I love house concerts. But two weeks ago I had to leave a house concert in Ajijic during a tropical rainstorm with no umbrella, so my enthusiasm was…dampened. After all, it is the rainy season here. But I decided to go to one this week, despite some clouds because I just love house concerts. Not only are they intimate and friendly and in nice homes, but they introduce me to new artists. I learned this quickly when I was on the Board of the Acoustic Vortex house concert series in Marin County in the early 2000’s – 35 to 80 people in my friend’s large living-dining room every two weeks for a constant flow of bands old and new. So there I was last week at a concert at the home of Mexican Singer Yanin Saavedra and bassist Gilberto Rio with an eye on the weather.
The main band was Trialogo, an experimental jazz band that Rios plays in. I knew the band well, having seen them both in Ajijic and Guadalajara and having photographed the saxophone player Eleazar Soto at a major concert with American-European sax star Gerry Lopez. But, what really intrigued me was the note at the bottom of the invite – Esta misma noche tendremos de invitado especial a Inamik Ganona abriendo el conciertocon su hermosa musicá… A special guest who I had never heard of but who brought beautiful music? Yes! This is why I love house concerts.
Yanin’s house is fronted by a huge lawn and swimming pool and much of the socializing takes place outside. The inside – a spacious living room /dining room/recording studio – was set up with a backline, PA, mics and a multi-camera videographer with a full lighting set up. I thought I was arriving early, especially by Mexican standards, but the opening act was being introduced as I walked in 15 min before stage time. Fortunately, there were still seats to put my equipment on and a location for my camera with a wide view of the stage that did not block anyone behind me.
Directly in front of me, adjusting the microphone to his height, was a young, skinny man with a white shirt and black hat, big smile, and a blue guitar. After a bit of fumbling with the mic he played a downbeat and took off with lyrics that struck home emotionally, notes that soared, and a voice that could have been Dylan, only in tune, on key and without the gravel. Wow!
He switched back and forth from Spanish to English, smoothly carrying the mixed language lyrics along, letting his voice tell the story regardless of the national tongue. His guitar playing was complex, blending hot rhythm lines and melodic flows smoothly; if you closed your eyes you would think there were three people on stage.
Inamik finished the set with a stirring ballad, so of course, the 30 or so people in the room would not let him go. “Otra!, Otra” (another song) convinced him to plug his guitar back in, and then with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, he let loose with songs from the Rolling Stones and brought the house down.
After a half-hour break for set up and a shot glass of Yanin’s favorite mescal (very smoky) Trialogo plugged in and treated us to some of pianist/keyboard player and songwriter Sophia Ramirez’s latest songs, and of course, Eleazar Soto’s stratospheric saxophone playing. An additional benefit of being in an intimate home setting was that I could get close to Angel Madrigal and bassist Gilberto Rio who are normally hidden in the back. I was able to closely observe their incredible (in the full sense of the word) coordination and each one’s stunning individual playing. I had not been as aware of the sheer artistry of these two at earlier shows.
Trialogo wrapped up the night with a driving piece of jazz/blues that got everyone on their feet. Afterward, I talked with Rios and said I hoped they recorded that last song – he did, and all the other songs too. I hope there is a live album in the works. Their first album, Ultravioleta is currently on Spotify and I hope to see more there soon, especially the last song of the night.
The sky remained ominous, but never opened up, so I did not have to dash to the car in a tropical storm.
Patrick O’Heffernan, Host of Music Sin Fronteras radio
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