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TRIBUTE TO JUAN HEREDIA 'JUANILLO EL GITANO'

May 5, 2012

HOMENAJE A JUAN HEREDIA
'JUANILLO EL GITANO'

Teatro Isabel la Católica. May 4th, 2012..

 


Text: Antonio Conde

Marina Heredia, Capullo de Jerez, Jaime El Parrón, Pedro el Granaino, Nene de Santa Fe, Aurora Losada, Pepe Luis Habichuela, Rudi de Santa Fe, Pepe Habichuela, Pepe Maya Marote, Rafi Heredia, Petete, Niño Jero, Jose Rubichi, Diego del Morao, Rafalin Habichuela, Angustias La Mona, Juan Andrés Maya, Iván Vargas, Jose del Puchero, Manuel Carmona

I always say the same thing when I have to write about these tributes to people who have died.  These things must be done while they are still alive.  Unfortunately, this is seldom the case.  We attended a tribute that was somewhat different from the typical sort usually seen in flamenco.

Juanillo Heredia “El Gitano” is not an artist of today, but of the past.  His childhood was in the caves and tablaos of the Albaycín and Sacromonte, and he ran a restaurant in the latter neighborhood.  His name is probably unknown to most flamenco fans without ties to Granada, but he is very well-known among flamenco artists.  He was an intimate friend of Camarón de la Isla, Luis de la Pica, Capullo de Jerez and many other major figures.  People like Paco de Lucía would always pass by his house when visiting the city of the Alhambra.

And the well-deserved tribute was held thanks to the organization and support of the Luis Habichuela flamenco peña and its members.

No one wanted to miss this heartfelt show full of tears, memories and anecdotes, but above all, flamenco.  And if there were those who couldn’t participate, it was because of international engagements, such as was the case with Manuel Liñán and Fuensanta la Moneta.  Estrella Morente was invited to the event as a friend, but said it was too soon to return to the Isabel la Católica theater where she gave the last goodbye to her father.

With a script by José Manuel Rojas, and Curro Albaycín as master of ceremonies, “Juanillo’s“ biography was dealt with before turning the stage over to Rudi de Santa Fe with the guitar of Petete who did a fine job of tarantas and bulerías.  Then came veteran artists to offer their contribution to the tribute.  Marina Heredia, possibly the best singer of soleá Granada has as the current time, brought Diego del Morao from Jerez to remember Paquera and Morao with siguiriyas, malagueñas with fandangos del Albaicín and bulerías.  Her father, Jaime Heredia “El Parrón”, a personal friend of Juanillo, took over from his daughter with soleá and fandangos in the Caracol style.  Next up were Nene de Santa Fe with Manuel Carmona for a lengthy round of soleá apolá, cantiñas and a final cante of Pepe Marchena in memory of his friend Juanillo with verses by Pepe Heredia.

Those who knew him said he was a fine person and a faithful friend.  He was one of the founders of the Camelamos Naquerar association, and his work to help preserve the Sacromonte area was intense during the nineteen-sixties, which is in large part the reason he is so well-loved and respected.

The long evening went on for three hours with artists like Pepe Habichuela with soleá and fandangos de Huelva, leaving room for the alegrías dance of Juan Andrés Maya and Iván Vargas, a pas de deux that transformed into solo dancing and ended as it had begun, with Pepe Maya on guitar and the voice of Rafi Heredia.  Then it was the turn of Pedro el Granaíno who sang siguiriyas and bulerías in impeccable Camarón style.  Visibly moved, Juanillo’s son-in-law and member of the Barbería del Sur, Pepe Luis Habichuela, was overcome during the soleá, and invited José del Puchero, a personal friend of Juanillo’s, to interpret some fandangos.

Shortly before the end, and more than two hours after the beginning, Angustias La Mona came on with soleá.  This legendary dancer taught Eva Yerbabuena among many others.  Her dance is sentimental, far-removed from the technical approach, pure in essence and free within the aesthetic outlines.  A living treasure of the dancing of Sacromonte, and well-deserving of a tribute.

Good-natured hell-raising was provided by the incomparable Capullo de Jerez with the guitar of Niño Jero and the percussion of José Rubichi.  Tangos and bulerías warmed the audience up, and for a moment we all forgot about the sentimental objective of the night to enjoy “Capu”.

The end of the show was with Aurora Losada who interpreted two songs in the line of “new flamenco” which, despite being decaffeinated, closed out an evening that will be remembered as recognition of the figure Juanillo el Gitano.