Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Surfin' Tango

At first glance this might seem off-topic to a post on Buenos Aires but, last Saturday night, my wife and I went to see Los Straitjackets at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. After all, the Straitjackets are a Nashville-based instrumental surf music band whose members all wear Mexican lucha libre wrestling masks on stage. While they sometimes play with guest vocalists, they almost never sing, and only speak to introduce their songs in broken Spanish.

All that said, there is a Buenos Aires connection here – a few years ago, in the basement of the downtown Club Unione e Benevolenza (the Italian Benevolent Union, pictured above), I saw the Straitjackets’ lead guitarist Danny Amis – also known as Daddy O Grande – on the same stage with the local surf bands Los Kahunas and The Tormentos. Yes, you read right – however improbable it might seem, there is a surf music scene in the birthplace of the tango. For the finale performance of “Pipeline,” not another musician could have fit on stage.

What’s more, surf music and tango are not incompatible, at least to judge from the work of Daddy O Grande and The Tormentos. In 2009, they performed “La Cumparsita” – possibly the most famous of all tangos, composed by the Uruguayan Gerardo Matos Rodríguez – on stage in Buenos Aires. The venue appears to be Palermo’s Niceto Club.

Unfortunately, Daddy O Grande did not appear with the Straitjackets last Saturday, as he is under treatment for multiple myeloma. The group’s tour continues in the Pacific Northwest and tonight, August 24, there will be a benefit concert for him in Boston. At none of these events, unfortunately, are you likely to hear “La Cumparsita.” Those of you in Buenos Aires may well hear it at Festival y Mundial de Tango, the tango festival and dance championship that continues through August 30 - but without that distinctive surf guitar.

Moon Handbooks Buenos Aires in Belmont (San Mateo County)
Next Tuesday, August 30, will mark the third of several digital slide presentations on the fourth edition of Moon Handbooks Buenos Aires, at various branches of the San Mateo County Library. The Tuesday event starts at 7 p.m. at the Belmont Library (1110 Alameda de las Pulgas, Belmont CA 94002, tel. 650/591-8286). There will be ample time for questions and answers, and books (also including Moon Argentina and Moon Chile) will be on sale (at a discount).

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1 comment:

chuck goolsbee said...

I love Los Straitjackets (and surf rock in general)! Thanks for the tips on the other bands, as it is always fun to discover new ones.

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