Category Archives: Music

Paper Moon Music Delivers

 

For as many years as I’ve been playing guitar, 25 now, it seems that the simplest things can sometimes perplex me. That’s why I’m glad to have other musicians, friends, students and teachers in my circle who can offer things from their perspective, point of view or what have you to help shine a light.

http://www.sandiegoguitarlessons.com/virtual-tour.htm

This week, I went by Paper Moon Music (PMM) , – it’s located here in San Diego, in the Point Loma neighborhood, address is 4051 Voltaire Street, for anyone interested – for Music Theory session with owner Scot Taber and got an excellent understanding of Intervals and their use. Scot and his team are some knowledgeable folks and it’s always good for me to be able to bounce ideas off of someone who can simplify subject matter like Music, especially when everyone loves it, and it’s probably been around as long as humankind could make sound.

Anyway, if you need music lessons for yourself or a mini-you, consider Paper Moon Music: website is www.sandiegoguitarlessons.com

They even teach piano, which I’m considering and I believe voice, which I definitely need!

Another awesome thing that Paper Moon Music does is bring in fabulous musicians for workshops and concerts. I’ve taken workshops with Flamenco guitarist, Jason McGuire, “El Rubio,” Brazilian guitarist Julio Lemos as well as seen him perform through PMM, and seen the Adam del Monte Trio.

Well that’s all for now “Little Chops”! Enjoy your week and remember, peace, love and before you do anything, always ask yourself, “What would Chop do?”

Pork Chop…,They Grow Up So Fast, Pop!

Twenty one years old! I can’t believe it. My first-born! Mi Orisha Enana! My Yemaya, Mother of the Oceans, and savior of my heart and soul is twenty-one years old today. She came into the world with only a little angst, born in the wee hours of morning, with rain coming down and my wife being brave despite the fear that must have enveloped her, because it enveloped me! Would she be healthy, would she be okay. Mi Orisha Enana, a phrase I swiped from a Jose Marti poem about his son. I was big into Cuba and Marti back then, and writing. I used to write in a journal for her that was all Spanish. I used to speak Spanish to her. All of that fell by the wayside, but not my love for that darling little creature who was so tiny and with a head full of hair, and had the most adoring look that I had ever seen. I was even afraid to hold her for fear that I would drop her. The nurses, far from being helpful, were antagonistic and shoved her at me, with admonitions that almost made me lash out, but I did not, and restrained myself and took that little one into my arms and held her and kissed her little forehead and cheeks.

I wished that my father would have been alive to see her. I wished a great many things were possible regarding my father, but realized that if he were alive, then maybe My Yemaya, Mi Orisha Enana would not be able to be in existence. When I was twenty-one, my father was taken away from me, beaten up during a drug deal turned robbery, and then left to die by asphyxiation. He wasn’t meant to die, but he did. Complications with his asthma being the culprit in the end, so in theory, one could say it was an accident, his own lack of will to go on, a strange kind of suicide brought on by the complications of being tied up. None of that matters to me now, at least in this moment, and my only concern is that My Yemaya, Mi Orisha Enana, knows who Pork Chop was. Oh yeah, I told her about him on our little jaunts around town to go and play tennis or get ice cream or drop offs at school. I told her the good and the bad, and of course how much I loved him, and how little I truly knew about him, and of course, how it hurt me tremendously to not have known him, or gotten to know him when I was a man. I had to tell her about him. He implored it through a dream. It was one May 13th when I awoke clutching my chest and crying, because I had dreamed of him and My Yemaya, Mi Orisha Enana.

I was on the tennis court, battling with someone, as I am apt to do. My Yemaya, Mi Orisha Enana, was sitting outside the gate, watching me. She couldn’t have been more than 8 or 9 years old, and she was smiling and I smiled back at her. We both knew I had my opponent on the ropes and it was time to put an end to the madness. I looked over at her one last time before serving, and who was there by her side? Pork Chop, Austin J. Hubert Sr. I smiled even harder, and pumped up my chest, because in all the years that I have played tennis, my dad never got a chance to come and see me play, especially when I played in high school and invited him to a match, but he couldn’t make it. I served, and did my thing, and just as I was moving to the net to shake my opponents hand, I saw Chop walking away with Yemaya. He held her by the hand and she looked up at him and smiled just as she looked at me. She knew her grandfather and was eager to walk off with him. The problem for me was this. In the dream, I knew that he was long gone from this world, and seeing him walk away with my first born filled my heart with fear, and I awoke clutching my chest and crying, short of breath and fearful. I went in and checked in on my little one, and she was sound asleep, and peaceful. By the time I had my morning coffee and began writing down the dream, I realized that it was Chop’s birthday. He wasn’t taking My Yemaya, Mi Orisha Enana, away from me, he was ensuring that I did not forget him and that I shared who he was with her.

I regret not having him here now and that I did not get to know him as I grew more and more into manhood, but I also understand that he had to leave. He had to go away so that I could become who I am, in all of my complications. Spanish-speaking, Flamenco playing, Farsi trying to speak, Portuguese learning, two times a father, one time a husband, convoluted self etc., etc.,

Happy Birthday, My Yemaya, Mi Orisha Enana, from me and Pork Chop!

More about Yemaya: http://www.aboutsanteria.com/yemayaacute.html

The Father, Son and Holy Ghost for how I Deconstruct the 12 in Bulerias

 

When most non-Spaniards, and those new to Flamenco pick up the guitar, the first thing they are consumed by is the concept of the 12 and in turn, starting on the 12. I guess it’s not their fault. I realized that it’s the way it’s taught by a lot of folks, Spaniards included, and to be honest, it’s the way that I learned and am only now realizing that it should have been explained in a different way. Now, before we get too deep, let me preface this little jaunt with the following. I am not a Flamencologist and only make feeble attempts to play Flamenco based off of the time I have spent playing for dancers since 1994, starting at Juanita Franco’s studio and later participating with different groups in and around the San Diego, California area. This post is an opinion piece and by no means is meant to have folks going to their instructors and saying, “Agu said.” In addition, I will go as far as saying that I am and will forever be “chiquillo” in this aspect, so as you read this, take what I have to offer with a grain of salt, and please leave a comment down below. I love discussing the ins and outs of compas and music in general.

My big beef with the 12 count compas, especially in Bulerias, is that it is one dimensional and is touted as the only thing that is going on when a Buleria is being played. I even had a non/new-Flamenco try and correct me while I was trying to show him something. I have my own beliefs for why he ventured in to the shit storm he was about to receive, but I’ll leave that for another day. Anyway, It took every ounce of my control to not curse him out and not go super flamenco on him. He said, “No, it’s 12-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12-1…” His compas was non existent and because of his other guitar skills, he believed that he was accomplishing the goal of playing a Bulerias. But this post isn’t meant to bash the young man, but instead shed light on the method by which he was shared something as a gateway into I world I have been living in since 1992 when I first went to Spain, and roamed the streets of Granada and the Sacramonte and Albaicin, with a Sony Walkman in my pocket and my favorite flamenco tape playing and replaying over and over again.

When we look at the 12 count, the first thing I think of, especially now that I have a couple of years under my belt, is this: how many times can a 12 be divided and by what? I can do it in 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, and 6’s. Admittedly, I haven’t really found myself breaking a Buleria into 4’s, but I have done it in 2’s, 3’s and definitely 6’s. One of my favorite and most elusive rhythms happens to be the Waltz rhythm in a Bulerias, forever entrenched in my brain because when I returned from Spain, I discovered Pedro Bacan and his family, specifically the four CD set, “Noches Gitanas en Lebrija: Solera, Al Alba, Luna and Fiesta”, and it altered the way that I wanted to play Flamenco, although I didn’t or wasn’t able to find anyone to help me discover what Pedro was doing until I met Ethan Margolis. Ethan opened up the nature of breaking the 12 into different parts, and I began to see and comprehend the Waltz within. I also credit Juan Moro, for getting me to learn how to stay in one chord and play a 12, which made me more comfortable with my compas. And without question, credit goes to Paco Sevilla, my first teacher when I returned to the U.S. because he helped me with a lot of my Diego falsettas and that in itself was a rhythmic adventure.

When I sit down to Bulerias, because of my music studies, I am less and less drawn to the traditional falsettas, and the traditional means of counting out that compas. There is only one thing that I consider from a traditional standpoint, and that has to deal with the structure. What is a falsetta? It is a call, response and resolution. It is essentially a story based off of something I’ve always believed, in and feel is crucial to our way of thinking under a Western mindset: the concept of 1, 2, 3. It is constructed of a beginning, middle and end, a three act play. The concept of 3 permeates it, as it does a lot that goes into our thinking. For religion, it is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It’s the 3 points of the cross. It’s the essence of our thinking, and when it comes to Bulerieas, although I am not a religious man, I find myself drawn to a series of threes, whether with a rhythmic falsetta or a melodic one, more than anything else, and then I go into the 12. It makes things complete and fills me with a sense of accomplishment. Leave the 12 alone, if only for a little while, my sister and brethren. Who knows, you may breath new light into your compas!

 

Agu’s Songs to Learn and Sing

Last night, after sitting with it for a couple of hours and scouring You-Tube for some examples, I was able to find my tone and successfully get a version of The Police’s “Message in a Bottle” down. I’ve always loved that song, probably since I first heard it way back in high school. The key for me, no pun intended, was finding my own key. At first I had to learn the chords of course, and then the chore was to substitute them for the key that I’m most comfortable in. That key has repeatedly revealed itself to be the key of C/C#. Message in a Bottle is done in C#m, A, B and F#m. That my friends is the key of D, minus making that C#m a diminished chord. And what else is in the key of D? Well, none other than my beloved Tarantos, a Flamenco Palo that I’ve always admired and adored, but never really explored the way that I should have. I say that in jest, because during my none Music Theory days, I admit trying to learn a Solo or to for it, and did learn some traditional falsettas that could be played for the dancers. For dance it’s got that Tangos 4/4 rhythm and it can even be done in a Bulerias.

Here’s that first attempt at Message in a Bottle without the chorus:

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10154937512269430&id=792109429&_rdr

Anyway, after learning what the chords to Message in a Bottle were and substituting them out (Bm7 add 9 (or not), G7, A add 9 and E add 9 all I had to do was play with a rhythm that I felt comfortable with. Increasingly throughout this journey that rhythm has been Bossa Nova. For some strange reason Bossa allows me the freedom to sing, even more so than the Rumba rhythms that I’m most familiar with because of Flamenco. Why, I have no idea, I only know that there is a certain calmness I get that doesn’t make me feel rushed, and thus, I’m exploring it more and more. For my own musical taste, I find that strange, but delightful as well, primarily because I’m so new to Bossa. Last week for example, I was able to do a rendition of David Bowie’s “Rebel, Rebel”, but only because I saw Seu Jorge performing it on a FaceBook live stream a day before his Life Aquatic concert here in San Diego.  When I realized what the chords were, and saw what he was doing with them, I felt that I could take it and run with it.

I plan to take some more Bowie tunes and do them, because if you know me, you know that Bowie was my man, but for right now I’m a little than more interested in The Police , and playing with some of their tunes. Maybe I’ll alternate between Bowie and The Police. The end goal is to be able to perform them at my gigs on Tuesday nights, at the Turquoise, located here in Sunny San Diego.

Flamenco Renacimiento for el Moro…Fin de Verano 2016… Part 1

findeveranoOn this first day of Fall, I’m feeling melancholic and a bit of anxiety regarding the events of about three weeks ago. Every Labor Day weekend, there’s a big Flamenco Fiesta/Juerga/Party/Strike that takes place here in San Diego. The first one that I ever attended was back in 1993, after I got back from Spain. It was magical then and is magical now, although I admit that I’ve missed a few of them due to logistical reasons which I won’t go into because of people’s personal business, as well as the gossip that surrounds any group of folks, but especially we Flamencos. Maybe its due to the passion and fire that we have for the art form which often spills over into our personal lives sometimes hurting and sometimes endearing the folks that we love even closer to us. Whatever it is, I’m not going to make any more enemies than I already have by spreading gossip here. So lets’ go on to the Fiesta.

As I mentioned, my first Fiesta was extremely magical, and the ones that I went to after that became even more so, but for me, as I believe life should be, Flamenco changed my perspective on things and making me change in a good and bad way, and so I grew tired of the things I was doing and didn’t know how to get out of the rut. I actually ended up not playing guitar for two years and abandoned the 18 years I spent honing my meager skills playing for dance classes, performing around San Diego for private and public functions, and trying to learn how to play effectively for singers (that last one is still a struggle, but I’m getting there). When I came back to Flamenco, it was with a different vibe. I no longer believed in purity, and the Purists out there can debate me on this later, and I no longer believed in isolating myself from folks, despite how it made me cringe, when they mentioned how much they loved Otmar Liebert or Armik or any other musicians who were doing their thing (Purists, you can crucify me later). I didn’t say, that’s not Flamenco, I simply said, “Oh, yeah that’s cool.” I didn’t say, “You should check out what’s going on at some of the Parties/Juergas I go to.” Why, because even when I’m playing and trying to do my thing, there are those who say, “That’s not Flamenco,” (Purist’s, you know who you are) and the 18 or so years I spent seem in vain, and so, in order to get better at Flamenco when I came back, I left Flamenco, and went into Jazz, Bossa Nova, and even the Blues. It’s been a blast and I’m creating more in Flamenco than I ever did before, but you can come and see me play to better determine that.

My current melancholy comes not from my inability as a guitarist, it comes from the beauty and joy I saw and experienced at the Fiesta. The artistry was constantly in the air and I felt happy and sad the entire time while there. I got to laugh and cry and play with folks who reminded me of times I spent with my best bud, Salvador Camaraza way back in 1992 when we shared a flat in Granada Spain, in the Albaicin. We would go up into the Sacromonte when we needed to purify ourselves of the bullshit and fun that we experienced in Spain. Mostly me dealing with my blackness there, both enjoying and trying to keep from punching the hell out of someone. They were good times. I loved being in the world and although I never went to a Flamenco show, I did see Flamenco. I experienced it in the caves up in the Sacromonte, and in a Pena Flamenco out in the outskirts of Granada. This Fin de Verano took me back to those times and inspired me to spend the four hours a day on guitar just to play successfully one falsetto (now my own and not someone else’s) like a boss!

I missed seeing a lot of my San Diego Flamenco’s and saw a view I could have gone without seeing, but hey that’s they way things are in Flamenco and especially with me. I can cut you off just as easily as I can go out of my way to break bread with you, and that’s just who I am, especially when crossed, but I’ll only be bitter for a little while and going to this Fiesta was akin to folks who go to three day retreats. I came back rejuvenated, and willing to work and welcome all. It was a good time, and the artist were as genuine as the folks I connected with in Spain… to be continued.