Monthly Archives: January 2013

One dollar discoveries: Amparo Montes, awesome marimba group and lots of calypso

My musical pack rat tendencies have paid off once again. I was in the local pharmacy picking up some medicine and noticed a bin full of CDs on sale for a dollar each. Most were Latin music, which is not a deterrent for me. Especially for a dollar. What did I have to lose? Spent $5, got five CDs and three of those turned out to be awesome. The other two weren’t terrible, just not my style – one was merengue, which is way too fast and makes me nervous; the other was salsa, which I like more, but which was too slick and New York-sounding for my taste. I’m more of a Bueno Vista Social Club guy…

So, pay dirt… I discovered a great artist, a really good Latin band (that I can find very little about unfortunately) and was reminded once again how much I love Calypso.

Amparo Montes – Tesoros Mexicanos

amparo montes

I’m surprised I never heard this woman before. She is apparently one of the greats of Latin music. Hearing this album reminds me of when I discovered Edith Piaf. And in fact, her voice is a bit similar – she has a nice vibrato.

This song does a good job of showing off her gorgeous pipes:

Marimba Cuquita de los Hermanos Narvaez – Peerless 70 Anos Una Historia Musical 1933-2003

marimba cuquita

Excellent music from an ensemble I can find very little about. Nothing, in fact. I can’t even figure out where in Latin America this band was from, although I’m pretty sure it was Mexico. Lots of their music to be found, just not much information. Might help if I knew more Spanish… Anyway, the music is really fun. Not the traditional Latin marimba music I’ve heard before, this is early rock, jazz and swing.

Here’s one I liked quite a bit:

Kings of Calypso

kings of calypso

This is a collection of 28 songs from some great Calypsonians. Good songs, a lot of them very funny and risque. The standouts for me are the ones from Lord Invader and The Mighty Terror. The songs are full of social commentary and humor. I especially loved Lord Invader’s “Reincarnation (The Bed Bug)” where he says he wants to be reincarnated as a bed bug – and only bite the young ladies; and Mighty Terror’s “Patricia Gone with Milicent” – not sure when it came out, but I imagine a song about lesbians must have been a shocker at the time.


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Filed under thrift store finds, world music

2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 13,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 3 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

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Flamenco Symphony – more than just dinner music

flamenco symphony

Flamenco Symphony don’t play the kind of music I expected to hear in a Mexican restaurant, but I’m so glad I did. Flamenco guitarist David Massey and classically-trained violinist Christopher Kranyak were performing at Morelia restaurant on Tuesday, Jan. 1 as I ate and visited with family. They weren’t overpowering, but I couldn’t help notice the skill and beauty of their music. They got a steady round of applause in the restaurant, even from people seated far away from them.

I was surprised at some of the covers they pulled off in their flamenco style. The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun,” Dick Dale’s “Miserlou”(made famous in Pulp Fiction) and Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues,” to name a few (They’ve also written some original songs – that always earns my respect).

They left before I could tip them, so I figure the least i can do is give them a mention on this blog. So many times you hear groups like this and they fade into the background, or they’re just a mild annoyance as you try to carry on conversations. Not so Flamenco Symphony. Their music was beautiful, novel and memorable.

Lots of music and several videos on their website, as well as a schedule. They play regularly around Austin. Check them out if you can.

This is one of their original compositions, The Lost Tango:

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January 3, 2013 · 9:11 am