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Pepe El Boleco, Chocolate Kid

The young cantaor from La Puebla de Cazalla nailed a great performance before the approving eyes of Márquez El Zapatero

By Luis M. Pérez. Seville, March 18, 2018. Photo: Andalucia TV

Flamenco aficionados once again got together last Saturday at noon, under a bothersome rain. Cante jondo never fills venues, they say. Yet, the Casa de la Cultura in Villanueva del Ariscal (Seville province) was pretty full this morning best suited to staying home by the fireplace than to attending a recital. El Boleco is coming, you know? Have you ever watched him perform? No? You’re going to flip. There is a religious silence welcoming a 16-year old kid. Who is the guitarist? Carrión? This is going to be great.

José Antonio Laguna Medina (a.k.a. “Pepe El Boleco”), born at La Puebla de Cazalla (Seville province) in 2001, has a fake ID. He’s tall and skinny, like a reed that’s just about to break. His head evokes a Gypsy patriarch, with dark skin and the grave expression of a concerned adult, his eyes dark as his throat. The voice coming out of that seemingly old and beaten-up throat chills the bones from the moment he starts singing a seguiriya until he finishes up with the tarantos of Camarón and El Chocolate.

Pepe didn’t have a good start por alegrías, that’s just the way it is. He’s an unpolished black diamond and he’ll have to clear his path from his teen years until he becomes a master. He knows that, his friends remind him of it, and Márquez El Zapatero told him, from first row, with his eyes full of emotion: “Keep a straight path, don’t get sidetracked. You have what’s more important: passion, and a great voice. When you reach my age, you’ll be a hundred times wiser than I am.”

Pepe El Boleco then took the bull by the horns, after a superb introduction por soleá by Antonio Carrión(born in Mairena del Alcor in 1964). We can tell when Antonio feels at ease with a cantaor, all we have to do is see the smile of satisfaction on his face as he plays notes for El Boleco. We could feel the spirit of Antonio Núñez Chocolate in Pepe’s contorted face, as he sang a soleá de Joaquín, a soleá de Juaniquí and a soleá de Mercedes La Sarneta in the linked style of Tomás Pavón.

Then come the fandangos of Tío Chocolate, very well performed, and El Boleco comes on top, even smiling for the first time. “I’ll dedicate this fandanguillo to all of you”, he says, getting up, dismissing his microphone and showing off his talent, emulating Caracol with the word “omaíta”.

Antonio Núñez Chocolate wasn’t known for having a good sense of rhythm when he was accompanied by a guitarist, and the town of La Puebla is not known for its bulerías cortas. Thus, we were pleasantly surprised by the ease with which El Boleco sang this palo. Before we noticed, he had gone to Jerez de la Frontera and back, after soaking his mouth with the darkest sounds of La Plazuela neighborhood, singing the echoes of Viejo Agujetas and Tío Borrico. The public exploded with applause, trying to stand up and assimilate what they had just seen.


Event notes:

Show: Recital de cante en la Peña Flamenca La Solera del Ariscal

Place and date: Casa de la Cultura, Villanueva del Ariscal, Sevilla. March 17, 2018

Cante: Pepe el Boleco

Guitar: Antonio Carrión


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