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Juanito Villar, the best ambassador of Flamenco from Cádiz

The González Byass wineries in Jerez presented the schedule of activities for ‘Veranea en la Bodega’, whose flagship is the VII Tío Pepe Festival. Then, on to some tapas with Juan Villar, Jesús Méndez and Antonio Reyes to chat about the temperature in August, flamenco and life…

The González Byass wineries in Jerez presented the schedule of activities for ‘Veranea en la Bodega’, whose flagship is the VII Tío Pepe Festival. Then, on to some tapas with Juan Villar, Jesús Méndez and Antonio Reyes to chat about the temperature in August, flamenco and life…

On Wednesday 2nd June, the González Byass wineries in Jerez presented the schedule of activities for Veranea en la Bodega (Summer in the Winery). The flagship of this event is the Tío Pepe Festival, which celebrates its seventh edition in 2021. Throughout July and August, the facilities of this wine and marketing empire will be full of life thanks to the programme set out by the management, in a clear commitment to music and gastronomy.

Highlights of the festival will include concerts by Perales, Isabel Pantoja, Víctor Manuel and Ana Torroja. However, there will also be space for flamenco with the Solera y Compás series for which three shows are planned, featuring Juan Villar, Jesús Méndez, Israel Fernández and Diego del Morao (29th July), Capullo de Jerez, Antonio Reyes and Rancapino Chico (11th August) and María Terremoto, Anabel Valencia and La Tana (12th August).

Among the many politicians, producers, media representatives and sponsors who attended the presentation, in the eighth or ninth row of seats was Juanito Villar in his burgundy shirt, listening carefully to everything. It gave us great pleasure to meet up with him once the press conference was over, as it is impossible not to love this friendly and sincere Flamenco singer from Cádiz.

It was about lunchtime when the function, greetings and photographs came to an end, so we headed to a nearby bar for some tapas. A pleasant gathering with Juan, Jesús Méndez and Antonio Reyes, among others, in which the master from Cadiz led the conversation. The two younger Flamenco singers listened to him talk about Caracol, the tablaos of Madrid, Farruco, and Manuela Carrasco. He sang about Las Grecas and discussed the Popular Party MP from Madrid who recently said that flamenco was born in the capital… Juanito spoke openly about everything. He gave clear advice to both Jesús and Antonio, stressing that the important thing for an artist is their personality: “Always put your own stamp on it”.

What kept surprising me was his love for Cádiz, the land where he was born in 1947 for the greater glory of flamenco. “Cádiz is the birthplace (of flamenco)”, he would exclaim over and over again. When he spoke of La Perla he seemed to drool. “We have all had a drink there, but La Perla was special”. Jesús Méndez commented that he “loves” to reserve a table on the terrace of his peña, over in La Caleta, and eat fried fish. Juan cried out again, “That is paradise! There’s no place that does it better!”. His smile grew time and time again as he talked about his people and their customs.

From this, Jesús and Antonio understood that artists like Pansequito or Juanito Villar himself should be on more posters, as they are the ones who are still around from the generation that changed an era. This year the “maestro”, as I called the singer from Chiclana in our discussion over lunch, will be representing that generation in the new event from the Baluarte de la Candelaria, the festival that was once Jueves Flamencos organized by the Peña El Mellizo and is now Cádiz Flamenco, (and, understandably, under different promoters). Juanito will perform on the 12th August and will share the bill with Rancapino (the veteran) and Juana la del Pipa. “What a joy it is to have these Thursdays again”. Then back to Cádiz, its temperature in August, his life…

To this I said to him: “And to think that they haven’t named you Hijo Predilecto (*) of your city yet!” He jokingly replied: “I’d rather be given money than lots of plaques”.

Although he didn’t say as much, there is no doubt that for this living legend of flamenco singing, this would represent a great gesture – an award to honour an intense career that has lasted over half a century.

 

  • An honorary title given in Andalusia.

 

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Jerez, 1991. Flamenco y comunicación las 24 horas del día. Desde 2012 en prensa escrita, tertulias radiofónicas, programas de tv, presentación de festivales, revistas especializadas... En mi familia todos bailamos por bulerías, aunque yo soy el único periodista.

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