Tejedor brings Spanish Celtic music to Kuwait!
Published on January 26th, 2013 | by Nabeel
While many of us may identify the signature sound of Spain to be the flourish of a guitar strumming the Flamenco, bands in Asturias have been putting forward a Spanish sound that may sound new to most, but is in fact quite ancient. The Celts called Asturias home before the Romans, Germanic tribes or the Moors came to Spain. In this region, Celtic influence survived, thrived and thankfully, so did their music. Enter Tejedor.
When the brothers Tejedor and their ensemble perform, you might be forgiven for thinking you had stepped into the wrong concert hall. The danceable, upbeat music and distinctive rhythmic devices may sound closer to the music of the Emerald Isle than to our idea of Spain. And yet there you have it. There’s a big world out there and we don’t know the half of it. Tejedor are as good as ambassadors for Asturian music and both Van Morrison and Sinead ‘O Connor asked specifically for them to be the opening acts for their shows. It don’t get much cooler than that!
I score myself a great seat before the lights go down and the first song ‘Sabicheira’ is played. It’s fast-paced and works its way through a Celtic sound that seems familiar and yet is distinctive. Before the show, I had asked Jose Tejedor how audiences in places like Ireland and Wales react to Celtic music from Asturias. Would they get confused or find it overly-familiar? ‘I think they find it refreshing – like fresh air’, he said with a smile and I can certainly see what he means. There’s enough in here to mark it as its own distinct tradition.
Una muyer is a song about love, Jose tells us. A very gentle and lovely piece, it provides ample opportunity for the beautiful Silvia Quesada to let her voice really shine. The entire song is carried by her stirring vocals and in spite of the fact that it is melodically very simple, it is quite moving even to those of us who can’t understand a word of what’s going on. Hopefully the girl gets the guy in the end?!
Munieres pa Godon Duncan is a fantastic, upbeat piece that switches back and forth between major and minor tonalities – conveying so many different moods. Truly epic – not just a crowd pleasure but music for musicians!
Iyana is another very beautiful and (initially) very simple melody written I believe for Javier Tejedor’s daughter. This time, the haunting almost electric sound of the bagpipes carries the first section of the tune and it’s heart-rending. I had to stop and take a breather and try to resist the urge to convince my missus that we needed to make a daughter straight away so I could love her. Ok TMI maybe! When I got home and popped in the CD, I listened to this song twice all the way through, it was that haunting!
And then … those darn Celts, not satisfied with stirring our hearts, launch into another upbeat, danceable and playful tune in this same song – complete with fantastic accordion solos from Javier.
Kudos to Ruben who sometimes has to manage some quite interesting rhythms, working around what the others are playing. That can’t be easy. And speaking of rhythms…
Pasucais de Cuana is a very rhythmically exciting piece due to its alternating between unconventionally accented percussion work and a really driven section. I really didn’t understand how Juan managed to use his bare hands to hit everything from cymbals to the Cajon. The guy is a beast! I caught up with him afterwards and he showed me the calluses. ‘I don’t feel it’ he said, proud of his war wounds – and rightly so.
It was at about this moment that I understood at least one part of what makes this Celtic music so uniquely Spanish. Yes definitely, Jose’s expert performances on the one-droned Gaites (bagpipes) made the music quite different from its Irish or Scottish counterparts. But also - when Silvia sings, she brings that famed Spanish attitude into every word. Chin up, fire in her eyes and a unique voice that delivers passion and feeling over a commercially ‘perfect’ tone. Every lyric is delivered with such uncompromising personality. I might be playing to stereotypes here but my God it’s a great stereotype! And I think all the Spanish folk in the hall agreed with me – there was a lot of passion coming from the audience as well!
The show was over before I knew it but only after an encore and Jose going through the craziest bagpipe solo I have ever heard in my life. Perspiring from all he’s put into the evening, I ask him one last question. What’s in the future for Tejedor? Playing in a few other countries – like Switzerland or Ireland maybe, he says. Then he smiles. Oh and lots of Cerveza… Just not here!
A warm Thank You to Gabriel Alou Forner of the Embassy of Spain for allowing us pre-show interview access to the band. And of course, Thank You Tejedor and all the best to you!
Footage of the performance
Footage from the interview