Mateo's Blog

About Mandragora Tango….

The "mandragora" is the mandrake root, which grows in Argentina. The group is a quartet (bandoneon/accordian, violin, bass and guitar)that adores the music of Astor Piazzolla (of course!)but we are committed to being a dance band, as well. So we do the entire spectrum of Troilo, Gardel, Plaza---70 or more years of great tangos and milongas. I joined the group in 2004 when we were hired by Theatre De La Jeune Lune for their highly acclaimed production of Piazzolla's Maria de Buenos Aires. This week we are playing in Madison, Wisconsin on Friday, September 21st at Restaurant Magnus.  On Saturday the 22nd we are at the American Tango Institute in Chicago, Illinois.  Our mini-tour concludes with a private engagement in Milwaukee on Sunday, the 23rd.  More info on the calendar page or take a look at Mandragora's site. It is loaded with music and info and  fun stuff. It is such a treat for me to play with musicians of their caliber and sensitivity.  And tango is amazing music--full of pathos and delicious self-pity as well as gorgeous over-the-top excess.  What is there not to love?

Y acerca de tango….

Those who sing at the top of their voice will remain apprentices. Because tango is not sung, tango is said, with the pause and the silence alluded by the poets, slowly, little by little, for the words to be understood. Cacho Castaña


I am very excited about the launch of my new web site. This blogging feature is something new to me but intriguing. I will be sharing my ideas about flamenco and tango---shows I have seen, recordings I love, projects I am involved in and probably some 3 o'clock AM rants, as well. I do have to mention that I am totally enamored of There is such a wealth of great performance videos on that site. To be able to observe Vicente Amigo up close---it is an unbelievable resource. Videos of Paco de Lucia, of Chicuelo---great dance performances of Israel Galvan, Sara Baras, Yerbabuena, Grilo---the cante of Duquende, Aurora Vargas, Niña Pastori---on and on and on. Fantastic footage of Camaron and Tomatito--there seems to be no end. Then there are the tango videos of Astor Piazzolla and Carlos Gardel. There are great musical performances and great dancing, as well. Check out the seven videos we have up: Mandragora Tango. Apart from my weird posture (I had trouble seeing the musical score...) I am very proud of those. I have spent a great deal of time in Spain studying guitar and this tends to make one a technical stickler---always obsessed with improving your picado or alza pua---faster! cleaner! smoother! bigger sound! Well, youtube has so many inspiring performances and such great instructional stuff it is simply invaluable. Lastly, I remember juergas and festivals I lucked into seeing when I first started learning flamenco in Spain. I owe so much to David Serva and Paul Shalmy for taking me with them to see Anzonini and the Gastors, Fernanda and Bernarda, Paco de Valdepeñas. Through youtube I can revisit some of those precious times that seem to be gone forever. Now that I know a little more and understand a little better I have a deeper appreciation for all that--how overwhelming it often seemed!