Before letting Summer fade off into a Tequila sunset, I have to tell of one big highlight of our Summer tour- in Segovia, Spain. We had the opportunity to close out the World/Folk Segovia music fest, on the evening of the last day, on this gorgeous San Martin stage in the heart of the old town center. While this would normally be pure awesomeness all by itself, it was made even more so because (as they kept exuberantly reminding us) we were the first US band to ever play this festival (sponsored by the European Broadcaster’s Union) in its 33 year history. Wooo! Who knows why this is the first time the US was represented, but it felt amazing.
So at first I thought, OK- we’ll just play our little hearts out- me and the Tortilla Western Trio- doing what we do best for all occasions- our blend of wildwest, Tex-Americana-rock. But then, I woke up in the middle of the night before the gig thinking- wait a minute: is that really what we should do? There were bands here from 16 other countries (Italy, Russia, Germany, Japan, Croatia, Estonia etc.) all playing sounds that could be considered characteristic or derivative of some folk tradition held deep in their country’s cultural heart. Should we expand a bit to do the same? After all, we had this amazing chance to leave them with something truly different, something…American. I suddenly felt the weight of being a US ambassador; what is the epitome of American folk music? Thankfully- we are all- ALL over the place. 😉
So I got this idea- to play our music in a way that presents American folk music regionally- as if we were all taking a roadtrip across the US together. Our history is new, I said, but our cultural palate is rich, and our music has been influenced by so many cultures. So we started out along the border regions, from CA to TX- with folk music of the people from the border, with Tex-Mex (boleros, haupangos, polkitas, rancheras- which of course credit the German accordion and the Spanish guitars in their lineage.;). Then on to the Midwestern US regions picking up country and blues influences, finally ending up in New York speakeasies and dance halls- circa 1920’s-30’s playing stomps and swings of early American jazz. Drummer Rafa translated into Spanish for me, thankfully.
I think it went well; we got 3 encores and had a blast! The Spanish were so kind and gracious; I can’t wait to go back.
The San Martin stage:
Photos by Francisco Jose Bernardino Rico