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Grandpa talks about sharing experiences with flamenco artists

I panicked, but I went outside with him anyway. Then he told me: “I listen to you every night on the radio and I want to tell you that you are the only flamenco critic these days that has one ounce of self-respect”. I breathed a big sigh of relief and from that day on we became great friends.

-Grandpa, sharing experiences with the artists is important to learn how to love flamenco, regardless of expertise, right?

-Of course, Manolito.

-There is no way to share to share experiences with the artists anymore, is there?

-Why do you say such thing? Of course there is, it’s a mistake to think otherwise. Young aficionados today seek to meet Poveda, Arcángel, Antonio Reyes, Jesús Méndez, Esperanza Fernández or Estrella Morente, just as, in my days, I sought to meet Mairena, Enrique Morente, La Paquera, Menese, Lebrijano or Camarón. It’s something essential to better understand the flamenco artists, who always have been approachable and caring people. Look, Mairena would go to his hometown(1) and get into parties in bars, hanging out with his friends, and almost always he would end up singing something. He  would even have singing duels with young cantaores, like with Confite, for example, who sang wonderfully and was the one who teased him. In this regard, Antonio was a very humble man.

-With which artists have you shared experiences like that, grandpa?

– With almost all the artists from the last forty years. I hanged out with Mairena only once, though. That was in Seville, at the Peña Niño Ricardo in the Alfalfa neighborhood, very close to where Silverio and Pastora Imperio were born. That night he gave a lecture and he was joined by the guitarist Pedro Peña, brother of Lebrijano, who accompanied him in his last record, El calor the mis recuerdos(2). Antonio ended up taking his shirt off, leaving only his tank top, as it was a small peña and it was very hot. He sang, among other things, the so-called soleá de Charamusco. Also present at that meeting were Matilde Coral and her husband Rafael El Negro, Naranjito and Luis Caballero, Nano de Jerez, the flamenco critic Miguel Acal and a good group of great aficionados. Just imagine, what a privilege having been there.

-What about artists from Jerez?

-I remember that in 1981, if my memory is right, there was a charity event in behalf of Tío Borrico at the Lope de Vega theatre, in Seville, attended by almost all the flamenco personalities of those days. I was a good friend of Borrico’s daughter, María la Burra, who lived in Seville, and she invited me backstage to meet her dad and Tía Juana la del Pipa (the mother of today’s Juana de la Pipa). And there I saw something heavenly: Tío Borrico singing to Juana, both seated, by bulerías, in a way that is still etched in my memory. That woman lifted her arms so gracefully, with her head so well poised… I don’t thing I’ve ever seen something so flamenco in my whole life.

-Did you ever met Terremoto (senior)?

-Yes, I’ve got a moving story about him. It happened in 1981, five days before he died. He was going to sing in the Festival del Verdeo in Arahal, my hometown, and I went backstage to greet him. He was playing the guitar and I noticed his face was flushed red like a tomato. He told me his health was not very good. I took a picture of him, which I still have, and that night he sang and danced wonderfully. The following weekend he performed at the Festival de Ronda, and that was his last festival. When I went to develop the roll of film, it turned out that all pictures were fogged out and damaged, all except Terremoto’s picture, and a picture of my little dog, who had also died in those days. I told that story once to Terremoto’s son, Fernando, and his mother, in a radio show in Madrid, and they were both moved to tears.

-What about artists of baile?

-I was good friends with Farruco, although I only got acquainted with him in his later years. One night when I was presenting Juana la del Revuelo at the Peña Flamenca El Chozas, in Seville, Farruco showed up with his son-in-law, El Moreno. I was on the stage talking about Juana and I saw Antonio in front of me, looking at me very seriously, as if he were analyzing me, and to tell you the truth I was getting worried, thinking that perhaps he was upset because of something I’d written. When I got off the stage, he approached me and asked me go to outside to talk to me. He told me: “Look, I know you are Manolo Bohórquez, and for a long time I’ve been wanting to talk to you face to face, man to man”. I panicked, but I went outside with him anyway. Then he told me: “I listen to you every night on the radio and I want to tell you that you are the only flamenco critic these days that has one ounce of self-respect”. I breathed a big sigh of relief and from that day on we became great friends.

-Nice stories, grandpa.

-The artists are people, human beings, although sometimes we think of them as gods. They’re not. If anything, the best reason to become a flamenco aficionado is to have the opportunity to get to know the artists well and enjoying their art, whenever possible, on and off the stages. Keeping distances, of course, because in flamenco we all have our own roles. Sharing experiences with the artists makes you wiser and more sensitive. It helps you comprehend the true motivation of the artists and understand better what they do, in their own environment. An aficionado who hasn’t shared experiences with the artists is like a gazpacho without cucumbers.

-Whoa, grandpa, you were going so well, but with such analogy you’ve broken the spell. You have to be more careful with your punch lines, you know?



(1) Mairena del Alcor

(2) The warmth of my memories


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...