Camarón de la Isla and Paco de Lucía have left their imprint on popular musical culture here. Camarón, who died early at the age of 42, has become a local legend and was the subject of a movie Camarón (2005). Paco de Lucía, meanwhile, has helped raise the profile of flamenco in international music arenas. And flamenco is always _the_ dance step of choice of the Ballet Nacional de España. However, believe me when I say that most of Spain, particularly its younger generation, isn't playing flamenco on their car radio. (Clarification: my wife suggested to me a more accurate characterization by way of analogy. Just as country music is heard on the radio in the United States more in the South and Southwest than in the Northeast, flamenco music is listened to more in Andalucía, where it originated, than in the rest of Spain.)
|The always entertaining Duquesa de Alba danced flamenco at her wedding.|
|Monument to Camarón in the southern|
Spanish town, la Línea de la Concepción,
where Camarón lived much of his life.
Pata Negra, a group from Andalucía which released albums between 1981 and 1995 which blended blues with flamenco… or what they called "blueslería." Perhaps their most successful albums was "Blues de la Frontera" released in 1987, and two songs from it which are my personal favorites, and which nicely illustrate their bluesy flamenco style are "Yo me quedo en sevilla" [Click here to hear it on YouTube] and "Bodas de Sangre" [Click here to hear it on YouTube].
|Kiko Veneno with his |
soulful guitar strum.
Another group from Catalunya, specifically from Barcelona, is Ojos de Brujo, who specialize in hip-hop flamenco… or as they call it "jipjop flamenkillo." They're popular with a politically and socially more conscientious crowd, because of their vocal and public commentary on a variety of social issues, but their music is lively and great to listen to whatever your politics. A good sample of their style is "Sultanas de merkaíllo" [Click here to hear it on YouTube] from the album "Techarí" (2006).
|"La Mala" on the cover of her album "Alevosía" (2003)|
Mala Rodriguez is also making a footprint on the international Spanish-language hip-hop scene. What's funny is how national stereotypes can still trump regional ones even in this alternative "Hispanidad" community. When Mala paired up with Puerto Rican rapper Vico C in "Vamonos Po' Encima," Vico C couldn't resist introducing Mala as follows:
"Ando con la abusadora de la madre patria, sabe…Olé!"Madre patria? Olé? Really? --Sigh-- Even a street-savvy Andalusian hip-hop artist becomes just another Castilian conquistador(a) when traveling in the New World.
FYI, while I personally like the Gypsy Kings _a lot_ you should be advised they are a very
|Spanish artists have started to promote this new "Flamenco fusión" movement|
and related events in Spain through this MySpace page and a web forum.
But the point here isn't to initiate a debate over what is the "authentic" flamenco and what is just the latest pop fad. Music is always changing, and what is most impressive about these groups is that they make great music drawing on old and new traditions. So perhaps it's time to say, "Flamenco is dead, long live flamenco!"