28 diciembre 2014

La canción de la semana #454

...is Mi Gitana by one and only Amparo Sánchez, from her new album Espiritu del Sol.

19 diciembre 2014

La canción de la semana #453

As the year draws to close, I cannot ignore this mega-hit any longer. It won this year's three Latin Grammies including Song of the Year as well as Best Spanish Video and Best Spanish Language Song at Los Premios 40 Principales... If you were in any Spanish- or Portuguese-speaking country this year, or any bar that plays Latin music, you couldn't possibly have missed it: Bailando written by Descemer Bueno (of Yerba Buena fame) and performed by Enrique Iglesias. Personally, I like the salsa version of this song by Croma Latina more than the original.

Enrique Iglesias — Bailando — original Spanish version ft. Descemer Bueno and Gente de Zona

Croma Latina ft. Jesus El Niño — Bailando (Salsa Version) Official Video

29 noviembre 2014

La canción de la semana #450

En Guantánamo (with Orquesta Sensación) by Abelardo Barroso on Grooveshark

...is En Guantanamo by the legendary sonero mayor Abelardo Barroso and Orquesta Sensación. This song, together with his other greatest hits, appears on Cha Cha Cha, the retrospective by World Circuit released on 25 November 2014.

21 noviembre 2014

La canción de la semana #449

...is Te la creío tú recorded by Chambao in 2005. This song concluded the band's concert at Escenario Santander yesterday, and it sounded more like this:

15 noviembre 2014

La canción de la semana #448

...is Luz by Ida Susal, a project by Julia Botanz Guimerá from La Laguna, Tenerife. Ida Susal were performing at III Encuentro Internacional de Canción de Autor in Santander. The band's first (totally crowdfunded) album caraAcaraB, containing a CD plus a 32-page beautiful illustrated book, is out now.

01 noviembre 2014

La canción de la semana #446

...is Mi voluntad by the legendary Spanish rockers Extremoduro, from the band's 2013 album Para todos los públicos. Extremoduro are playing Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Estadio de Gran Canaria) on 7 November and Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Recinto Portuario Anexo Aud. Adan Martín) on 8 November.

24 octubre 2014

La canción de la semana #445

...is Tango De Vereda performed by El Turbión, a band from Buenos Aires now residing in Granada, Spain. You may have guessed by now that I saw them performing live in Santander.

17 octubre 2014

La canción de la semana #444

Lágrimas negras was composed in 1929 by Miguel Matamoros and became a bolero standard. Here, it is interpreted by Mabel Sierra, a native of Dominican Republic now based in Santander.

11 octubre 2014

La canción de la semana #443

...is Rise From The Ashes by the madrileño reggae band Tasty Grooves. Last Saturday I went to see them playing at the Black Bird club in Santander and they were... fenomenal!

27 septiembre 2014

Literatura de baño: 69 relatos para hacer popo

First published 16 September 2014 @ Listen, Learn, Read

This is another book that I discovered thanks to the library of Las Palmas (the other one was Wabi-Sabi). I saw it in the lobby among the new acquisitions. The concept and the title got me intrigued; I leafed through the pages and decided to borrow it... but I needed to visit the loo first. Then I went to check what my kids were doing (sitting downstairs, reading comics). When I got back to the lobby, the book had gone. For the life of me, I couldn’t remember neither the author nor the title. Was it something about the loo?

I found the book in the same place couple of weeks later and, naturally, grabbed it before it disappeared.

Normas de Uso y Disfrute
  1. Lee despacio cada relato. Detente en las comas, sí, detente... como ahora... detente, así... Muy bien...
  2. Cuando acabes de leer cada relato, vuelve a empezar. Te sabrá mejor.
  3. Y, por favor, no olvides limpiarte al terminar...
I like that the author does not take himself or his work too seriously. Still I think the title doesn’t do justice to the book. There’s nothing wrong with taking it to the bathroom, except in my case I would also need a good Spanish dictionary... that’s getting a bit awkward.

The stories sketches pieces anecdotes things may be short but for me it was no easy reading. Even without the rules 1 and 2, I had to read (and then re-read) each of them slowly. Sometimes the text is so short there is no context whatsoever to guess the meaning of a particular word or phrase, and some of the words are not in my dictionary anyway. I reckon some of the cultural references are lost on me too. But I enjoyed it a lot. Romantic, nostalgic, ironic, technical, angry, sad, humorous... The humorous $+@%!£$ things are the best, I wish there were more of them. #61 is a delightful collection of killer insults such as monocoño, culopollo and mierdófono (I got one of those). #69 consists of super-shorts, microrrelatos. #67 is one word. #14 has only a title. Poetry. #37 is my favourite.

— Tomo una copa o dos de vino en el almuerzo, un ron con el café y otro vino por la noche... Además, eso de hacer deporte... Mire, doctora... Estar en una piscina, por ejemplo, yendo de una pared a otra como un imbécil resulta absurdo. No hay creatividad maldita, aunque use el flotador azul y mañana el rosa... O pagar un monitor deportivo para que te haga sufrir físicamente es más absurdo si cabe: pago para sufrir, dicen que es saludable... — nunca han sufrido de verdad, de modo que se costean autodolor, ¡por dios...! — Ya se sufre bastante cada mañana cuando suena el despertador y evidencias que es de noche todavía...

As far as I can see, the book (which saw the light of day thanks to crowdfunding) is not available from Amazon and suchlike. You can buy it directly from the publisher.

26 septiembre 2014

La canción de la semana #441

...is No me Cumbé by the Canarian group Alegransa. Catch them live in the show Cuerdas en el Aire on 17 and 18 October in Teatro Guiniguada, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

    Esther Ovejero: vocals
    Víctor Batista: vocals, guitar
    Carlos Oramas: theorbo, oud
    Domingo "El Colorao" Rodríguez: timple
    Jonathan Rodríguez: percussion
    Carlos Meneses: bass
    Marta Viera: vocals

23 septiembre 2014

Buying textbooks in Spain

First published 11 September 2014 @ Listen, Learn, Read

Unlike the UK or Finland, where the school textbooks are provided free of charge, in Spain one has to buy them; at least, most of them. And they ain’t cheap. For example, for his first year Bachillerato, Yuri needs six (6) books, each priced about €30 in the bookshop, except Historia del Mundo Contemporáneo which costs €42! You can save a few euros shopping at Amazon.es; unfortunately, they don’t offer free shipping for Canaries. Moreover, I found one of the textbooks sold slightly cheaper by a vendor via Amazon.es but there was no option to deliver to Canaries at all.

So I decided to explore the second-hand market. In Fuerteventura, there are no second-hand shops; at least, when we lived there, they did not exist. There are a few in Las Palmas, but I don’t know any specialised bookshops. However I was able to find all the books for Yuri at segundamano.es. (I used the same website a few months ago when I was looking for a house to rent.) I thought the most difficult part for me would be arranging meetings with the sellers: I hate phoning! It turned out to be a fun way of practicing my Spanish. To pick up one of the books, I had to take a bus to hitherto unknown (to me) part of Las Palmas, where I explored streets named Calle Polca and Calle Mazurca.

There is quite a diversity of school textbooks in Spain: you don’t just buy a math textbook for the 3º ESO, you need a specific one. And they tend to require the newer editions every year. Good news that some of Bachillerato books stayed the same for several years. I mean, there was not too much progress with Ancient Greek or Latin recently.

Finding the second-hand books for Timur was a bit more tricky. Luckily, I discovered Relibrea, an excellent web site dedicated to buying/selling of second-hand books. There was nothing available in Gran Canaria but eventually I found the sellers ready to send me the books from Madrid.

Result: of the lot (twelve textbooks altogether), the most expensive book did cost me €16 (plus postage), the cheapest €8; total saving at least €200.

08 septiembre 2014


First published 4 September 2014 @ Listen, Learn, Read

Speaking of coincidences: the other day Tamara  mentioned the concept of wabi-sabi which, in its turn, had appeared in somebody else’s blog. “Do you know what wabi-sabi is?” — “Yes. As it happens, I am in the middle of a book entitled Wabi-Sabi”.

Incidentally, Wabi-Sabi was the first book that I had borrowed from the library of Las Palmas. I did not know anything about its author, Francesc Miralles, nor its topic, but I loved the sub-title: “Una novela sobre la belleza de lo imperfecto y lo efímero”. Also, it was the first novel which I had read in Spanish from beginning to the end without any on-line help. This is, without doubt, thanks to the author’s easy style of writing. (The fact it is short and written in short chapters helped as well.)

The adventures start when Samuel, the university professor of German in his mid-forties, receives a postcard from Japan with a picture of a lucky cat, maneki-neko, and a strange message:

I’m afraid I can’t tell you what happens next. Unlike its prequel, amor en minúscula (Love in Small Letters), Wabi-Sabi is not published yet in English. You better believe me that it’s good. Not perfect though: perfection would be very un-wabi-sabi. (Miralles’s liberal use of imperfect, I’m afraid, will be completely lost in English translation.) It has solitude, love and the end of love, songs in English, Japanese and the language of Atlantis (!), gentle humour and even some sort of happy end — again, as long as its imperfection, transience and incompleteness are accepted.

Here’s my favourite part. Samuel walks in a tiny bar in Kioto. The only other customer, an elderly gentleman contemplating an almost empty bottle of sake, all of a sudden bursts out singing.

La camarera subió el volumen para que el hombre pudiera cantar a placer sobre unos acordes sincopados que recordaban a la música popular rusa. La melodía vocal era muy repetitiva y kitsch, más aún viniendo de aquel ejecutivo que parecía haber huido de una pelea de gatos.

dokonoko no kinoko kono kinoko dokono
dokonoko no kinoko morino kinoko
morino kinoko wa rappa ni natte
onpu kumo made tondetta

puppuru pappa~ purupappa~
puppuru pappa~ purupappa~
sora niwa naisho no hanashi dayo
Algunas notas eran demasiado altas para aquel extraño personaje, que desafinaba sin vergüenza alguna. Con los brazos cruzados sobre un kimono de mangas anchas, la dueña parecía complacida ante aquel show para dos espectadores, contándola a ella.

Horrorizado, tomé conciencia de que sin quererlo había entrado en un karaoke solitario.

Tras un final ridículamente apoteósico a ritmo de polka, el hombre de los cabellos grises volvió a sentarse dignamente en su taburete.

A complete Spanish translation of the song can be found at the author’s Facebook page.

05 septiembre 2014

La canción de la semana #438

If you were out at all this year, you probably heard it and were wondering... ¿Como se llama esa canción de salsa que dice algo como "lalalalá"?

Why, of course it is Vivir Mi Vida by Marc Anthony.

30 agosto 2014

La canción de la semana #437

Pedro Pubill Calaf, better known as Peret, singer, guitarist and composer of Catalan rumba, died in Barcelona on 27 August 2014, aged 79. This week's song is his 1971 hit Borriquito.

23 agosto 2014

La canción de la semana #436

Remu Aaltonen is probably best known as a founding member of the legendary Finnish rock band Hurriganes. This week's song, Asserio, appears on Remu's Latin-influenced album, Andalusian muistelot.

16 agosto 2014

La canción de la semana #435

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to present an amazing instrumental band from Mexico City that I've just discovered today: Sonido Gallo Negro! According to their Facebook page,

Sonido Gallo Negro es un proyecto que retoma el sonido psicodélico de la cumbia peruana de los años 70's, fusionándolo con actitud de garage. Órganos Farfisa, guitarras con Fuzz, y el inseparable güiro son los elementos principales de la cumbia lisérgica de esta agrupación. Subgéneros como la Chicha, la Cumbia Amazónica y el Boogaloo se hacen presentes cuando la banda sube al escenario...
This week's song is Inca-A-delic, from the band's second album, Sendero Místico.

11 julio 2014

La canción de la semana #430

...is El Paran Pan Pan performed by Oscar D'León and Jorge Celedón. Today is maestro's 71st birthday, and next week he will be visiting Canaries! He plays Friday 18 July in Teror, Gran Canaria, and Saturday 19 July in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

19 junio 2014

La canción de la semana #427

A few days ago, I saw on Spanish TV a program featuring the pianist, percussionist and composer Laura de los Ángeles and was completely blown away. Watch her live performance of Vida, recorded back in 2008, and see why.

14 junio 2014

La canción de la semana #426

...is classic Stairway to Heaven performed by Walter Silva, the native of Buenos Aires now based in Spain. He was presenting his new album Seis cuerdas en el alma in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on 11 June 2014. This was the last composition I managed to film before my camera's battery went flat.

31 mayo 2014

10 mayo 2014

La canción de la semana #421

A couple of days ago, I heard a Finnish version of ABBA's Hasta Mañana on Radio Nostalgia. I mean, it was sung in Finnish, except the words "Hasta Mañana". I asked myself, how would you sing this song in Spanish?

40 years ago, ABBA wanted to perform Hasta Mañana on Eurovision Song Contest, "as they thought that it was more in style with previous Eurovision winners". However, they hesitated to present a song where Agnetha Fältskog was a sole vocalist. But why Hasta Mañana? According to Carl Magnus Palm, the author of Bright Lights, Dark Shadows: The Real Story Of ABBA, the title was an accident:

The backing track for this mid-tempo ballad was recorded the day after Waterloo. Listening back to the tape after the session, the track triggered something in Björn and Benny. They realised that Who's Gonna Love You would be just as suitable for the Eurovision Song Contest as the rocking rhythms of Waterloo, perhaps even more so. Stig Anderson, who was headed for a Christmas holiday trip to the Canary Islands, had a cassette tape with the backing track thrust in his hand just as he was about to leave. His task, as usual, was to come up with suitable lyrics. In the Canary Islands, Stig kept hearing the phrase "hasta mañana", meaning "see you tomorrow", on the radio. He quickly put together the lyrics for the new song, and dictated them down a crackly telephone line between Spain and Sweden. Who's Gonna Love You had become Hasta Mañana.
Eventually, ABBA decided on Waterloo, gave Sweden its first Eurovision victory, and became the world's second best-selling band after The Beatles.

In the meantime, success of Hasta Mañana far outlasted that of Waterloo. In 1980, the band released the album of songs in Spanish, Gracias Por La Música, which contained such hits as Chiquitita, Fernando, and, of course, Hasta Mañana. So no surprises here: Hasta Mañana in Spanish is Hasta Mañana.

02 mayo 2014

La canción de la semana #420

...is No me toquéis by Nudozurdo, an indie rock band from Madrid — or, according to Tastebuds, "with all its capital letters, THE BEST INDIE BAND in Spain in the last five years" (mind you that was published one year ago but Nudozurdo are worth checking out nevertheless).

13 abril 2014

La canción de la semana #417

...is Descarga Gaélica by Salsa Celtica. This song opens the band's smashing new album, The Tall Islands (you can listen to all of it in the player below).

04 marzo 2014

La canción de la semana #412

...is La Raíz de Mi Tierra by Raíz, the project of Lila Downs, Niña Pastori and Soledad Pastorutti.

La Raíz de Mi Tierra

Letra y música: Lila Downs, María Rosa García García, Soledad Pastorutti, Julio Jiménez "Chaboli" y Paul Cohen

Busco de dónde vengo
que me perdí!
Busco de dónde vengo
que aquí está mi raíz!

26 febrero 2014

La canción de la semana #411

Francisco Sánchez Gómez, better known as Paco de Lucía, the greatest flamenco guitarist of all time, died this morning aged 66.

Adagio from Concierto de Aranjuez by Joaquín Rodrigo, performed by Paco de Lucía with Orquestra de Cadaqués in 1991.

15 febrero 2014

La canción de la semana #409

...is Mongulu performed by The Garifuna Collective (Belize). This song appears on their 2013 album Ayó. From the liner notes:

In February 2007 Andy Palacio & The Garifuna Collective released Wátina, an album that received unanimous acclaim and elevated the international profile of the music and culture of Central America’s Afro-Amerindian Garifuna community. On the cusp of tremendous fame, Palacio passed away suddenly at the age of 47 not long after Wátina was released, leaving many to wonder who would continue bringing the voice of his people to the world.

With Ayó (“Goodbye” in the Garifuna language) Palacio’s band proves they are up to the task. With a lineup that consists of the best musicians in the fertile Garifuna music scene, The Garifuna Collective promises to carry the torch of cultural innovation and promotion passed on by Andy Palacio far into the future.

08 febrero 2014

La canción de la semana #408

From the liner notes to The Rough Guide to Latin-Arabia:

Born in Marrakech in 1972, Rhany Kabbadj spent his childhood between Morocco and Tunisia, which became his second home. He began to sing at a young age, and made his first performances on Tunisian TV in 1989. In his frequent performances on Moroccan and Tunisian television, he has often been paired with the top performers of Arabic music, including Warda, Cheb Mami and Khaled. Rihany has been greatly inspired by Latin music and has made the mixing of Afro-Caribbean and Arabic music a hallmark of his style. The album Alamtini, from which the classic son Chan Chan is taken, was recorded at the legendary Egrem studio in Cuba.
Chan Chan by Rhany on Grooveshark

01 febrero 2014

La canción de la semana #407

...is Julud by Sahrawi singer Aziza Brahim. This song appears on her new album Soutak (out on 7th February 2014 on Glitterbeat Records).

Aziza Brahim was born in the refugee camps of Algeria, an exile from her homeland in what the Saharawis call Occupied Western Sahara, the region from which they fled when it was invaded by Morocco in 1975. This is a conflict that the outside world seems to have forgotten and so Brahim, like other Saharawi musicians, is using her music to put that right. She no longer lives in the camps, for she managed to leave to study in Cuba and then to settle in Spain, but the struggle of the Saharawi people dominates this album.

18 enero 2014

04 enero 2014

La canción de la semana #403

Welcome to 2014!

Swedish fiddler Ellika Frisell, Senegalese kora player Solo Cissokho and Mexican percussionist Rafael Sida Huizar got together to record NOW! (out on Swedish label Country & Eastern now.) The result is... a "lyrical, groovy and unique music for dancing, listening or both" (cdRoots). On Skänklåt från Bingsjö / Sahadougou / Kelefapolska / Kelefaba (I know, I know, it's four songs, not one), all three sing together.