Juana la del Pipa &
Text: Isaac Rodriguez
Second Thursday of the series “Pinceladas Flamencas” at Villa Rosa, with a programa as attractive as it is unusual for Madrid flamenco fans who came en masse, on time and with an unsatiable appetite for some good cante.
As if she were hawking the sunflower seeds (pipas) her people used to sell, Juana la del Pipa began with martinete, almost taking our breath away. A short, intense and devastating cante that put all her cards on the table with a voice that couldn’t possibly be more flamenco.
Accompanied on guitar by Curro Carrasco of Navajita Plateá, she continued with bulerías por soleá, trademark of her family and town, straightahead Jerez in the compás and melisma, because there’s also honey in her broken voice. After an enthusiastic ovation, she delivered a couple of fandangos with those characteristic rough edges, straight from the wineskin of her life and experiences: “Pero quererte yo no. No quiero que tú me quieras, pero quererte yo no. Quisiera que te murieras y aluego morirme yo. Yo no sé lo que quisiera” [‘I don’t want you to love me, I don’t love you or want you to love me…I wish you would die and then me…I don’t even know what I want’]. And then with the whole group, the singer interpreted some rich moving tangos, “the most wonderful tangos of the last fifty years”, shouted out one admiring spectator.
She gave so much of herself in these cantes that she needed a respite. And it was an especially apt moment for the three “Viejas de Jerez” to show what they could do, on this occasion accompanied by their own compás and Jerez look (I won’t fall into the temptation of describing it as a scene from Estébanez Calderón or one of the images from the book of Fernando el de Triana, having little in common with our times of the Euribo and Wii…just have a look at the photos). In broad terms, I would highlight their fiesta dancing, bulerías from Jerez, under the direction of “la Chata” wearing the little white shawl.
Madame Juana returned, now in a red dress, to finish out the evening with a set of bulerías that lasted, I don’t know, three minutes, thirty-five or a whole month, but whatever it was, it felt too short. When the new stuff is done well it’s okay, all this fusion and experimentalism in flamenco, but once in a while a megadose of the old way does a lot of good too, a kind of life therapy.