Day 4 of Carnaval and I could really use some more island time. Have you ever visited the island off the coast of Venezuela called Margarita? I only know it through photos of beautiful beaches and this gaita caranaval record by Los Topotopos, which is really all I need to convince me to visit one day.
There’s lots of roads that lead one to purchasing a dusty old record from a bin of hundreds of others. For this LP by Los Cuñaos, I saw the cover of this viejo wearing shades playing a violin and I knew I had to take it home (Miami ✈ Oakland). Upon first listening I realized I purchased some contemporary Venezuelan folk music and was feeling like I came up short—until I reached the last song on side B—an absolute killer Joropo tune. Nothing sweeter than when the last track saves your record purchase.
Including the inside gatefold here as there’s always a decent chance someone responds with “Hey that’s my tio in my mom’s old apartment!”
For many July 5 is simply thought of as the day after the “4th of July”, (independence day of United States), but in Latin America 5 de Julio marks the anniversary of the first Spanish colony to declare independence. That country of course is Venezuela, home of that rebel rouser Simon Bolivar. Putting aside the debate of actual “independence” and freedom from colonization, this anniversary is historic and provides a good excuse to share some great música folklórica venezolana — specifically Gaita.
This record Los Sidoristas Cantan Gaitas by Grupo de Gaitas de Sidor is a wonderful example of gaita music. SIDOR is the largest steel corporation in Venezuela. And it looks like Sidor had their own label featuring the music of their own employees. (If anyone has more info on records produced by Sidor I’d love to hear it.) Here are two beautiful tracks from this album: Tamborera de Guayana
What I really love though is the heavy percussion in these songs! Venezuelan gaita features the furruco, a unique friction drum that adds extra bass by making a deep pig-like snort sound. Checkout this video of un viejo giving a lesson in how to play.
Hopefully you all aware of our upcoming Pelanga en La Peña this Saturday, May 7th. Pelangas have blessed us in many ways, one of which is the joy we get from seeing so many of you dance and lose yourself in the music. But one thing we haven’t been able to ignore is seeing so many beautiful women dancing solo. Now it needs to be said that we really love that Pelangas have a culture of everyone being very respectful — especially toward women who very much appreciate not feeling hounded and harassed by men. But men, that’s no reason to be wall flowers. We understand that dancing can be intimidating, especially with someone you may not know. But don’t worry su pelangueros are here to help, or rather Oscar De Leon (Venezuela’s most famous salsero). Here he is performing his merengue hit Juanita Morel backed by Conjunto Quisqueya. Now take note, he’s just dipping and rolling with a simple spin. Watch, repeat and practice in front of a mirror. Men, you can do this and have a line of dance partners waiting on you all night. Gold medallion is optional.
I’m posting this great tune for 2 reasons. 1, we’ve yet to represent any música venezolana, and 2 this song is just so incredibly cheery. I’ve heard numerous versions of it, (perhaps originally done by Tito Rodriguez?) but I really like this version. Anyone that knows me musically knows I love rough and raw out of tune drunken style music, but sometimes I need a tight orquesta that can play me a song to perfection. Super Combo Los Tropicales, who have been around for 40+ years, are about as flawless as it comes. Enjoy.
Mosaico De Panama by Super Combo Los Tropicales
Mosaico De Panama
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