I Went To See A Band...


La Grande again on tuesday. Highlights included a sitar player, which shouldnt have worked but did, a couple of great scat singing women vocalists, and a very experimental synthesizer player, along with Milo the human beatbox, and a wide variety of guests.
Next tuesday is the last one of the year, resuming in Feb. Juana Molina will be there.


Thursday we went to see Lucy Patane, who I think is one of the best guitarists (and musicians in general) in Argentina right now. She is incredibly versatile, and she was opening for a Stoner Rock band in the style of Queens of the Stone Age. Her 4 piece all female band was a bit of a surprise the mostly male, 40ish hirsuite stoner rock crowd, but she won them over. She was in full on rock shredding mode, mostly playing a stratocaster, sometimes almost Stray Cats rockabilly like, with her sax player, other times showing how much she has listened to John McLaughlin- and, like Mclaughlin, she was switching back and forth between acoustic 12 string and the Fender. If McLaughlin had grown up listening to Argentine music. She finished the set off with this song.


Friday night in Agronomia, we go to see Sexteto Irreal.

There are only five of them, thats the joke. Five amazing men who have been friends for 30 years, and in that time, have been there for the creation of an incredible amount of music. Members at various times of some of the biggest bands in South America, and also of some of the most obscure and oddball bands you never heard of.

These guys are seasoned pros, veterans of a hundred albums and sessions and live shows, and this band is their way of unwinding and having fun, stretching their musical limits in ways that playing with more normal musicians wont let them.
It starts with the rhythm section- the drummer who can play anything, effortlessly, and the cosmic bass player, lost in the groove, manipulating the beat every time around, creating a dub fog of syncopation. Samalea and Basso.
I would compare them to Wyman and Watts, but Wyman and Watts have a much more limited range. But the easy familiarity is there, and the been there done that seen it all professionalism.

Then, the horns- the twin horns of Krygier and Teran, who bounce off each other for decades- they played at the final concerts of Soda Stereo, 50,000 people in a stadium, they played at elegant concerts with strings in concert halls, they played hit songs on TV shows, they play on soundtracks and musicals, they bounce free jazz, klezmer, and cartoon soundtracks off each other. And behind it all, Manu Schaller on Theremin as a lead instrument- not THE lead instrument, because they are all leaders here- but there are no guitars, the music is carried by theremin and violin, bass and keyboards, drums and flute and clarinet.
But they can rock with the best of em, if they choose.
They play songs by different members, but twist and re-invent them as they go, causing the original songwriters to smile in amazement as the other guys, on the fly, change the tune.
this is a band of all stars, a band that crosses from elegant jazz to tango to rock to dub to carnival music to experimental noise to bits of classical in one song, in ways you just dont see.
I have been lucky enough to see them three times now, and every time is different. Sometimes they will play the "same" song, but its never even remotely the same.
This is a band I will go see whenever I can, I am a DeadHead for them. They make me smile, and nod, and bounce, and dance. And Think. mostly Think.
they play seldom. when they want, and when the individual members have the time. This is a clip from a few years ago.


Villa Diamante has a regular Sunday night gig at temple bar in Palermo, in the back garden. He usually alternates sets with guest DJs, friends of his, and he knows everybody, so its always interesting. But this Sunday, he hosted Rodrigo Gallardo, from Chile. Gallardo is one of the three members of Matanza, a chilean group that plays what the europeans, in their constant urge to invent funny names, call "South American Tribal Tech House". I think the degree of ridiculous categories that the Brits invent is a symptom of Asperger syndrome, but, whatever.
En realidad, they are a mixture of traditional andean music with modern electronic instruments. And they are pretty great, in my book.

Although the event was free, it was by advance ticket only, as the garden is pretty small. Luckily I was able to bluff my way in, the benefits of having spent far too much of my wayward senescence going to clubs and concerts and watching bands. People see me so often they take pity on me.

Villa himself was playing a set of the mellow end of his spectrum- his music runs a very large gamut of styles, and can DJ most anywhere- but he was grooving, setting the pace for the evening.
Then, Barda came on. Barda constructs music from samples, from programmed beats, from her own playing of both live and recorded instruments, from live vocals, and in collaboration with others- usually Gus, her frequent vocal collaborator. Her music is not a DJ playing a song by someone else, but improvisation using a very wide range of sources. Tonight, she and Gus sang and played, but also welcomed other friends of hers up to add to the beat- Josefina Barriex and RitualFir3- two women who sing, in very different ways. Both perform in different bands, as well as solo, and have soundcloud pages with their own music. The whole garden was dancing for an hour and a half.

After that, Gallardo came on. His music, from the beginning, is both infectious beats and traditional- he sings and plays flutes, there is no question its folkloric music, but the low end is dance music. Its got everybody moving right away, on a warm night in Palermo.

this is a recent mix of his-

all of Gallardo's music, and that of his band, Matanza, is available for free download.


We did, of course, go to La Grande again this week. I guess it was sold out several days in advance, with Juana Molina fans. She was on stage most of the evening, working well outside of her comfort zone, having fun. Lots of great guest artists. Always fun. Resumes again the second tuesday in February. Meanwhile, I will be going to art shows, Dj-ing at Asados, and spending a week or so in Uruguay. Today I went to a tour of Leon Ferrari's studio- which I highly recommend to anyone interested in contemporary argentine art. Ferrari died in 2013 at the age of 92, and he was young at heart, making wild stuff until the very end.


Saturday night, I ended up on the tenth floor terrace of a boutique hotel in Palermo, listening to Sidirum, a DJ and musician. When somebody first told me about him, a few years ago, I thought they were saying "CD Room". Took me a while to figure out the porteno spelling, which is kind of like "chau".
I was sipping Stella Artois, and watching the sun set over Buenos Aires. The building on the left, like most buildings in BA, has a large tank on the roof to hold water- that way, if the power fails, which it does (no hay luz) gravity will still allow most people to take a quick shower or fill their pots with water for a few hours. This one looks like the largest bathtub I have ever seen. It must be ten meters long and 3 meters high. Fancy building, to have that much water storage. A lot of buildings have a small plastic tank, y nada mas.
Sidirum played a great, chill set. I enjoyed it a lot.
This mix he made a few years ago is one of my favorites.



Sunday night we ventured into the wilds of the Provincia. I have to say, it scares me up there- packs of kids driving daddy's Audi at 120km/h on Libertador, a Kansas ever 2 km, and wealth just dripping off everything. Also- no taxis in the provincia- we actually had a taxi who refused to drive past General La Paz. Luckily, we got another one right away on the other side of the border, who, when we told him where we were going, promptly told us that Pappo was much better, and began playing Pappo very loudly for us to prove it.
Finally, feeling like pioneers, we arrived at the park on the Rio, to see La Portuaria play.

This year, they have re-united, and played a few concerts, with a mix of original members and some new ones, for the first time in over 8 years. Diego Frenkel, Christian Basso, and Sebastian Schachtel, founding members, were there, along with percussionist Fernando Samalea, who was in the band Clap with them before La Portuaria, and on violin and saxophone, Alejandro Teran, who was on many of their very early records. I missed the lack of Axel Krygier, but maybe thats just me.

It was a beautiful warm night, the huge orange moon rose over the river, and a crowd of a couple of thousand people were roaring in approval as they played their hits from the 80s and 90s. All of them have gone on to do many other bands and records, and all are probably better musicians now than they were 25 years ago, so the music was great. A lot more jamming and complexity than the original album versions.
And, yes, they played El Bar en El Calle Rodney.

I was standing about ten feet to the left of the guy who shot this video.

Afterwards, it took us a while, but we finally escaped the suburbs, avoiding being run down by a huge group of los ricos riding 1000cc motorcycles at high speed, and snagged a taxi running black, who returned us to civilisation.



Right before the new year, I went to Matienzo and saw 3 women singing and playing, 3 friends who alternated a couple of songs each thru the night- Paula Maffia, Lucy Patane, and Flopa. Intimate, personal music, all acoustic instruments, very nice.


After a relaxing ten days in Uruguay, I returned just in time for the big re-opening of the Centro Cultural Recoleta. They have renovated the building, completely redone the museum shop with lots of local designs and books, and have 4 or 5 new art shows. Thursday night, all the art shows opened, and there were live musical performances and break dancing and a poetry slam simultaneously in 4 different areas all night.
Probably 3000 people there- such a crowd you couldnt see the art. It was a scene- a glorious Buenos Aires party.
All ages, all kinds of people, all free.
The evening culminated with a large outdoor concert by Juan Ingaramo, a big pop star. Not my favorite, too mellow pop for me, but a huge crowd loved it. Outside, on the lawn of Plaza Francia, dancing til midnight.

There will be free concerts, readings, performances, and the art shows, all summer- regular events several nights a week for the next two months. Libre and Gratis, of course.