Timples@2021, at Teatro El Salinero, Arrecife

Gingers Timples, Convent Santo Domingo; Teguise

YA NO TE QUIERO  Cic El Almacen, (The Warehouse),Arrecife

Los Sabandenos, Jameos Del Agua

a collection of reviews by Norman Warwick

Twenty years after the premiere of Timples @ 2000,  Benito Cabrera  and  Domingo Rodríguez- ‘El Colorao’-  returned to share the stage. This time they were joined by  Germán López ,  Yone Rodríguez  and  Althay Páez . This was a commitment to Canarian music and popular culture, updating the evolution of Lanzarote´s most emblematic instrument. 

Tradition and contemporaneity once again strolled hand in hand with the timple as a vehicle; a direct witness to the transit of our roots in these first years of the new millennium. The songs, carefully chosen, were arranged for the occasion by Manuel Bonino, Carlos Vega, Yul Ballesteros and José Brito (left).

Four timplistas took front row seats with an orchestra containing brass and wind and stringed instruments including acoustic guitar, Spanish guitar, and violin as well as upright bass (right). There was percussion and hand held sound-.makers and bass and also. and most amazingly. a female vocal shape-maker.

The production values on the night were of the top level. A wonderful, shifting and shadowing light show and an always interesting backdrop of timeless images of The Canary Islands as well as abstract moving pictures seemed to me to reflect the universe in which this world exists. As each separate piece of music began there were graphics shown giving the title of the work and the names of its composer and arranger.

Conducted by a lively, always smiling and charismatic musical director this ensemble brilliantly found ways to follow, lead and assimilate the sound of the timple into the more familiar orchestral sounds. Each song has been arranged to leave a  more popular or contemporary imprint, always with the leading role of the timple, capable of empathize with genres such as jazz, world music or classical music.

The music delivered was more than ancient and modern. It was somehow prehistoric and futuristic with echoes of the sounds of the Amazaon Rain Forest, and captured by Dreamcatcher all those years ago. There were also several hues of the blues, some of the grand scope of Aaron Copeland and even Latin American rhythm. The inclusion of the vocalist in this soundscape was only occasional and always brief but every time it took me back to similar music I fell in love with during the seventies, eighties and nineties in the UK.

I found myself thinking of The Chieftains of Ireland, The Rankin Family of Canada (left), and even some Cajun sounds of the like of Beausoliel from America. I loved the banjo of Bela Fleck at that time, too, and I know from my son in South Korea who still follows his work avidly that Fleck has moved now towards these sort of occasional ensemble soundscapes-

The closing number here tonight at the El Salinero Theatre in Arrecife actually took me back to halcyon nights when friends like Steve Jones, an Australian multi stringed-instrumentalist would lead guitartists, pipe players, bhodran players. fiddle players and scores of table top tappers and whistlers in the interval jam session at the Tuesday night folk clubs at The Gallows pub  in Milnrow near Rochdale in the UK. These would last often for half an hour or until all the raffle tickets had been sold and would conclude with a medley of reels and airs. They felt, perhaps rather than always sounded, wonderful and bouncy and atmospheric but were being played, not without skill or energy, by musicians who were merely legends on their own street, whereas tonight´s programme, including its closing jam session-like piece, was played by international, world class musicians, offering inspiration to, but also laying down a marker for the next generation to carry Lanzarotan and Canarian music into the future.

The young graduate musicians we saw delivering a public performance in Teguise the following day demonstrated enough musical skill, empathy and personality to suggest their generation is ready to pick up the baton.

We saw and heard a performance by some of the best and most promising students from the timple schools of Lanzarote And The Canary Islands under the strange ensemble name of Gingers Timplists. This took place at Convent Of Danto Domingo in Teguise, Lanzarote.

Around twenty five young students, accompanied by a professional mentor and guitarist, demonstrated their skills on timple of guitar, with on of the highlights being a student from Aula De Musica Gabriel Cubas playing the Mark Knopfler music of Why Worry. This song by the former leader of Dire Straits is usually played behind the lyrics that speak of comforting loved ones but here is played slowly and beautifully as a stand alone piece of music.

Knopfler included this song on the Dire Straits album Brothers In Arms and the eight minute track was also covered by The Everly Brothers on a 1985 album. Knopfler also duetted the song with Emmylou Harris on their Real Live Roadrunning album.

A presentation to some of the young timplistas who will take us forward
schools represented at Menudos Timplistas 2021 in Convento Santa Domingo, Teguise included
Escueala de Tonin Corujo
Los Llanos de Aridane (La Palma)
Aula de Musica Gabrile Cubas
Escuala Municipal de Tias

The island´´ s Minister for arts and culture made presentations to school teaching representatives from the schools involved and to each of the performing musicians as well a framed poster of the band to the ubiquitous master of ceremonies at such events. We have seen him so many times, smiling and gracious as he introduces the acts and gives details (unfortunately in Spanish that we cannot translate) of careers and recordings to date and the like. He should be fully employed for the next several years. He is the best there is at the job.

We had further evidence that our arts and music are being nurtured and protected during these troubled times by not only the practitioners who create them but also by so many people, professionals and volunteers, who care for the culture of our island and who are seeking to ensure that our culture and receptivity to change survive the pandemic.

In fact, we were hit by a double whammy a few night later when we we returned to Arrecife to watch YA NO TE QUIERO  play at Cic El Almacen, (The Warehouse) (left)

YA NO TE QUIERO is a project led by Fernando Robayna that ventures into different genres and styles, with lyrics and sounds taken from pop culture. Based in Lanzarote, Mame Hernández is on bass, José M. Pérez on drums and Javier Santiago on keyboards. La casa del amor , Another damn song or 10 min., Are some of the songs that appear on his Spotify / Youtube channel.

We arrived in plenty of time for the concert and decided we would eat first at the recently opened Las Rustica in Arrecife. We parked in the underground car park and took the short walk to the restaurant, but were seduced into walking beyond to the source of the sounds we could hear of timples and singing. This lovely music was emanating from the far end of a stroll through Christmas Market stalls, all beautifully lit, and selling all kinds of Christmas items and delicious smelling food items.

These players were part of  The project “Christmas Island”, promoted from the Culture Area of the Cabildo de Lanzarote in collaboration with the cultural groups of the island is taking our music and dances through the seven municipalities of Lanzarote. Timbayba and Acatife performed on the stage installed in the José Ramírez Cerdá park (right) and next to the Kiosk of Music in Arrecife.

The concert began with the performance of the great Timbayba family from the municipality of Tinajo who returned after two years very excited to the stage. The group was directed by Chalo Martín and offered the most representative of traditional Canarian folklore with its songs and dances. The themes they chose in the first place folias, seguidillas and saltonas followed by a siote palmero, isa de los palos, mazurca ending with an isa parrandera. A performance as usual in which Timbayba gave everything and the large audience rewarded them with their applause.

We dashed back down the road to La Rustica, itself beautifully decorated and buzzing nicely with an influx of customers  on their way home from The Christmas Market. I tried to order a Tortilla  Baguette and chips. My young waiter looked at me sadly, and explained (I guess here, because he spoke in Spanish) that this would be a Tortilla Espanol, and they are made with plenty of potato and so, he suggested, I should not order the chips. I didn´t and he was right. My snack was certainly a lovely meal in its own right and very filling. I did, however, manage to force down a beautiful, and large, slab of apple and nut cake, accompanied by a scoop of ice cream, all washed down by a couple of beers without alcohol. Whilst most pizza toppings to me look like a scene out of Nightmare On Elm Street, Dee ordered a Cicilian that I could never have eaten. It was the size of a small sea, but she finished it and was very happy.

So, we skipped round the corner to where many wives, girlfriends, children and family members of the band YA NO TE QUIERO (right) supporting them at an appearance at Cic El Almacen. So, this small intimate theatre was cosily full as the band, one this group we had never seen before, took to the stage. There was a lead singer and vocalist, a tall, stringy bass players, ( sorry, I know, ALL bass players are tall and stringy) who offered us the complete stereotype. He leaned back and languidly plucked upwards on his strings. He set the rhythm on some occasions and at others followed the beat laid down by an excellent drummer under-pinning some riffs of what my old mate and musician Pete Benbow would have described as ´something played pretty in pink´, on the keyboards. That was our long-hand for beautiful filler sounds.

The vocalist guitarist, who actually looked like a young thrusting executive in a software company, delivered a perfect frontman performance. He asserted himself as the driving force of the group but allowed each member the space to enhance the songs, that included slow ballads and up tempo numbers, in their own way. It all worked perfectly and was well received and there is no doubt we will hear much more of YA NO TE QUIERO

We still had one performance to see this in 2021, though, which would close the year for us in a sensational and timeless manner.

Los Sabandenos
Jameos Del Agua, December 2021
photograph by Dutton The Button

The career of Los Sabandeños has been characterized by the rescue and promotion of both Canarian music, culture and tradition, as well those of the countries and territories historically and socially related to our land. This includes our Christmas traditions, too, of course. At this special time of the year thirty two piece ensemble delivered Christmas carols and pieces from the ancient tradition of the islands with the rhythms and melodies of Latin America, countries with which we identify and strengthen ties. In this way, it felt as if the traditional Christmas carols were being preserved but also that then band were bringng music from the different Spanish-speaking cultures and territories.

So what we had was a magical combination of Christmas carols and ancestral pieces from the Islands and the traditional rhythms and melodies of countries with which we are closely linked, such as the Latin Americas. 

The fall and lift in the music of Los Sabendenos is almost impossible to describe. Here, particularly, in the this theatre in the caves at Jameos Del Agua, the swell of music as various parts of the orchestra and vocalists join together, following an instrumental or solo section, is incredible.

To conclude the arts offer in a year when  Time seemed to stand still in fear of covid, Los Sabendos, in a setting somehow both prehistoric and futuristic brought together the ancient and modern, the past and the present, and therein offered hope for the future.

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