Everything sounds better in Quechua

I’ll admit, I go to church mostly for weddings or funerals so I’m no expert but in my opinion church music is hit or miss nowadays. Mostly a lot of miss, especially in smaller churches. Did you know Elvis Presley much preferred singing gospel over country music or even rock ‘n roll? But nowadays gospel music in many American churches isn’t so great, if you ask me.

The other day we were in a small church in Cusco and the ceremony was nothing special but everything changed when the musicians started to sing in Quechua. When you’re in Cusco, sit in on a mass and listen for yourself. The Quechua songs can move you to tears.

A lot of Peruvian folk music is best enjoyed with a case of beer but IMHO Quechua music is a most beautiful sound: mysterious, romantic, strong and moving all at once.

Félix Casaverde

Yesterday the great Peruvian guitar player Félix Casaverde passed away, he was only 64. From his biography on Facebook:

Guitarrista Profesional Autodidacto Con 49 años de vida profesional, Interprete Compositor y Arreglista. Actualmente dedicado a la pedagogia y hacer arreglos musicales. Obra maestra “CUATRO TIEMPOS JOVENES NEGROS”, ” BALANCE”, ” ELEGIA A MARIA” , “YANINHA” , entre otros.

Peruvian music reflects the diversity of Peru, from traditional Andean music to the Afro-Peruvian rhythms and contemporary pop music.

More info about the life and death of Félix Casaverde at La Republica.

Wendy Sulca: Peruvian teenage pop/folklore starlet

I hardly watch TV, but recently it seems like every time a TV is turned on in the room, there’s some show or feature with Wendy Sulca.

Wendy Sulca was a Peruvian child singer who became popular on YouTube and Peruvian TV shows. Now she’s becoming a bit of a teen starlet.

Wendy Sulca is typically introduced as “niña de folklore” and she signs traditional Huayno music, but in my opinion she’s really a pop/folklore crossover. Here she’s singing a Spanish version of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”.

Wendy Sulca’s most recent hit is “In Tus Tierras Bailare” (in your lands I will dance), where she sings together with La Tigresa del Oriente (The Tigress of the East), and Delfín Hasta el Fin. Alma Guillermoprieto wrote an interesting review of “In Tus Tierras Bailare”.

Some people make fun of her childish voice (according to Wikipedia she’s only 14), but I like her posture and composure on stage, she’s very engaging with the crowd or camera.

According to Wikipedia, Wendy Sulca was born in San Juan de Miraflores, a poor area of Lima. In the official video of her popular song “La Tetita” you see her in the traditional folkloric dress in small towns in the Peruvian countryside, but life in San Juan de Miraflores is nothing like that.

GianMarco 15 Años

Watched the entire “GianMarco 15 Años” movie on the bus to Lima today, a great show taped in Lima’s Estadio Monumental in 2005.

Thanks to the wonders of YouTube, we can share a good bit here. Watch the whole thing, it is well worth it.

Around 4:20 it gets really, really good. He stops for a moment and says:

“Peru is the most beautiful place, we must take care of it”

Willie Colon detained in Peru

This is a few days old, and just wild.

“After a successful concert in Lima, the veteran Puerto Rican salsa musician, born in New York, was intercepted on Saturday by Fiscal Police agents, on orders by attorney Lucila Cabrera, an expert in intellectual property crime.”

He’s accused of having plagiarized a song he recorded in 1974. Read the full story at Andina.

Can you say hypocrisy?

Here in Peru intellectual property rights are virtually non-existent. I’d venture to say in Cusco, a city of about 300,000 people, you CANNOT BUY ANY LEGAL CDs or DVDs. There is no store that I know of that sells the real thing. You can buy pirated CDs and DVDs for S/.2 – S/.4 (~$1) all day long.

The Willie Colon story is reminiscent of the controversy around Paul Simon’s “El Condor Pasa (If I Could)”, except that this was settled on friendly terms.

Gracias a la vida

English subtitles for the linguistically challenged, like myself 😦

Sadly, the news on the condition of Mercedes Sosa’ is not good.

UPDATE: WaPo

“..Mercedes Sosa, an Argentine singer who emerged as a electrifying voice of conscience throughout Latin America for songs that championed social justice in the face of government repression, died today at a medical clinic in Buenos Aires. She was 74…”

Gracias a la vida.

I cried

While Patricia was out this morning the baby woke up, so I put her next to me while I was working…

Baby listening to rock and roll music

Baby listening to rock and roll music

I played some Beatles music on iTunes to keep her entertained.

“… Someone to love,
Somebody new.
Someone to love,
Someone like you.

Love, love me do.
You know I love you,
…”

And I cried…

Darn rock ‘n roll music, without it I would still be living in the suburbs, working my butt off at a job I liked only for the money, every day one day closer to death 🙂

Village people coming to Cusco

That’s right, I don’t mean people from small villages like Accha, but The Village People, the 1970s disco band of “YMCA” fame.

Now Cusco has great nightlife, with live local bands playing bars and discos around the main square and in San Blas. But since I’ve been here, no big name bands have performed in Cusco, which is really surprising considering the amount of culture, history and fun-seeking tourists in the city.

Here’s my wishlist of rock ‘n roll bands who really, really, really ought to come and play in Cusco:

1) Bruce Springsteen. Fresh of his superbowl performance here’s a chance for “the Boss” to prove he’s really all about working people: play a free live show on the shores of Lake Titicaca during 4th Continental Summit of Indigenous People. Have some cervezas with Evo and fly back home to tell the bureaucrats at the State Department that Evo’s not all that bad after all.

2) Mark Knopfler. Just once I want to hear Love over Gold (translation: the reason I’m here) live.

3) Paul Simon. Supposedly Paul Simon spent some time in Cusco. He made the Peruvian song El Condor Pasa famous in the West in 1970, and consequently brought attention to Peru long before tourism here became mainstream. Plus, he’s from New York so maybe he can bring along some people who know how to make real pizza.

4) Peter Gabriel. You’re going to be in Lima later this month, why not take the 1 hour flight to Cusco and play a small gig here?

5) Last, but not least: what could be more Peruvian than this?

“The mountains and the canyons start to tremble and shake,
the children of the sun begin to wake.”

Led Zeppelin!!! The band was more into symbolism than any other I know, and Cusco is full of the symbolism of the Incas. Come on guys… I will make arrangements for you to play at Sacsayhuaman during Inti Raymi, the traditional midsummer celebration of the Incas, what could be more mythical than that?

One of my all time favorites, Jungleland, just begging to be performed in the jungle of Peru:

Feel free to add suggestions 😉

Sad day

Read the news yesterday that Billy Powell, keyboardist for the band Lynyrd Skynyrd, passed away at age 56. He was one of the survivors of the tragic plane crash in 1977 that killed several other members of the band.

Some decisions you make in life turn out much different than you might expect. If hadn’t bought an extra ticket to a Lynyrd Skynyrd show 5 years ago our lives might have been a lot different… I might have never met Patricia, moved to Peru, visited great places like Accha, Ancon or Lago Titicaca.

Here’s a tribute to Billy Powell, the famous piano intro of Freebird: