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Lorica Grupo Rubicon                 Yaiza

Ranch de Pascua de Tinajo         Femes

Rancho de Pascua de Yaiza         Femes  

by Norman Warwick

Only a couple of nights after seeing Lanzarote´s most loved folk-lore group Acatife we headed for the Casa de la Cultura, Benito Perez  Armas, in Yaiza where another fine local act was playing to parents, spouses, sweethearts, children and siblings and grand-parents.

Lorica Grupo Rubicon (left) are a funded-organisation with a remit to preserve the folk lore songs and encourage children and parents alike to furthering their musical education by learning about these songs and perhaps even playing and singing them ….perhaps even doing so as part of this eponymous group…perhaps even in public.

There were more than thirty people crowding the stage in this beautiful venue and the hundred and twenty seats or so were being filled, or closely guarded, more than thirty minutes before the appointed start time of 8.30 pm. I have spoken in previous reports of how beautiful is  the square in Yaiza, Plaza de Los Remedios, church on one side, government buildings on another, the Casa de la Cultura on the third and the main road to Playa Blanca on the fourth. When it is lit in summer by glorious sunset skies, or in December by Christmas lights a beautiful Belen and an entrancing tree,  it is incredible.

The afore-mentioned parents, spouses, sweethearts, siblings and children and grandparents,…oh yeh, and three of us new(-ish) residents on the island here to hear what the locals hear, rocked and roared away the next ninety minutes or so.

I cannot pretend this ensemble is as yet professional as Acatife, for instance, but the enjoyment they gave us, and the pleasure they took in doing so was what all great concerts are made of.

They delivered folk lore, carols a few Christmas rockers  and were incredibly supportive of each other, so appropriately a high light of the show was two young ladies delivering one of Tina Turner´s greatest hits,…..and like Tina Turner this Grupo Rubicon were  SIMPLY THE BEST.

So that had been Friday evening taken care of  but come Sunday we were back following sidetracks and detours again as we headed up, and up,…and up to Femes. After a gear-gobbling, cog chewing, nerve racking car drive up the mountain I took the first place to park that I could find, regardless of several indications that I shouldn´t be parking here.

We were surprised to see the friends we had agreed to meet here had already arrived so we all sat on the wall and chatted for a little while. We told them about our previous adventures in Femes; of nights when we joined the religious ceremony that saw us following the statue from the church being taken on a tortuous trail up and over and around the village as homage was paid, of the time we followed a tiny, oldish car up the hill only to see it burst into flames in the square. Driver and passenger got out safely only to see their car frazzle and melt before the arrival of what was at the time very much a Plumpton´s style fire-engine, which of course had to come up the same mountain road.

Mass was just being completed in the Iglesa de San Marcial de Rubicon in Femes  as we stood at the open church door waiting to take a pew for the advertised free concert by two major groups, Rancho de Pascua de Tinajo and Rancho de Pascua de Yaiza.

Once we were all seated in a very full church the local priest stood up (is it just my age or are priests getting younger these days?) to introduce tonight´s events. He was obviously delighted to be welcoming these musicians into his church, and the two local councillors at either side of him each made short speeches in agreement with him, and all three of them made us all feel welcome.

With perfect timing the priest announced the name of the first act, the visiting guests. As he welcomed Rancho de Pascua de Tinajo, approximately forty musicians struck a chord, began a song and sauntered smilingly down the aisle to take their place in front of the altar.

There were so many musicians and instruments in the group that the jazz world would have called them a Big Band. Like Acatife, reviewed in recent issues of Sidetracks and Detours and PASS IT ON they had perfect control of their diminuendo and crescendo with both voice and instrument.

The ensemble vocals often rose to glorious choral height and depth and as is soften the case with groups like this in the Canary Islands, the various instruments, timples, guitars and other string instruments seemed to be randomly placed rather than in what we might term as a string section. And yet they created a wonderful, cohesive sound.

Tambourines and other hand held instruments created the percussion and the two musicians standing the closest to us in our front row seats were responsible for a unique blend that we might consider as skiffle and slick, One was playing a small washboard style instrument attached to his chest and the other, with a blend of panache and ferocity, was clicking his castanets. This guy sang, too, and had a beautiful voice, rich in tone and warm in soul.

Their set ended rather too soon for everyone in the audience, but that did bring in the local band, Rancho de Pascua de Yaiza (right). As had the guest artists, they remained at the door of the church and waited to be introduced before walking and playing in process as more than thirty players gathered on the floor space serving as a stage.

Whistles and bird calls could be heard in their music and so could the players obvious love of their island.

We had heard them only a week earlier at a previous concert and when we followed them as they strolled around Yaiza´s town square  playing what was pretty much the same set as  tonight, and it was surprising how much of it felt so familiar after only one previous hearing.

The solo vocals were great, and seemed very souldful with an element of the keening sound that is prevalent in Isreali music.

After their final number had drawn the curtain on what had been an astonishing week of unforgettable sights and sounds of music, we slowly followed the rest of the audience out into the night, and there were these amazing musicians standing and chatting at length with the large number of locals amongst the audience.

A family atmosphere emanated from a music community.

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