Mexico City

Friday night, right after the show ended and we packed up we were taken to the airport to fly to Mexico City. This time overweight and oversize charges came to $800. The plane left at twenty minutes to one on Saturday morning and we arrived in Mexico City at 6AM, which was 4AM Tijuana time.

I have heard that many airlines pay bonuses to pilots who use less fuel and was wondering whether that was the reason that the plane was so cold. I was shivering under two blankets and the battery of my digital camera discharged completely during the four hour flight.

Some of us were able to catch a couple of hours of sleep, but we must have looked like zombies when we arrived at the hotel. I was happy to notice that we were staying at the Camino Real Hotel, which is beautiful. It was designed by Ricardo Legorreta, who has had a very successful career designing houses in the style of Luis Barragan, who defined Mexican architecture in the last century. The hotel is very beautiful and you can find photos on Flickr.

I had been told that both the Auditorio Nacional and the Metropolitan Theater were booked all week and thus not available, and that the local promoter thought the Salon 21 was a good alternative. But I had reservations about the venue even before we left Santa Fe, and my suspicions came true when we arrived at Salon 21 for soundcheck. The P.A. was Mickey Mouse – see above photo – all treble and bass without any midrange – in other words without body, harsh and ugly. The venue might have been OK for our XL band, but in this converted warehouse any subtlety would get lost. The bass swirled around the hall and the echo seemed even louder than the original sound. While it was difficult to hear my guitar, Jon undoubtedly had the hardest job because the bass sounded horrible.

However, the show appeared sold-out as well and the audience was fantastic.

Hispano-American Guitar Festival

Thursday we flew from Albuquerque to San Diego. Overweight and oversize charges came to $50. We arrived in San Diego and met with representatives of the Hispano-American Guitar Festival who had brought vans to transport our gear to Tijuana. We checked into the hotel around 4PM. On Friday we saw the Cultural Center, which is beautiful, and had soundcheck, followed by lunch at the Euro Cafe, which was arranged by the promoter. We were told that our show had sold out in just four days.

While Jon and I had dinner at the hotel, the Cuban guitarist Ahmed Dickinson, who had performed in Tecate on Thursday, arrived at a table near us and pulled out a guitar to play several pieces for the folks at his table. We had a most enjoyable dinner listening to fabulous guitar playing. I feel that latin composers have breathed so much new life into the guitar during the last century. Just as Gabriel Garcia Marquez and others created the new latin novel, composers like Heitor Villa-Lobos, Astor Piazzola, Leo Brower and many others created a new and modern, yet unapologetically romantic style of guitar composition. I feel that these latin american composers have created the best music for guitar.

I was really looking forward to performing that night as the soundcheck showed me that the hall sounded beautiful and the equipment was adequate. But we had not played together in about a month and since I wanted to present an especially good performance I let myself get nervous right before the show and it took a while to let the adrenaline subside. I had that feeling of adrenaline in my system. It makes the fingers more unsure and inhibits the flow… But, as the adrenaline subsided I enjoyed the music more and more and the enthusiasm of the audience carried us.

A fabulous festival… I only wish I could have gone to Tijuana earlier to catch the guitarists Dusan Bogdanovic from Yugoslavia and American Eliot Fisk, who played a few days before we arrived. I highly recommend this festival for fans of the guitar.

Off to Mexico

Have I mentioned that I strongly dislike packing? I’ll be back with photos Monday evening or, more likely sometime on Tuesday. Hasta!

Oh, one more thing. Before you say that the Tango commuter car is too small to be safe, read this! I can’t believe how many people actually feel safer in those giant trucks. That feeling is based on some sort of strange projection. Bigger is safer? Heavier is safer? The Oak is stronger than the Bamboo? Ah, you are so wrong there. Bamboo trumps Oak. If you are going for a walk, do you wear steel-toe boots, just in case somebody drops a briefcase on your foot, or do you wear light, comfortable shoes? From my years as a bike messenger I know that small and agile mobility trumps large and slow and heavy anytime. You can’t catch me. I’ll run rings around you.

Anyway. Over and out ’till next week.

Commuter Cars

The red Tango prototype was just air reighted to England where Prodrive is helping develop the new Tango T600 for Production.
The Tango will be featured in the December issue of Wired magazine.

Prodrive are the people who created the race version of the Ferrari 550 GTS Maranello as well as the Subaru Impreza which won the World Rally Championship last year. How cool is that!