Last Minute Musicians profile.

They were a couple who had visited Andalucia several times and had made a point of looking out for authentic flamenco.

They told me that they particularly liked Paco de Lucia and Paco Pena and this was exciting news.

It gave me the opportunity to play the music that I really love.

I was very pleased at the reactions I received.

One of the guests had seen Paco Pena live at his first concert in Brighton and she recognised the pieces that I played.

For me and perhaps for any musician it is very rewarding when we can see that our music is meaningful to our listeners.

Another guest I noticed was very in tune with the rhythm and feeling of the pieces.

Many years ago when Paco Pena first started playing in Britain and in other countries outside of Spain I think it was somewhat more difficult. Quite naturally people did not understand the ‘language’ of flamenco but a great deal has happened over the years in terms of people becoming more familiar with a variety of musical expressions.

I am indebted to Paco Pena for his pioneering work that has paved the way flamenco guitarists to play traditional authentic flamenco guitar music and be understood outside of Spain.

After the event I heard that there were some guitarists present and that might explain why some guests seem to pay a great deal of attention. This never puts me off in the slightest; I love that there are guitarists present as indeed any music lovers.

It was a wonderful experience for me to play all my favourite flamenco pieces for a great audience.