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El Pañero awarded the ‘Taranto de Oro’

The Taranto de Oro is not just any award, but a prize given by one of the best peñas flamencas in the world, and also one of the oldest.

The Taranto de Oro is not just any award, but a prize given by one of the best peñas flamencas in the world, and also one of the oldest. This flamenco association in the beautiful province of Almería has awarded its accolade to a great cantaor and bailaor from Algeciras, Perico El Pañero, who incidentally lives in that province, although it’s a given that this hasn’t been a factor in the granting of such honor, which is solely based on the quality and artistry of the cantaor. Perico is nowadays one of the most charismatic artists in cante jondo, a cantaor who isn’t for the mainstream, the masses, but rather for the minority who are able to tell the difference between commercial flamenco and pure flamenco. El Pañero is pure flamenco. Yes, pure.

I like to keep defining as pure the artists in the mold of this scrawny Gypsy cantaor, because I love the fact that there are still artists with such natural and authentic artistry, in a genre with so much fodder. I understand that art also needs a business or commercial side. This exists in cante flamenco, in films, in theater and in literature. But the serious critics and, above all, the knowledgeable aficionados, should never allow ourselves to be carried away by commercialism, but must always support quality and authenticity. I remember when Antonio Mairena lamented that cantaores like Tomás Pavón or Juan Talega passed away without their worth being properly acknowledged. Mairena himself may well have ended up destitute and forgotten if he hadn’t been awarded the Golden Key of Cante in Córdoba, by initiative of his close friend Ricardo Molina Tenor, the great writer and poet from Puente Genil.

It’s not that I mean to compare Perico with Tomás or Juan, but he belongs to this group of odd, unusual and fragile cantaores who are not meant for the masses. Perico has been performing on stages for a while, and when he’s at ease he’s able to move very well on the floor. Yet, his true element is in a private room or social gathering among good aficionados, many of them, or just a few. Few is better. There is a video that’s been doing the rounds for a while in the social networks where Perico sings and dances, accompanied by Pepe de Pura in the guitar, which should be featured in universities all over the world. That’s the video where he’s met on stage by one of his disciples, El Purili de La Línea, another unique artist in Gypsy cante and baile.

I believe that acknowledging the artistry of Perico El Pañero with an award such as the Taranto de Oro is a great step in the right direction by the directors of this peña in Almería. The artist is overjoyed, and I assume that the same goes for his fans, who are many all over Spain and even outside our country. This award will encourage Perico to remain in the path of pure, authentic flamenco, in a time when commercial flamenco has been so heavily promoted in the mainstream media. There are not many prizes honoring the artistry and work of the more modest artists, and that makes this award very valuable.

I’ve only watched Perico perform on a stage two or three times, and I’ve loved it. Yet, what I really want is to be with him in a gathering of cabales, good aficionados, because I got bored of almost everything in commercial flamenco. These days, I cannot stand anything that doesn’t move me. Congratulations, master.

Translated by P. Young



Arahal, Sevilla, 1958. Crítico de flamenco, periodista y escritor. 40 años de investigación flamenca en El Correo de Andalucía. Autor de biografías de la Niña de los Peines, Carbonerillo, Manuel Escacena, Tomás Pavón, Fernando el de Triana, Manuel Gerena, Canario de Álora...