Argentinean Rock

Tonight we decided to have an authentic Argentine rock fest. A few of the guys and I went to the store and bought some serious rock food. There is no rock party without soda, cheese puffs, and pizza, so we got tons of it. Since rock is one of my favorite genres of music, I knew tonight was going to be a blast!

I scoped out the stage and the sound system this morning at breakfast. Our hotel used to be a dinner theater, so they kept the stage as a tribute to the hotel’s history. I knew this would make the best stage for a night of rock. It also happened to have all the musical instrument back stage. We were so lucky to find the equipment, but it was dusty as all heck. I’ve never been opposed to a little spring cleaning, so it took me no time to dust it off and get it ready for our rock fest.

Rock in Argentina started out as voice for the youth of the 1960s who opposed the wars and tyranny of the times. It was music with a message. With this in mind, I wrote a song dedicated to the times. Of course I was too chicken to sing it myself, so I gave the lead vocals to our Argentinean buddy, Mario. He’s a huge fan of Soda Stereo and Divididos, who are uber famous rock band in Argentina, and the song was similar to their styles. I also had to remember that one of the most important parts of Argentinean rock is the Spanish lyrics. That’s what differentiated the rock stars from Argentina and the other popular artists from the United States and the UK. I had Mario check the lyrics for correctness, but he said that rock didn’t have to make sense, it had to move people. So he left all my lyrics alone.

With every rock band, there has to be a rocker look, so Mario brought us a Pelo Magazine from 1972 for inspiration. We found a band called Pappo’s Blues, which is a rock trio from the 1970s. They were influential in the blues/metal movement in Argentina. There’s this picture of them in V-neck, striped shirts, scarves, and wild messy hair. That was the look we wanted, so we dressed the part.

arco_iris_disco_llego_el_cambio_1972

Then the time came to hit the big stage. We laid all the instruments out, we had all the microphones ready, we’d channeled our inner Argentine rocker spirits, and the spotlight was on us. We were ready to be a success! The only problem was . . . none of us knew how to play a single instrument! I was thinking they could play and they were thinking I could play. We were absolutely hopeless at that point. All I could think to do was play chopsticks on the piano while Mario sang. We got booed off the stage and someone threw cheese puffs at us.

I couldn’t be mad at them for giving us the old “Apollo Theater Exit.” We stunk up the joint! But, I will say we couldn’t have been the only rock band in Argentina to get booed off of a stage. Rock in Argentina was underground for a long time when it first started. Bands played in old pizza joints and clubs. So I don’t think we were bad, we were just misunderstood. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Activities:

  1. What is your favorite musical band? Why?
  2. Read about the history of Soda Stereo, one of Argentina’s top bands. https://latinmusic.about.com/od/soda_stereo/a/Soda-Stereo.htm When was the band created? What are the names of the band members?
  3. Listen to Soda Stereo’s hit Música Ligera https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGDb_uFEuiM and follow the lyrics. How is it similar and different from American bands?
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El cementerio de La Recoleta

Most people find cemeteries morbid and depressing, but I find them extremely fascinating. As long as no one I know is buried there and the cemetery isn’t anywhere near where I live, I’m usually not freaked out. So when we pulled up to the Recoleta Cemetery as a part of the Buenos Aires tour, I wasn’t bothered one bit.

I looked up at the words on the gate as we were pulling up and it didn’t say El cementerio de La Recoleta, it said “Requiescant in Pace.” Requiescant in Pace? I used a search engine on my phone to look it up and results said the phrase is what appears on headstones as RIP. I thought it was Rest in Peace, but that’s the translation from the end of the Roman Catholic prayer at a burial service. That was an interesting little fact, so I knew the cemetery must have lots more to offer.

recoleta-cementery-buenos-aires-argentina

This place was like a little city in the middle of a BIG city! I knew this was the final resting place for Eva Perón, but there were also lots of other famous people buried here. There were ex-presidents, high-ranking military and political officials, celebrities, just all kinds of people. The most interesting part was that there were a lot of headstones that dated back to the 1700s. People have been buried here for almost four centuries. I wonder if there’s anything left in the caskets besides dust.

As we continued walking, the headstones became more elaborate. The most memorable was the Tomb of Liliana Crociati. Hers has a life-sized statue of Liliana petting her dog. She was really loved and missed by her family! But trust me, Liliana’s wasn’t the only over-the-top spot. Some memorials were made of marble or bronze, some were as tall as buildings, and some were like houses. I believe the house-style sites were for entire families.

sculpted-angel-at-la-recoleta-cemenetery

Of course the tour guides want to tell you about the ghost stories as they take you around the cemetery. They said the night watchman built his own tomb here at the cemetery, and then when it was complete, he killed himself in the tomb. To this day he can be seen at night, guarding the cemetery. Some stories included people being buried alive. Others included people going in and never coming out. The sillier ones included tourists. You know, stories to scare us before we went home. I didn’t buy into any of that though. I knew they were just stories. I was, however, thoroughly entertained. Now I have some more stories to tell around the campfire!

recoleta-cementery-Mausoleums

Activities:

  1. Who was Eva Perón?
  2. ¡A investigar! Visit the website https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tumba_de_Liliana_Crociati_de_Szaszak to see Liliana’s Crociati’s tomb. Try to find her dog’s name in the text.
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Candombe

I hear the beat when I first hear a song. The beat of the drum will determine if the song is good or not. Have you ever heard a great song with a lousy beat? Nope! No matter how hot the lyrics are, you’ll never hear a hit song without a good beat. My theory was proved right again when I heard Candombe music and saw the Candombe dances.

It was important to me to hear the music while I was here because, although it has spread worldwide, Candombe is very unique to the Río de la Plata region, specifically Uruguay and Argentina. These two places were active participants in the slave trade, which created entire communities of African descendants left behind after the slaves were freed. Bored with the traditional European dances, the people here created their own genre of music and dance. First the Afro-Argentineans used hip motions to go along with the beat of the drums. Then the Afro-Uruguayans added a shoulder motion. Today, all the people who dance to the Candombe beat move both their shoulders and their hips.

candombe-at-montevideo-uruguay

This musical style has gotten so big that there’s even a website you can visit to learn more. But if you’d rather learn about it in person, just wait until nightfall in Montevideo. On any given night, (it’s never planned) people have these Candombe parties in the street. It’s like a night parade during Mardi Gras. All it takes is one drum, and the people know what time it is. Party time!!!!!!

I sat on my balcony every night in hopes of catching a Candombe party, but it didn’t happen on my block. I tried playing the music on my radio loud so people would think it was time to come out, but that didn’t work. I don’t know who wrangles up the gang or how the party normally gets started, but I really wanted it to happen. Oh well. I guess I’ll have better luck next time. I hear the best time to come is during Carnaval in Montevideo.

Another thing I love is how Candombe is depicted in different works of art. Sometimes you’ll see a Candombe band playing as artwork on a wall in a restaurant, or you’ll see a mural on the side of the building. My favorite is the man playing the drum painted on the side of a drum. Sweet! When is Carnaval again? I can’t wait to come back!

Activities:

  1. What is candombe and where does it come from?
  2. Who invented candombe?
  3. Would you like to attend the Carnaval in Montevideo and hear candombe music live? Why?
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