TRIBUTE TO CHANO LOBATO
Here’s to you, Chano!
Text and photos: Antonio Konde
Cante: Antonio Reyes, Encarna Anillo, Felipe Scapachini, Carmen de la Jara, El Junco, Miguel Poveda, David Palomar, Juán Villar, Nano de Jerez, Mariana Cornejo. Guitar: Antonio Higuero, Jesús Guerrero, Eduardo Rebollar, Niño Jero, Antonio Carrión, Rafael Rodriguez, Alfredo Lagos. Palmas: Diego Montoya, Perico el de la Chana, Tate Núñez. Emcees: Matilde Coral, Jesús Vigorra
These tributes are always moving. But in most cases, they arrive too late. Chano Lobato, our beloved Chano was honored at the Gran Teatro Falla in his hometown of Cádiz. Too late. The Nimes festival had already done so, just as they had with Fosforito. The La Unión festival as well, in 2007. Seville honored Chano in March of the same year. But Cádiz, his beloved Cádiz with its famous bay, was unable to find the right moment until now, after the singer’s death. In any case, the large theater vibrated with the heartfelt performances of a wide range of artists who had come to pay posthumous tribute to the man from Cádiz. And once again the saying applies, “Better late than never”. Aside from that, it was a magical night in which Chano Lobato’s spirit inundated the venerable theater.
A good line-up of Cádiz interpreters lent their voices and hands to help perpetuate the spirit of one of the greatest artists to come out of flamenco. This day of the city’s patron saint, it was a well-earned tribute presented by Jesús Vigorra and Matilde Coral. From beginning to end, over three hours, the feeling of nostalgia kept the audience riveted.
Already at the beginning, and after a few words from the master and mistress of ceremonies, Chano’s voice could be heard telling one of his many anecdotes that he would repeat with such personality and sparkle, they always sounded delightfully fresh. And that’s what Chano had, a kind of charisma speaking and singing that filled theaters. If we add to this the feeling of times past, emotional moments are a sure thing. Singer Antonio Reyes opened the night with Antonio Higuero on guitar. Tangos with a strong Caracol influence, and Morente fandangos in four-quarter time, almost closer to tientos. In bulerías, he continued to recall Caracol, as well as Perla de Cádiz. Another local singer, Encarna Anillo, is very popular in this city. She won over the audience with alegrías and bulerías, finishing with an overly-long cuplé that dimmed her overall performance. The energetic guitar accompaniment of Jesús Guerrero was noteworthy.
Singer Felipe Scapachini, with years of experience under his belt, has a well-worn voice. He delivered malagueñas del Mellizo which received warm applause, and he knew how to win over the audience, ending his contribution with alegrías before turning the stage over to the presenters who recalled the endless pranks Chano Lobato used to play on Matilde Coral.
Two female voices represent the current scene of Cádiz cante. One of them is that of Carmen de la Jara, and the other is Mariana Cornejo. The former had clear that she had to participate in this tribute, and began with colombianas, including original verses about Chano. From her latest recording which is a run-down of Cádiz cantes, she interpreted bulerías remembering three mothers of three legendary Cádiz singers: Juana Cruz, mother of Camarón, Rosa la Papera, mother of La Perla, and María la Sabina, mother of Santiago Donday.
As far as dance, there were two moments of high emotion. Juan José Jaén “El Junco” was excellent dancing alegrías to the recorded voice of Chano with the guitar of Pedro Sierra. The other moment was with Matilde Coral, who with the voice of Miguel Poveda and the guitar of Alfredo Lagos, said everything there was to say with a few movements of her white shawl. That’s how it is with the greats. Simple gestures reflect all the complexity of a life devoted to flamenco dance, and as she herself quipped: “I’m a promising dancer making her first appearance in this theater at the age of 74”.
Singer David Palomar, who is enjoying such great success these days, was accompanied on guitar by his sidekick Rafael Rodríguez. Siguiriyas, and back to alegrias, stylized and with some cantiñas as well. A discreet bulerías ending included his own verses dedicated to the maestro in whose name we were all present that night.
The surprise of the night was once again hearing a live performance of Juan Villar. With the guitar of Niño Jero, he sang soleá and bulerías de Cádiz, highly personalized, with plenty of class and demonstrating he’s in great shape for singing. And then, the other representative of women singers in Cádiz, Mariana. Eduardo Rebollar on guitar accompanied alegrías and tanguillos with a retro flavor.
One of the night’s anecdotes was the unexpected appearance of Nano de Jerez who didn’t quite manage to hide himself in the wings, and was made to come on stage for a bit of his “bombero” bulerías routine. The fiesta finale and goodbye to Chano Lobato, took the form of tanguiillos with a short dance by Matilde.
The three palmeros, Diego Montoya, Tate Núñez and Perico el de la Chana deserve special mention for having accompanied each and every one of the singers, wonderful back-up.
And thus ended a well-deserved tribute to the life and work of a singer who took Cádiz cante to the heights of its possibilities. Here’s to you Chano…