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365 days glued to flamenco

What can I say?... that #miAñoFlamenco 2017 was complete, every single day, just as the last 16 years since I got involved in this adventure called DeFlamenco.com
December 27, 2017
Rafael Manjavacas
director of DeFlamenco.com

Mi Año Flamenco

Quite a privilege to be so close to this art-form every day of the year, one way or another, presentations, press conferences, festivals, performances, tributes, interviews, etc., I couldn’t be busier, or more delighted.

I mostly experience the flamenco that goes on in Madrid, and I’ve also visited other festivals outside, whenever I’ve had the chance.  And although I haven’t physically attended others, I’ve had first-hand information about nearly all the flamenco that goes on, whether through chronicles received from my colleagues or through members of the flamenco community.

My function at deflamenco isn’t as a writer, I’ve tried to share, as much as possible, all the information that comes my way regarding flamenco, news, agenda, reviews to keep the magazine updated daily.  Personally, I like to share flamenco through photographs and videos, filling our channels on social media every single day.  You can just imagine how much I enjoy this, and how close I’ve been to flamenco every day of the year.

In order to go over what #miAñoFlamenco was in 2017, I have to begin at the end, I still have the last recitals at the Sala García Lorca in my eyes and ears, with David Palomar and Rocío Márquez, also José Valencia.  There is no greater privilege for a flamenco fan than to have a singer of this level give a recital of more than one hour, giving his or her all with a complicity difficult to have at any other type of venue.  And with guitarists such as Rafael Rodríguez, Miguel Ángel Cortés and Manuel Parrilla.  But that’s only a small sampling of what I was able to enjoy at the Sala García Lorca, such a special venue.  I can’t give a list of all the recitals, there were many, but I would certainly highlight such special performances as those of Aurora Vargas, El Pele, Cañeta de Málaga and María Terremoto, this is where I return every weekend, and the venue where I most enjoy flamenco.  Just one week ago, we all were saddened to hear of the passing of singer Manuel Moneo, and I remembered the siguiriya of his I recorded two years ago at the Sala García Lorca where all those present were so moved.

Another must-visit place in Madrid that I try never to miss, is the Círculo Flamenco de Madrid that presents recitals you won’t see in theaters, such as that of guitarist Paco del Gastor accompanied by Antonio Reyes, or José de la Tomasa with Manolo Franco, or Luis el Zambo very recently substituting Fernando de la Morena, or Luis Moneo, Serranito…  La Macanita opened the 2017 season at the Sala Caracol debuting her “Directo”, recorded the previous year, and which was one of the most noteworthy records of the year as far as I’m concerned.  Also in 2017, the record Diego Carrasco & Familia, a repertoire of the best songs of his recording career.  Also Juan Habichuela Nieto’s record, “El Sentimiento de mi Ser” is one I always have on hand.  One more and that’s it: Rafael Riqueni’s “Parque de María Luisa”.

Getting back to live performances, and completing my Madrid “flamenco circuit”, I also enjoyed it at the Café Berlín. Since opening their doors at the new location on Costanilla de los Ángeles, there hasn’t been a single week without several days devoted to flamenco.  It’s here that I’ve been able to see, enjoy, photograph and video a veritable multitude of a wide range of artists…flamenco singers and dancers, jazz flamenco, flamenco among friends, fiesta and more fiesta when the moment is right.  The first edition of the Festival Flamenco of the Club brought the best flamenco performers on weekends in November, where special attention was paid to flamenco guitar, something too often overlooked in festivals.  Bravo for the Berlin.

Speaking of festivals in the country’s capital, the perception is different from that of other years, while Flamenco Madrid has become, with its third edition, the most extensive, with a terrific program at the Fernán Gómez theaters where I was able to enjoy flamenco shows that previously no one would dare program, such as Andrés Marin’s.

The Festival Suma Flamenca, which has been a classic year after year, was experienced more or less at a distance, due to the restrictions of attendance regarding the media, and the impossibility of taking photos that made it seem to slip away, much to my regret.  In September however we had a great time with “Flamencos Jóvenes” already in its third edition, at the Auditorio Conde Duque, once again the necessary showcase for new flamenco artists in Madrid.  Singer Israel Fernández is one of the most interesting young interpreters.

In Madrid, this year 2017 was also a year of tributes, the kind that fills the stage with artists, the best, given the importance of the honored person.  La Chana, what a fantastic night it was in Flamenco Madrid, as it was for the tribute to dancer David Paniagua that had all his professional companions giving their all for him.  Later on, it was a triple tribute for Pepe Habichuela, 60 years no less with the guitar, celebrated at the Circo Price.  Diego Carrasco also reached the 50-year career mark in this difficult but beautiful profession, and only a short time ago, on December 18th, the great Pele finished off a magical evening for this year’s flamenco: 50 years and sounding better than ever.

And my refuge is at the tablaos, that’s where I like to see all the dancers, current and emerging, and it’s where I’m so well-received.  At Casa Patas, which just celebrated their 30th anniversary with a double series called “Bota y Tacón”, we saw José Maya, Lola Greco, Joaquín Grilo, La Tati, Toni el Pelao & La Uchi.  And at Corral de la Morería, there’s never a bad night, it’s always terrific, what a joy.

My excursions to festivals outside Madrid usually take place in summer, such as to the Cante de Las Minas, particularly the contest, which this year crowned Alfredo Tejada as winner of the Lámpara Minera, and Fernando Jiménez won the first prize for dance.  Even I received a prize, the so-named Naranjito de Oro, although it was apart from the actual contest and from all logic, though much-appreciated.  Another summer festival which is now an obligatory event is Pamplona’s “Flamenco on Fire”, an absolute treat for the senses to be able to attend yet another year.

And I really don’t want to tell you any more, it’s hard to stop and look back, one year ends and another is beginning, overflowing with good flamenco.