XLIX FESTIVAL INTERNACIONAL
DEL CANTE DE LAS MINAS
Text: Estela Zatania
On Tuesday the 11th in La Unión, the cultural agenda opened at the town hall with the conference “Discoveries Involving the Early Flamenco Era” by Cádiz investigator Guillermo Boto, and the presentation of the Granada flamenco peña “Golden Key” to the Festival Internacional del Cante de las Minas. There was great excitement outside in the street due to the arrival of Spain’s Culture Minister, María Ángeles González Sinde, and of course the recital to be given later that evening by Vicente Amigo at the Cathedral of Cante.
And one day God said, “Let there be updated flamenco guitar music”, and he made Paco de Lucía. But shortly thereafter, there were others: Manolo, Gerardo and a young man from Guadalcanal, raised in Córdoba, whose last name seems to allude to the elegant serenity of his personality and his art: Amigo, friend. In addition to other important prizes such as Spain’s national music prize and a Latin Grammy, in 1988 the guitarist won the Bordón Minero, highest guitar prize of La Unión. Two decades later, Amigo now returns to the scene of that triumph, and is receiving the festival’s formal tribute.
Vicente Amigo was profoundly influenced by Manolo Sanlúcar with whom he studied for years, but he also considers himself a follower of Paco de Lucía whose perspective is very different from that of Sanlúcar. It could be said Amigo is the person who has managed to combine the disparate concepts of these two giants, creating a style of his own along the way.
With his eyes closed and head thrown back, that gesture Paco made permanently fashionable for flamenco guitarists more that three decades ago, Vicente began the recital on his own, his long spindly fingers like spiders crawling along the fretboard, filling the space of the venerable theater with his exquisitely beautiful wisps of melody, full of delicate spirituality. When the rest of the group came on stage, singers Miguel Ortega and Rafael de Utrera, as well as percussion, electric guitar, violin and drums, they interpreted a breezy arrangement of fandango de Huelva. Tangos with a pop feeling, and ethereal floating bulerías that final came down to earth when the guitarist woke us all up with his fierce alzapúa that colored everything flamenco. Recent shoulder problems seemed not to hamper the musician’s impressive technical prowess.
He was again alone on stage for a lovely taranta, so appropriate given the surroundings, and an original farruca, a form in full evolutionary process, both in guitar and cante. He then went on with his group to interpret some popular themes from his most recent record, Paseo de Gracia, a work the artist himself has described as having been conceived to please the general public, and not the serious flamenco fan.
The following afternoon, from the hands of the mayor of La Unión, Francisco Bernabé, Vicente Amigo received the Castillete de Oro of the Festival.