Madrid Spring 2022 Update!

First, may I say I love living in Madrid, and in Spain generally. Europe is such a civilized place to live, and, as a liberal/democratic/socialist, I feel so at home. The opportunity to speak Spanish on a daily basis is something I enjoy very much. And: the flamenco. That’s the real reason I spend so much time here.

So, I’m in the middle of 6 weeks in Spain. I’ve become involved in 3 separate musical projects and it is tremendously fun. I don’t like sitting idle, musically speaking anyway. Madrid is very hilly and is a great walking city. Temps have been in the 50s and occassionally the 60s so I’ve been walking a lot. Masks are worn by most everyone; the level of compliance seems to be higher than in the US. Covid is definitely winding down. Spain took the pandemic very seriously, people were quarantined in their homes for months (they call it “el confinamiento”) and they are thrilled to be returning to their own “new-normal.” Restaurants, bars and clubs are packed, even though people sit outside whenever possible.

There is tremendous support for the Ukraine here and throughout Europe. I think people are generally optimistic, but that’s hard to judge. I don’t think Putin counted on Europe being so unified in their condemnation of his aggression. The media coverage is constant, is graphic, and is shocking.

I’ve been to 8 shows so far, nothing earth-shattering but certainly of high quality. Last night I heard the Jerezano singer Vicente Soto accompanied by Manuel Valencia. Powerful though the guitar was a little “meh.” I found the concert by guitarist Juan Carlos Romero disappointing (mainly for his lack of melodic themes) although El Torombo as his percussionist was compelling. I’ve heard Antonio Andrade twice fronting a “cuadro flamenco” show—he’s polished and professional, also cheesy (“hortera”) and cloying. It sounds like I’m being ultra-critical of the guitarists—I am, I guess. I got to hear Jeronimo Maya up close and personal and it was gorgeous. And, a Jazz Manouche group I heard (Menil) was exciting as can be.

That’s all for now. The “menu of the day” beckons. “Menu del dia” is always a highlight!