Book launch by Larry Yaskiel – Cic El Almacen

We had convened in the wonderful artsy gallery and buzzing pub and restaurant that is Cic El Almacen, in Arrecife, on Lanzarote. This was to officially announce the publication of Larry Yaskiel´s second book in less than eighteen months: (following a factual and historical book about six hundred years of connections between the UK and The Canary Islands, published with English and Spanish versions between the same cover.) This one however, deals with his previous life in the music business. That Larry has become a favourite son of the island, with his wife Liz held in equal affection, is evidenced by the fact that The Cabildo has stepped in to publish and promote a book that celebrates the life Larry led before he even arrived here to live on Lanzarote.

Larry Yaskiel and wife Liz at a book signing

It made perfect sense that they should assist in the publication of his previous work about the connections between The British Isles And The Canary Islands, but the text of La Rocola de Bar Rumba covers the period from 1958 to 1979. Nevertheless, it carries a prologue by Miguel Rios and gives us a fascinating notion of the sidetracks and detours that brought to the island a man who would then launch a quarterly, glossy magazine. Lancelot has surely contributed massively to not only boosting the number of British tourists who have come here over the years, but has also lent massive guidance and support to those who do come here to Lanzarote from the UK on holiday or even here to finally settle down.

The cover of the book shows two dapper looking rock guys, Larry and Miguel Rios, and the title refers to a German bar in Hamburg that, for much of the period covered by the book, was renowned for its eclectic juke box in the corner and where Larry first began work as a doorman.

Tonight he sat in the centrally positioned chair of three laid out at the front of the downstairs gallery room in Almacen, admittedly looking slightly changed from the hirsute man who smiles from the cover of his book. He was formally introduced to his audience, although no such introduction had actually been needed, but instead had been an act of courtesy.

Laryy (left) with Miguel Rios
on the cover of his second book

After that we had a short recorded burst of Song Of Joy by Miguel Rios and then, and once Larry´s interviewer, on his left, had given a short introductory speech and then thrown his first question it was immediately apparent that Larry has changed not one jot from that narrator in his book, who shows such a love of life and its people, and who achieved so much for so many artists simply through his own contagious enthusiasm for their work.

This being a book written in Spanish, it had attracted an audience primarily of Spanish speaking islanders, and therefore the question and answer session was conducted in the native tongue. Larry´s speaking of Spanish as a second language was still way too good for me, so I picked up only a few words I recognised; the spoken name of Cat Stevens followed by Larry´s sung opening lines of Wild World; names that fell out in his conversation like Elvis Presley, Duane Eddy, Klauss Voorman, Manfred Mann, Hendrix, The Beatles and Stuart Sutcliffe; references to radio like the BBC Light Service; Radio Luxembourg; Pirate radio ships; a Tenerife holiday in 1963 shared by Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.

When Larry drew to a close his interviewer invited questions from the floor. Oscar Perez, a former Cabildo officer in the Department Of Culture, who has worked closely with Larry in the past, asked a question about Pink Floyd, and Larry´s answer made reference to their infamous slogan of the floating-pig air balloon and to their album, The Wall, with its lines about how ´we don´t need no education´ and its warning to ´hey, teacher, leave those kids alone.´

Nevertheless, a life as full as that lived by Larry surely has lessons for following generations and I feel the Cabildo are wise to support this book, as it is sensible and informative, rather than salacious and incriminating, and could prove not only useful to young people but also entertaining to their parents (and grandparents.) Incidentally, not only was Oscar in the audience tonight, but so too was former president Pedro San Gines, another indication of the esteem in which Larry is held.

Another young man in the audience then asked about a song and musicians Larry refers to in the book.

The questioner said he had first come across the song when it was featured in the film Reservoir Dogs. That would have been made a couple of decades after the song was recorded and released by Stealers´ Wheel, so this provides a great example of how wise is Hugh Moffatt to advise today´s songwriters ¨to prepare what they write for light years of travel.´ Indeed, Larry himself said later, off stage and in English, how important it is that music continually evolves, to reach new audiences.

Larry Yaskiel
with his two publications

During the informal photo and chat sessions afterwards Larry spoke briefly to me about his own memories of The Flying Burrito Brothers, (this in response to my own reference to The Byrds) and Gram Parsons, and he emphasised again that ´Music Is Important.´

I fully recommend that you seek out copies of Larry´s book.  You will surely find La Rocola del Bar Rumba on your search engines, and I know the book will reward your reading of it, and that you, too, will then reaffirm that music is important !

Because Christmas and New Year celebrations lean heavily on the arts to recreate nativity scenes, tell Christian stories and sing carols we only recently managed to conduct  the  interview intended to form part of this review. However, we will print our eventual extensive and exclusive interview with Larry Yaskiel in another of our Words From The Writer series in our next post.

So watch this space.

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