Friday, March 19, 2010

There simply aren't words

This is when a picture is definitely worth a thousand words. I only wish I had grabbed my camera as I left the hotel room tonight. Alfredo and I decided to meet at the HAITI cafe in Miraflores at 9:00 and grab a bite to eat. I wanted to get back to the artisan fair before I head to Cusco, and HAITI is only a block away, so I went an hour early and did a little shopping. I almost bought a charango and zampona, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I'll research them a little more in the next couple of days and maybe pick one up in Cusco or send Alfredo back to get the one I looked at in Miraflores. But that's all beside the point.
We caught a bus down to what Alfredo called the Bohemian Area. When he was younger, all the people who frequented the area were drunks. Now evvery door leads into a club, a bar, a pub, or combination of all three and some other things. We wandered into a couple of the pubs looking for some of Alfredo's old friends. After ten years, there were still a couple of guys who recognized him. One of these friends told us about a concert they were having in the same pub tonight. I only caught part of what he was saying because music was blaring all around us, but Alfredo got pretty excited about it, so he grabbed a drink and we went to the next door to sit down for the concert. Time: 10:15 pm. Concert start time: 11:00 pm.
We went upstairs and sat down. Alfredo asked for a plate of anticucho (beef heart shishkebob) and then asked when they expected the music to start. The waiter said, “about midnight...” Current time: 10:30. At this point I am beginning to think I am getting too old for this kind of fun. By 11:05, the house was full, but no music. At 11:15 people began whistling to signal their desire to get the concert underway. At 11:30, someone walked out onstage and introduced a young man who entertained us with some acoustic blues guitar. He sang in English, but his pronunciation was poor enough to lead me to question if he actually memorized the words he was singing or just the sounds the words make. (It makes a difference, believe it or not.) Alfredo looked over at me and admitted he didn't like the music. At this point, I was beginning to feel a lot more tired and not really excited about hanging around for who knows how many more hours for a concert that I knew nothing about. Actually, I had this much to go on: this group is a fusion of blues and Andean music.

What image is that supposed to evoke?

So, by 12:05 the concert actually began and Oh. My. Stars. Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw next. Try and imagine this. Aerosmith, Steven Tyler dressed in semi-traditional Inca costume. Next to him, a 4'0” man dressed in shiny white traditional Inca costume. Onstage, a full drum set, two guitarists, a bassist, and the front man, Peru's Steven Tyler waving a Peruvian flag. Next to come on stage, a 50-something and a 20-something man in traditional Andean cholo garb carrying horns that play pretty much like bugles. Throw in a 60-something cholo violinist and a guy with a quena and zampona, and you've pretty much got the picture.
What does it sound like, though? How do you fuse Grunge, Rock, Blues, and Andean Music? There aren't enough words. Actually, there are, they are just all Quechua. The only word that truly describes it is: UCHPA.
The front man spent most of the night playing air guitar while the real guitarists rocked out.

Yeah, I just don't have the words.

On a side note, throughout the evening I vacillated between thinking I was way too old for this kind of thing, and enjoying myself tremendously. Alfredo joked that my students might find me "cool" if I were to take them to this kind of concert on a study abroad experience. Any opinions?

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