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My Walk with the Gypsies

By guest writer Ken McNaughton

Figure 1. Fortified church Les-Saintes-Maries de la Mer May 1997.
I have long been interested in Gypsies, or Roma as they prefer to be called, and developed a passion for the music of the Gipsy Kings while living in New York City. I bought their CDs and saw them perform live at Radio City Music Hall with my Puerto Rican girlfriend at the time, Miriam Gonzales. In 1996, on a business trip to Belo Horizonte, Brazil, I picked up a CD that made reference to Saintes-Maries de la Mer and Camargue (“Estrellas,” 1995). When I got home I googled “Gypsies,” turned up a reference to Saint Sara’s crypt and the name of the town where I knew there was an annual pilgrimage on the Mediterranean coast. I had heard about this through Toni Gatlif’s 1994 movie “Latcho Drom,” which details the migration of the Roma from northern India a thousand years ago by tracing their music westward through Europe into Andalusia. Some scenes were filmed at the festival in Saintes-Maries. The town had a website with a list of accommodations. At the start of 1997 I made contact with Harold S. Lush, who ran a website called the Association of Gypsies/Romani International, Inc. (AGRI). During our correspondence he encouraged my interest in attending the pilgrimage.

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Flamenco guitarist Vicente Amigo at Lincoln Theatre in DC March 6, 2016 + ticket giveaway contest

Flamenco guitarist Vicente Amigo
Flamenco guitarist Vicente Amigo
I can still remember when Vicente made his USA debut here in our Nation’s capital fourteen years ago in February 2002. Of course I went backstage to meet him and to express my appreciation for his music which has been a huge inspiration for me as a lifetime student of the flamenco guitar.

Enough reminiscing, here’s the info you need to know. On Sunday March 6, 2016 at 8:00pm Vicente Amigo performs at Lincoln Theatre 1215 U St NW in Washington DC. Joining him:

  • Antonio “Añil” Fernández, second guitar
  • Francisco “Paquito” González, cajón
  • Ewen Vernal, bass
  • Rafael de Utrera, cante
  • Antonio Molina “Choro,” special guest bailaor

Tickets are available via Lincoln Theatre’s website at http://www.thelincolndc.com/event/886191-vicente-amigo-washington/

TICKET GIVEAWAY: The Lincoln Theatre has authorized me to hold a drawing for a pair of free tickets to Vicente Amigo’s concert on March 6, 2016. All you have to do is provide your name, email and opt-in to be on Lincoln Theatre’s mailing list. The cutoff for entries will be at noon EST on Tuesday March 1st. I’ll randomly draw a name from the submitted entries on Tuesday March 1st and announce the winner here. Good luck!

UPDATE: the winner of the pair of free tickets is Victor Tarrasov. Congrats Victor and see you at the concert!

Karen Lugo and Company at the GALA–November 2015

Guest review by Ken McNaughton

Photo of Karen Lugo by Eleazar Ortuño
Photo of Karen Lugo by Eleazar Ortuño

I started attending the annual Fuego Festival at the Gala Theatre in 2008. That year I went to all three branches of this program…the visiting Spanish troupe, the Washington-DC-based troupe led by my friend Edwin Aparicio, and the family workshop. Michael Perez was kind enough to post my review on his DCFlamenco website. The next year I went to Fuego Festival V to see José Barrios & Company and again Michael posted my review. Each year, the selection and management of the visiting Spanish troupe is handled by Begoña Fernández Pellìcer from the Fundación Conservatorio Flamenco Casa Patas. In 2015 it was headed by the dancer-choreographer Karen Lugo, who also visited three years ago, albeit with a different company.

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Flamenco Rumba at the Sofitel

[Editor’s note: Longtime local supporter of the DC flamenco scene and a personal friend, Ken McNaughton, kindly gave me permission to publish his review of an Art Soiree event featuring local flamenco artists. Enjoy!]

Figure 1. Sandro, cofounder of Art Soiree.
Figure 1. Sandro, cofounder of Art Soiree.

Art Soiree is organized by Sandro Kereselidze and his girlfriend Tatiana “Tati” Pastukhova. Sandro is from Georgia in the Caucasus region; Tati is from Crimea. I attended my first Soiree 18 January 2014 and my second on their fifth anniversary on 12 September, both at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Georgetown, DC. On Friday 29 May 2015, Sandro hired some of my flamenco friends for a Rumba night at the Sofitel in Washington.

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Miguelito’s first flamenco gig in Spain…Granada to be exact!

DC-based flamenco guitarist Miguelito’s experience performing in Spain for the first time in the city of Granada.

Singer David Sorroche and guitarist Miguelito performing at Cueva La Fragua in Sacromonte, Granada, Spain
Singer David Sorroche and guitarist Miguelito performing granaína at Cueva La Fragua in Sacromonte, Granada, Spain. TIP: Click on this photo or any of the photos in this blog entry for the full-size view. They’re especially beautiful on a large screen. (Photo by Natan Fotografia)

It’s 11-something am on a Monday. I’m here at my favorite cafe in Arlington enjoying fast Internet and delicious espresso as I type these words. And yeah it’s been two months now since I’ve returned from my May/June trip to Spain, but I was waiting (patiently) for the photos from the professional photographers to finally arrive. And I think you’ll agree with me that they’re absolutely gorgeous and worth the wait. Enjoy!

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