Spanish flamenco singer Alfonso Cid will be performing at Gallery 992 in West End on Saturday, Aug. 12, at 8 p.m.
Cid is one of the world’s foremost flamenco singers, trained in music at the Seville Conservatory and in flamenco at the Christina Heeran Foundation. He tours the US, Canada and Spain not only as a flamenco artist, but as a member of the New York Bojara Project, a group of musicians that explore the cross currents of jazz improv and flamenco rhythms, and the Latin band Dientes de Carmero. Cid will be joined in his Atlanta performance by flamenco dancer Julie Moon and guitarist Doble T.
INtown asked Cid about his influences, inspiration and his upcoming performance.
You grew up in the heartland of flamenco and came from a musical family. What are some early memories of flamenco and why was it so inspiring to you?
I was born and grew up in Seville, Spain. My mother is from Triana, a very popular neighborhood on the right bank of the Guadalquivir river in Seville. She experienced the life of the poor working class and gypsy people who lived together in that Seville quarter. Flamenco, and Spanish copla, a style of pop music very much influenced by flamenco and zarzuela or Spanish operetta, was all over the place. I remember listening to her singing while she was, for example, washing dishes at home. My grandfather was also a flamenco fan and after he died, when I was in y teens, I realized we had to keep the tradition alive. The older people were passing away and the newer generations had to take the torch and continue keeping it alive. Around that time I got to know a very good friend of mine whose father was the president of Peña Torres-Macarena in Seville. A peña is a social club. There are thousands of them in Spain, they can be dedicated to flamenco, a soccer team or culinary activities. In that peña we used to gather around a table to study the different flamenco styles listening to tapes, and attend the wonderful shows they would organize on the weekends. I was fortunate enough to see the best flamencos there, la creme de la creme: Fernanda and Bernarda de Utrera, Rancapino, Chano Lobato, Chocolate, José Mercé, Ines Bacán, etc…
You are classically trained and spent a great deal of time listening to some of the greatest flamenco performers in Spain. How do these things come together in your music?
When you grow up in Spain you can not escape flamenco music. It is on radio, TV, in the streets. The kids used to walk by down the avenue where my parent’s apartment is doing intricate hand-clapping rhythms just for fun. All of that gets your ears accustomed to a certain way of doing music. It was after listening to Paco de Lucia’s sextet that I got to know his saxophone and flute player, Jorge Pardo. That inspired me to join the conservatory in Seville to study flute and music theory. I haven’t stopped learning since then. It is a lifetime commitment. There is always a new thing to learn and that’s what keeps it fun. Sometimes I feel like I am on top of the world and some others I am barely holding on to dear life. It keeps you humble and thirsty for knowledge. What could I say about my music? To tell you the truth I’d say it keeps changing and evolving, everything in life is about changing and evolution.
You perform in many different genres of music. How is it different to perform traditional flamenco and rock and jazz influenced music?
I also grew up listening to rock and jazz. I’ve always been curious to go to the roots of the musical styles I listened to. For instance, I used to love the Dire Straits when I was a kid. I read once in an interview Mark Knopfler, the Dire Straits vocalist and guitarist, say that D’ango Reindhart and Chet Atkins were big influences in his playing. I started listening to those artists and from there a totally new world opened up for me. The first thing I did when I had my first job was to buy a jazz collection they would sell in a news stand near my home. They would issue a CD and a chapter of the collection dedicated to a different jazz artist each week. I had a heavy metal face, and a Brazilian, Cuban, Indian or African music face. I’ve always been very open minded about other styles of music. It is natural to me to experiment with other styles of music. My Latin-rock project, Dientes de Caramelo (Candy Teeth), gives me freedom to compose music and lyrics that don’t follow there very strict flamenco aesthetics. And the New York Bojaira Project, the band I’m on tour with right now in Spain, allows me to put together two of my musical love affairs, jazz and flamenco. Jesús Hernández, the band´s pianist from Granada, Spain, is totally bilingual in both genres.! It is a very exciting band to play with!
What are you looking forward to with your performances in Atlanta?
For me, as a performer, I always look for having a good time with my fellow performers, support them and convey that joy to the audience. It is only in that way that you can make people forget about their daily life and make them dream as least for an instant. If I can achieve that, I´d be more than happy.
Gallery 992, is located 992 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd. For more information, visit
Franklin Abbott’s latest project is a double CD of music and poetry, “Don’t Go Back To Sleep.”