Howdy, friends. Your intrepid music correspondent is back again, fired up about bringing you a couple of weeks worth of ear and eyewitness reports from the 27th annual Savannah Music Festival. We had so much fun doing this last year, we decided a reprise of the adventure was in order.
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Arriving at my charming Staybridge Suite-away-from-home around 8 p.m., I had just enough time to change shirts and hustle over to the Trustees Theater a few blocks away where I managed to catch the last hour of flamenco guitarist Vicente Amigo and his quintet.
Holy solea-thrumming superstar! Every flamenco guitarist from now into perpetuity is destined to be compared with the late great Paco de Lucía, who passed away in 2014. As a toddler growing up in Guadalcanal (a suburb of Seville), Amigo was inspired by a TV broadcast of Lucía (the two men eventually became close friends). Last night, Amigo’s performance proved him a worthy bearer of his compatriot’s legacy. Like Lucía, Amigo draws upon an innate improvisational acumen and endless capacity for melodic inventiveness. His tone is brighter and tangier than was Lucia’s and his attack is more sharply articulated and punchier while he handles flamenco’s almost perversely complex compás with similarly fearless virtuosity.
Whether playing pure flamenco or jazzy Americanized variations on the theme (examples of which were abundant during last night’s set), everything swung with soulful grace even when all pre-planned, hand clapping, finger snapping hell was breaking loose. Amigo’s four accompanist’s were in superb form, especially Paquito González, who is one of the finest flamenco percussionists ever to slap a cajon, and vocalist Rafael de Utrera, whose rich cante is rife with passionately expressive colorations.
Amigo assuredly got my 2016 SMF journey off to a sizzling start. One concert down, another few dozen to go. Ole, y’all!
About the Savannah Music Festival
Now through April 9, the historic district of downtown Savannah plays host to more than 100 performances during the annual Savannah Music Festival (SMF), which celebrates exceptional artistry in jazz, classical and a variety of American and international music traditions. A full schedule and tickets are available at savannahmusicfestival.org. Tickets can also be purchased by phone at 912-525-5050 or at 216 E. Broughton Street in Savannah.
To learn more about music festivals, attractions and landmarks throughout Georgia, visit ExploreGeorgia.org/Music.