Saturday, 31 July 2010

Fiesta Mayor, Música Sobresaliente

DJ Tigre, dueño de La Bodega Saltò, cantante de La Ruge Band
y la cara más tradiciónal de la Fiesta Mayor de Pueblo Seco.
DJ Tigre, owner of the Bodega Saltò, lead singer of La Ruge Band
and the more traditional face of the el Poble-sec Festa Major.

Como dije en el posting previo, esta fiesta major de Pueblo Seco fue la mejor hemos asistado. A pesar de menos escenarios este año había más talente, más variadad y más experimentción, sobre todo en la música. No es solamente la opinión mia. Ni de coña - la peluquera de Sra. H&D la dijo equal, por lo tanto debe se ser verdadero.

As I said in the previous posting, this Festa Major in el Poble-sec was the best we've ever experienced. Despite less stages there was more talent, variety and experimentation - above all in the music. And that not merely my opinion - not by a long way. Mrs. H&D's hairdresser made the same observation, so it must be true. 

La Associación de Swing de Barcelona hace fiesta fuera del Bar "36".
The Barcelona Swing Association parties outside Bar 36, c. Elkano.

Pasabamos la mayoría del fiesta en Espai 36, un tramo de c. Elcano enfrente de Bar 36. Allí veíamos La Associación de Swing de Barcelona bailar, como puedes ver en el video arriba. Mientras disfrutabamos el espectaculo, notamos que el dj ponía un monton de versions de éxitos estilo swing. Entre estas fue Pump Up The Jam tocado por The Lost Fingers. Disfutalo.

We spent most of the festa at Espai 36, a stretch of calle Elcano outside Bar 36. There we saw The Barcelona Swing Association perform, as you can see in the above video. While we were enjoying the show we also noticed that the DJ was playing a lot of swing versions of hit records, including Pump Up The Jam, played by The Lost Fingers. Enjoy.

En los días siguientes Dj The Swing of Ramírez pinchaba más discos lounge, y estabamos para disfrutarles. A la otra estrema de la gama músical, pero solamente unas calles de distancía pudiera encontrar el Luchankos Gang, una pandilla de DJs de rock, más Los Picamoto (izquierda) un grupo de power garage de Valencía. No pude encontrar aglo de Los Picamoto online. En lugar de ellos, Here Are The Sonics!!!

Dj The Swing of Ramírez played a lot more lounge records in the following days, and we were to enjoy them all. Meanwhile, at the other end of the musical spectrum but only a few streets distant you could have found the Luchankos Gang, comprising a group of rock DJs plus Los Picamoto (left), a power garage band from Valencia. I couldn't find anything by them online, so instead, Here Are The Sonics!!!

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Masks, Disguises And Make-Believe At The Festa Major

The Festa Major is a time the barri becomes a world unto itself. Even more than usually, El Poble-sec seems completely remote from the rest of the city, the world - and even reality. Beginning on the Saturday 17th July and ending Sunday 25th it combines pleasures, terrors and large measures old and new.

The short video, above shows The Smoking Heads, a performance art piece that took place in c. Blesa, involving actors disguised as skeletal beings, dressed in a way reminescent of depictions of evil capitalists. As the troupe's name suggest, thick black smoke belched from their stovepipe hats while bangers went off and a sinister red light glowed. The symbolism of the iniquities of late industrial capitalism and the coming ecocide was sledgehammer subtle - yet highly effective in creating a  unnerving and disorientating atmosphere amongst the party-goers.

Gigants from l - r: Armand, Rosa and Quimet.

The following day held more traditional diversions - yet they could be just as surreal for those not familiar with Catalan customs. One of my first posts dealt with els gigantes. As a I mentioned then, the couple of Armand, the rich industrialist and cabaret afficionado, and Rosa the vedette represent Poble-sec's glamourous (or seedy, however you see it) past of showgirls and their rich patrons.

Armand always follows Rosa, and always bears two presents: a bunch of flowers and a string of pearls, (pictured, left) which remain hidden. Meanwhile, Quimet - who represents the legendary Quimet i Quimet bar - which according to rumour is Ferran Adrià's favourite - ensures neither of the illicit lovers suffers thirst. Rosa is unique in that she is the only one of her race to have visible legs. She had also changed costume since we'd last seen her, which was even more revealing than usual.

Hello gorgeous! A cap gros leers my way.
Although now most - if not all - barris, villages and towns in Catalonia have their own gigantes, their modern existence in Poble-sec only dates from 1987, when they were very different to now, and a lot heavier. Follow this link to a great interview with Xavier Velasco, originator of the colla, or association,  of gigantes in el Poble-sec in which he speaks enthusiastically (and in Spanish)  about his family's key involvement in this fascinating cultural movement.

The grotesques known as Els Caps Grossos (literally, Big Heads) play second fiddle to the gigants - mainly due to their relative lack of stature and smaller numbers. They are very popular, however, with some of the uglier and more sinister examples creating a frisson of fear in the younger children.

A rose between two thorns.
Joining a parade of such brilliantly realised humanoids does impart a real sense of other-worldliness as they walk among us. Just as alcohol, music, dancing, street decoration and other techniques transform the everyday into the mysterious and wondrous, the gigantes and caps grosses have a major part to play in leading us - pied-piper-like into another realm.

For children of all ages...
Other participants also change their identities with masks, and as in the picture here, face-painting. Others, such as these children are hell-bent on environmental transformations of a not altogether welcome kind. This sort of creative/destructive behaviour is very much part and parcel of the spirit of festa, in the same way that the correfoc is.
Everything's gone green.

In the next post I'll give you an idea of some of the great music we heard at this year's Festa - which has proved to be the best we have yet attended. Fins aviat!

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Don Letts Takes On The Spanish World Cup Squad

Don Letts Se Enfrenta La Selección Española

Let's be avin' you - The Don Of Dub.
Don Letts - La Leyenda.

"So you're not watching the football, then?" asked film-maker, DJ, Clash collaborator and ex-member of Big Audio Dynamite Don Letts in response to our hearty greeting. We wouldn't usually be quite so gauche when going to to a gig, but as we were amongst the youngest members of a very sparse audience at the Caixa Forum, we thought he might need a bit of encouragement. 

"Pues - ¿no mirais el fútbol?" pidió director , DJ, collaborador del Clash , y antiguo musico con Big Audio Dynamite  Don Letts, en repuesta de nuestra saludo caluroso. Normalamente, no fueramos tan directos mientras en una concierto. Pero puesto que estuvimos entre los espectadores más jovenes en un auditorio muy pequeño a La Caixa Forum, pensamos Don pusiera haber querer ánimo. 

The football that the one-time dealer for Bob Marley was referring to was the World Cup quarter final match between Spain and Portugal, and the reason for the shockingly bad (and badly shocked) turn-out. After going on stage and putting a dub mix of popular and retro tunes, he confided that he was going to run out of slow numbers: "And I don't think this lot would like some of the bangers I've got!" he continued, gesturing to the blue-rinses populating the back rows. The front rows were empty, except for us dancing like it was 1979. Poor Don. 

El fútbol de que le referió el antiguo camello de Bob Marley, fue La Copa Mondial cuarto partido entre España y Portugal. También fue el motivo por la falta de espectadores. Depués de tomando el escenario y poniendo un dub mix de canciónes buen conocidas, nos confió que fue a agotió de canciónes despacios. "Y creo que esta gente no le gustaría los demás." 

After the excellent set, which took in a lot of classic dub and reggae such as Horace Andy and Dave & Ansell Collins, plus some sly dub versions of more mainstream numbers we took the opportunity to thanks him for his efforts, despite the appalling lack of a crowd that an artist of his stature deserved. As I mentioned earlier, we don't usually pester pop stars, and the following exchange, indicates why:

Boy: Don, do you mind me asking you about Joe Strummer?
Don: Err... no...
Boy: What was he like? Did he like Spain?
Don: Errrrrr....

Después de una actuación sobresaliente que consistió en mucho pistas clasicas de dub y reggae de artistas como Horace Andy i Dave & Ansell Collins, y unas versiones, estilo dub, tomamos la oportunidad por agradacerle por todo. Dio muchas esfuerzas a pesar de condiciones horrorosas - condiciones que no le merece un artista de estatura. Como mencioné antes, usualmente no les molestamos los pop stars, y el dialogo siguiente es un ejemplo del movito por no hacerlo. 

Chico: Don - ¿te molestaría si preguntarte sobre Joe Strummer?
Don: Pues... no...
Chico ¿Cómo estuvo Joe? ¿Le gustó España?
Don: Pues... yo...

In the end I guess you would have to say that Spanish football mania won the day - and even beat Portugal 1-0 - which was a shame - a shame for Spain. Hopefully Don will be back to mix another day - during the cricket.

Al fin y al cabo supongo ganó la mania futbolistas española. De hecho al seleción vencó a Portugal 1-0. Pero con suerte volerá Don para mix de nueveo - quizás durante el cricket.

I've scoured the InterWebs for a decent representation of the set he played, but without success. Instead I'll leave you with him discussing Punk attitude, Bob Marley and his own first involvement in the music scene as a DJ at the Roxy. Be warned: it does get a bit sweary in places.  

He buscado por todos partes con el motivo de mostrar algo de lo que Don Letts tocaba aquela noche, pero no he tenido éxito. En lugar de eso, os dejaré con un clip de él hablando acerca de la atidud Punk, Bob Marley y su propio primera parcipación en el musical ámbito. Cuidado - hay palabrotas.