Friday, December 26, 2008

El Gato en la Ventana

In Chile we find music in the streets, on the buses and in the air we breathe. This first group is Pachamama de Valparaiso playing Mi Amigo Negro Jose in the Plaza Victoria, Valparaiso.

A group in the Ahumada in Santiago, a broad tiled avenue filled with life, playing Mira Ninita.

Iicarayen on a corner of Calle Bellavista, Valparaiso.

More music the day before Christmas. People know this music. They talk of their diversity and they have had periods of immigration from various parts of the world. Spain, of course, but Germany, Italy, China, the middle east, but they all know the songs of Chile. And in spite of the country's faults, they love the land. 3000 miles of coastline and mountains with coastal ranges. It's easy to do. Imagine California without the valley from Bakersfield to Redding. And forget about L.A. Sure, there would still be the politicians skulking around somewhere, they have their Santiago. Hot in the summer and smoggy in the winter. A fitting penitentiary considering the crappy job they do.

Casual music.

More formal offerings.

Music playing from the grocery store while a truck unloads for the carniceria across the street. Chile Lindo by Los Huasos Quincheros.

And just the music of people living.

Mercado El Cardonal, Valparaiso.

And of course, El Gato. Subida Calle Cumming a block or two above Plaza Anibal Pinto. Cobblestone streets slippery in the foggy winters, sounds and smells of a working port city.

First, Rodrigo, a solo performer who says he´s not political but he plays Silvio Rodriquez songs with a lot of feeling. El Gato, where, for ex-smokers the atmosphere is all you could hope for. To sin without actually lighting up yourself. Air to chew. Surrounded by comunistas e artesanos peddling their wares. In between sets performers drop in to play short sets, friends of the owners and patrons, passing the hat, visiting and then on to the next club.

And Los Trovadores del Rimac en La Plaza Prat, Iquique.

A school group playing in the plaza at Ancud on Isla Chiloe in a summer program of music.

A couple performing cuecas for spare change in front of the bus terminal in Castro on Chiloe.

Shopping at the mercado pulga.

A solo vocalist at the fish market in Valdivia,

while the chorus waits.