TRIP WITH TEGUEY
around the towns and villages of Lanzarote
Teguey in concert, El Salinero Theatre, Arrecife
Saturday 23rd July 2022
This concert was conceived as a tribute to our island, its municipalities and its people; in short, to the essence of Lanzarote.
For this occasion, the folk-lore group also enjoyed the participation of the guest soloists, José Manuel García (member of the AF Los Campesinos), Ruymán Martín (member of the AM P El Pavón”) and Nilsa Álvarez.
Such a large line up, and soloists to complement it perfectly, was further increased by ten traditional dancers in island costume, who danced as pairs and in circles that sometimes included all ten of them.
This, in itself, was spectacular, but the stage back-drop was showing cinematic pictures of all the `places, people or artisanship´ referred to in the songs by the folk-lore band.
With the twenty one males of Teguey all dressed in cream trousers and white shirts, Ruyman in a fabulous green dress and Jose Manuel dressed similarly to the band, it was nevertheless the old fashioned multi-layered swirling skirts of the female dancers that really took the eye. Although I am never likely to be asked to replace Craig on the judge´s panel of Strictly, even I could detect the elegance and the grace these couples brought to what seemed to be traditional celebratory dance.
I felt, as I often do when I see this Canarian dance-style, that it reminded of Cajun dancing, which responds to music oif the same name.
My wife, Dee, and I fell in love with Cajun dancing when we visiteda couple of Annual International Cajun Music And Dance Festivals in Bury in the UK. We even went for lessons,…..don´t ask !
Cajun music (French: Musique cadienne), an emblematic music of Louisiana played by the Cajuns, is rooted in the ballads of the French-speaking Acadians of Canada. Although they are two separate genres, Cajun music is often mentioned in tandem with the Creole-based zydeco music. Both are from southwest Louisiana and share French and African origins. These French Louisiana sounds have influenced American popular music for many decades, especially country music, and have influenced pop culture through mass media, such as television commercials.
The Acadians (French: Acadiens [akadjɛ̃], [akad͡zjɛ̃]) are the descendants of the French who settled in the New France colony of Acadia during the 17th and 18th centuries. Most Acadians live in the region of Acadia, as it is the region where the descendants of a few Acadians who escaped the Deportation of the Acadians re-settled.
Acadia was one of the 5 regions of New France. Acadia was located in what is now Eastern Canada‘s Maritime provinces, as well as parts of Quebec and present-day Maine to the Kennebec River. It was ethnically, geographically and administratively different from the other French colonies and the French colony of Canada (modern-day Quebec). As a result, the Acadians developed a distinct history and culture The settlers whose descendants became Acadians primarily came from the south-western region of France, also known as Occitania, such as the rural areas of Poitou-Charentes and Aquitaine (Gascony).
During the French and Indian War, British colonial officers suspected that Acadians were aligned with France, after finding some Acadians fighting alongside French troops at Fort Beauséjour. Though most Acadians remained neutral during the war, the British, together with New England legislators and militia, carried out the Great Expulsion (Le Grand Dérangement) of the Acadians between 1755 and 1764. They forcefully deported approximately 11,500 Acadians from the maritime region. Approximately one-third perished from disease and drowning. In retrospect, the result has been described as an ethnic cleansing of the Acadians from Maritime Canada.
Most Acadians were deported to various British American colonies, where many were put into forced labour or servitude. Some Acadians were deported to England, some to the Caribbean, and some to France. After being expelled to France, many Acadians were eventually recruited by the Spanish government to migrate to Luisiana (present-day Louisiana). Their descendants gradually developed what became known as Cajun culture. In time, some Acadians returned to the Maritime provinces of Canada, mainly to New Brunswick. The British prohibited them from resettling their lands and villages in what became Nova Scotia. Before the American Revolutionary War, the Crown settled Protestant European immigrants and New England Planters in former Acadian communities and farmland. After the war, it made land grants in Nova Scotia to Loyalists. British policy was to establish a majority culture of Protestant religions and to assimilate Acadians with the local populations where they resettled.
Acadians speak a variety of French called Acadian French, which has a few regional accents (for example, Chiac in the southeast of New Brunswick, or Brayon in the northwest of New Brunswick). Most can also speak English. The Louisiana Cajun descendants speak Cajun English and a few speak Cajun French – a close relative of Acadian French from Canada but influenced by Spanish and the West African languages.
Estimates of contemporary Acadian populations vary widely. The Canadian census of 2006 reported only 96,145 Acadians in Canada, based on self-declared ethnic identity. However the Canadian Encyclopedia estimates that there are at least 500,000 of Acadian ancestry in Canada, which would include many who declared their ethnic identity for the census as French or as Canadian.
Other than showing how convoluted can be the migratory patterns of people and their music and their dance, the above seems to offer little to adjoin Cajun and Canarian music. However, I hear enough similarities in the somewhat staccato rhythms of the two music styles and see certain familiar moves in both their dance rituals, (there is a passage called The Kissing Gate in Cajun dance, that was certainly evident in tonights performance)´. If there is any ethno-musicologist out there who is aware of any relationship in the two traditions, I´d love to hear from you, but for now I have some research of my own to undertake, I think.
The Teguey álbum, Este Es Mi Pueblo, contains fourteen beautiful songs, and they each celebrate a town or village, or persons or even an artisanship to be found in the past and present of Lanzarote.
The title track is s proud, and seemingly content, reflection on a home town, here, but one of the most dramatic songs, especially when accompanied on stage by cinematography of the location in question, is Risco De Famera.
In fact, the whole package of this spectacular concert reinforced how settled we have felt here ever since arriving here in November 2015. We have visited, and recognised tonight, every landscape shown on the cinescope. We have been accepted among audiences now at hundreds of wonderful events like this, and we have certainly visited every kind of settlement here.
Actually, the last time we saw Teguey, when they previewed a couple of songs off this album, was in a large tent in the square in Femes, just about the windiest, coldest, highest place on the island on the wrong winter night. They had to battle the sound effects of the elements, rain and wind ripping at the tent flaps, but even then they did a great job.
Tonight, in a comfortable theatre in the island´s capital, they performed Viego Arrecife with particular gusto. The band has a wonderful ability to soar from quiet, contemplative vocals to huge gale force sounds, and that was also true tonight of the two excellent soloists who were both wildly applauded by the audience.
Two closing encores had the 21 band-members, the two soloists and the five male and female pairs of dancers on stage.
Suddenly people were up literally dancing in the aisles to the final encire.
That final encore was Guantanemero !
In case any new residents her from England are of our age and think back to groups like The Spinnersand folk club residents across the country blasting our happy-go-lucky, slightly inisipid versions of that song for so many years, there´s a little bit more to the song´s history.
Guantanamera means “from Guantánamo”. Since the song is partly in the guajira genre and the lyrics of the stanzas were improvised, the words in the chorus could mean either “a female peasant from Guantánamo” or “a piece of guajira music from Guantánamo”.
Originally, the lyrics to “Guantanamera” had a romantic spin and a love affair gone awry. It was a story of a woman who gets fed up and leaves her man after being mistreated, possibly in the form of infidelity. Those lyrics quickly fell by the wayside as the song evolved to one about national pride
Kim Ruchi, one of those ethno-musicologists I referred to earlier updated his own on-line piece in 2018 about the origins of Guantanemera.
Originally written in 1929 as a patriotic song about Cuba, the rhyme scheme and structure of Guantanamera (purchase/download) has always lent itself easily to evolution and adaptation. Both of these things are necessary for any good protest song and that is exactly what it became famous for.
The tune has evolved through the years and is used in struggles for peace and justice across Latin America and the U.S. It has been recorded by a remarkably long and diverse list of artists, including Joan Baez, the Fugees, Jimmy Buffett, Jose Feliciano, Julio Iglesias, Pete Seeger, and numerous others.
Originally, the lyrics to Guantanamera had a romantic spin and a love affair gone awry. It was a story of a woman who gets fed up and leaves her man after being mistreated, possibly in the form of infidelity.
Those lyrics quickly fell by the wayside as the song evolved to one about national pride. After all, the first verse of the song was taken from a poem by Cuban freedom activist Jose Marti. The adaptation cemented it for future use among freedom activists and others struggling for some kind of justice.
Those lines which open the song translate roughly to English as:
I am a truthful man from this land of palm trees
Before dying I want to share these poems of my soul
Later, there’s a verse which speaks of choosing to cast one’s lot with the poor people of the land. No doubt, it’s this verse which catapulted the song from being one about Cuba (where the palm trees grow) to a universal song about class equality and freedom for the poor. It has been used countless times as a rally for economic freedom or social freedom or both.
Guantanamera is sometimes employed slightly differently in the US
The United States has long maintained a military base at Guantanamo in Cuba. This makes the U.S. adaptation of the song a multi-layer statement. It’s typically sung by freedom activists who would like to see that military base close for good, though they don’t usually employ the song to that end.
In America, Guantanamera has been used during anti-war demonstrations, union strikes, marches for an overhaul of the US immigration system, and civil rights for immigrants. In more recent demonstrations, it was sung at Wall Street and around the country where folks were commenting on the balance of wealth.
When employed in the United States, the verses sung tend to remain concise – sticking to the verse about being an honest man. This states “My verses flow green and red” and references blood on the land – an allusion to revolution, though it’s almost never used to incite violence in the US. The final verse speaks about casting one’s lot with the poor.
The chorus, “Guantanamera, guajira Guantanamera” simply refers to singing a song about Guantanamo (Guantanamera is the feminized version of the name).
That simple and repetitive chorus has somehow been adapted or simply copied around the world, in football stadia everywhere.
One Christiano, Manchester United fans used to sing during the first period he played for them, There´s Only One Christiano, though nowadays, in his second term they perhaps sing big waste of money, you´re just a big waste of money.
Tonight, though, Tegeuy delivered the song powerfully, proudly and perfectly. they retained the lilting rhythm of the song and the moves from the dancers in the audience were all shake and sway, as they sang along and danced. It all provided one of the greatest sights I have seen at a concert
And by the way, at the end we were all able to leave in a calm safety as someone had had the neat idea of selling the merchandise, a cd and a cotton tote bag for fifteen euros, before the gig as we entered, instead of at the end when a queue forms and blocks exits.
Three beautiful ladies, all smiles, somehow persuaded me I needed the bag as well, so if see my wife walking around Lanzarote showing the Teguey logo (shown on our cover,) you know that really she´s just proud to say ´we were there!´