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Gutting tuna and cante for Rancapino

Spectacular flamenco evening in the 1st Festival Atún Rojo de Almadraba de Conil de la Frontera.

Photos: Carmen Arjona.


Until a few years ago, Conil de la Frontera was a small coastal town in the Campo de Gibraltar county which was famous for its little white houses and its endless deserted beaches. Eventually, it managed to cling to the wealth of tourism, betting on quality and excellence, and nowadays it leads the hotel and lodging industry of Cádiz province.

Among the best of that lodging there’s the Blanco y Verde hotel and restaurant, where the best retinto stake and the best bluefin tuna in that county is served. In this place, Diego Trujillo and Antonio Sánchez Montilla, among other great aficionados of traditional cante, set up a few years ago the Foro Cultural Flamenco Conil 2016, which in turn took the initiative to create the Festival Flamenco Atún de Almadraba, whose first edition was held last Saturday, honoring Alonso Núñez Núñez “Rancapino”.

This master from Chiclana always had the gift of conveying sorrow and anguish through his voice, hoarse due to walking barefoot, as the artists himself explained. On Saturday he sang a fandango with these lyrics: Ay, que mientras mi “momaíta” de mi alma a mí me viva / que dentro de mi casita tiene un sitio, ay, anda… (“Oh, as long as my dear mother lives / She’ll always have a place at my home…”), and it was a privilege to see from the row of geranium flowerpots the eyes of Jesús Méndez welling up. Because, being past seventy years old, Alonso’s voice brings up the memory of a thousand guttings which wisely separate the meat of bluefin tuna in twenty-four blood-red pieces. Around that ritual, with two hours in front and two hours behind, much of the best of today’s flamenco was gathered.

It’s impossible to describe it all. It was packed to the brim, around one thousand people in attendance, give or take a few. The sound quality was flawless, and the organization incredible, considering it was the first edition of a very ambitious festival. Perhaps a little too long for a public who mostly came from elsewhere and was more interested in flamenco than beaches. We didn’t have a chance to even smell the famed tuna caught in these parts.

We did enjoy the alegrías de Cádiz and the soleares de Alcalá that Esteban Guerrero “Caracolillo de Cádiz” sang to break the fresh sunset breeze. It’s high time that this cantaor, who long ago achieved the category of master, becomes regularly featured in festivals and peñas, because he’s overflowing with talent and wisdom.

Regarding Jesús Méndez, we like everything about him and nothing is wasted, just like in the gutting of tuna. There are no bulerías por soleá more typical of La Plazuela than his, and he pierced our souls many times singing por seguiriyas, particularly when he took us from Porverita to the Santiago district, guided by the hand of Loco Mateo.

The young María Terremoto, daughter and granddaughter of Fernandoes, caused a frenzy in the yard of La Chanca, the old cannery of Conil, with her fandangos and her tientos tangos. Yours truly really liked her bulerías por soleá where she was able to show off her great talent for cante. María’s performance was followed by Carmen Herrera, also from Jerez who danced superbly por fiesta and por alegrías, masterfully sung by Alfonso Carpio el Mijita de Jerez.

Before Pedro el Granaíno wrapped up this festival in La Chanca with superb alegrías on the six and a half, the other Alonso, the kid, performed. I’m not sure who I like better, the father or the son. Rancapino Chico, who is just thirty years old, sang as always and as never before, surrendering to the emotion of singing for his father, who was the artist being honored that evening. Soleares de Mercedes la Sarneta with the aroma of Tomás Pavón, Aurelio’s alegrías and Torta’s bulerías, the ones that go “escucha, escucha, solo, me encuentro solo, debo de ser un solitario…” (“listen, listen, alone, I find myself alone, I must be a loner…”).

Event Notes:

Show: 1st Festival Flamenco Atún Rojo de Almadraba – Tribute to Alonso Núñez Núñez “Rancapino

Place and date: La Chanca yard, Conil de la Frontera (Cádiz). July 14, 2018

Cante: Caracolillo de Cádiz, Jesús Méndez, María Terremoto, Alonso Núñez Núñez “Rancapino”, Alfonso Carpio “Mijita”, Alonso Núñez Fernández “Rancapino Chico” and Pedro El Granaíno

Baile: Carmen Herrera

Toque: Miguel Salado, Manuel Valencia, Antonio Higuero, Paco León, Patrocinio Hijo y Nono Jero

Palmas: Manuel Cantarote, José Rubichi, Diego Montoya and Luis Monje

Presenter: Manuel Bohórquez

Tribute’s diretor: Antonio BarberánBlanco y VerdeAlonso Núñez Núñez “Rancapino”Ay, que mientras mi “momaíta” de mi alma a mí me viva,
que dentro de mi casita tiene un sitio, ay, anda…
“Caracolillo de Cádiz”Jesús MéndezMaría TerremotoCarmen HerreraAlfonso Carpio el Mijita de JerezPedro el GranaínoRancapino ChicoFicha artística:Espectáculo: I Festival Flamenco Atún Rojo de Almadraba“Rancapino”Lugar y fecha:Al cante:“Rancapino”“Mijita”“Rancapino Chico”Al baile:Al toque:Palmas:Presentador:Mantenedor del homenaje:

Filólogo madrileño. Media vida en Sevilla. Centinela de las palabras. Lo jondo le acelera peligrosamente el corazón.