By Melanie Henderson
Argentine musicians love the blues. Perhaps not immediately apparent to the outsider’s eye, but it is indeed, a fact. The genre’s popularity goes hand-in-hand with the local love for jazz, soul and gospel.
Blues is a special genre to both to Argentine music buffs and musicians from other styles of music. It is still popularly played on local radio and often cited in national rock music, whether lyrically or melodically.
Local blues music is eminent in Argentina’s “under” (underground live music scene), and although not treading heavily in the south American commercial music market, its presence in the live scene is widely respected.
Over the last fifty years there have been blues artists to break through to a broader audience, such as Pappo, who was very popular, paticularly in the 1990s. Today there is a long list of veteran bands in the local scene such as La Mississippi, Memphis La Blusera and the Chevy Rockets who are all very well-known and respected.
In addition, in the last twenty years, blues has really taken flight in the world of music education in Buenos Aires, with the opening of schools such as Gabriel Gratzer’s Escuela de Blues. Oftentimes, many musicians learn techniques from the genre and then apply them to other styles, such as rock and pop.
What’s more each year, hundreds of musicians and singers flock to the provincial town of Pergamino for the ever-growing blues festival.
Also, more-and-more musicians come from the States each year to play alongside Argentine artists in a variety of shows across the country. Mr Jones pub in Ramos Mejia, for example, hosts many big blues events with guest star appearances from afar.
Who is Daniel Raffo?
Daniel Raffo is an extraordinary blues guitarist and a pioneer of the genre in Argentina. He has had an extensive career to date and continues to break boundaries with each working year, further extending his talent to bigger audiences. Last year, he was honoured at the blues festival hosted by Vorterix radio at their famous Colegiales-based theatre and played alongside artists such as Gabriel Gratzer and Fisu Horns.
He started playing the guitar at the age of nine and over the course of his career, travelled all over the world, working with the best blues musicians. He has featured as the guitarist of many international stars of the genre in the industry, such as Philip Guy (Buddy Guy’s brother), Eddie King, Bob Stroger, Eddie Kirkland, Shirley King (BB King’s daughter), Rick Estrin, Jimmy Rip (guitarist and producer of Mick Jagger’s soloist project), just to name but a few.
He has travelled to the States on numerous occasions and played in Chile, Brazil, Italy, and many more countries with numerous amazing musicians and bands.
Inbetween he has become an established blues guitar teacher, having taught at Gratzer´s school and privately.
Raffo also released a new album this year of instrumental songs, called “Raffo Blues,” which he recorded in Vorterix Radio’s Luis Alberto Spinetta Studio.
Why BB King?
Raffo has idolized BB King for his entire life. Ever since he started to play the guitar, the famed blues guitarist was at the top of his study list. He was the first Argentine guitarist to put on tribute concerts to King and began doing so in 1992. The premiere show was particularly special, as it fell on the 11th of September, Teacher’s Day in Argentina.
Raffo had the opportunity to meet King in 1991, when King came to Argentina on tour. They met in Paseo La Plaza in a press conference and were able to exchange words. To this day, Raffo maintains contact with King’s daughter, Shirley King.
Who was BB King?
BB King (born Riley B. King in 1925) was one of the most influential guitarists of the 20th and 21st centuries. A former cotton-picker in Mississippi, he started playing the blues on the streets of his hometown as a way to get out of the existence he was born into in the racially-divided south.
He brought blues to the mainstream music market during particularly difficult times in US society. He was honoured by the US government and invited to play on various occasions at the White House. George W. Bush awarded him the presidential medal of freedom during his presidency.
Over the course of King’s career, the man who labelled his guitar “Lucile” has influenced thousands of artists that crossed his path across genres, from Eric Clapton, to Sheryl Crow, Bono and John Mayer.
He recorded over 50 albums and had hits such as “The Thrill Is Gone,” “Let The Good Times Roll” as well as recording collaborative works with major artists, such as “When Love Comes To Town” with U2 and “Riding With the King” with Eric Clapton.
King was nominated for 30 Grammy awards and won 15 over the course of his career, the last of which “Best Traditional Blues Album” for “One Kind Favor” in 2008.
This week’s tribute show
Raffo will be performing what he has called “the show of his life” in honour of his teacher and prime influence of his career, in a blues-packed concert this Friday at the famous La Trastienda Club on the quaint and cobbled streets of San Telmo.
The show will include a full band of 12 musicians, as well as eight guest singers, among them the absolute best in blues and soul from the local scene. The show includes Raffo’s band, King Size: Juanito Moro on drums, Nacho Porqueres on bass, Nandu Aquista on keyboards, Roberto Porzio on rhythmic guitar, Leonel de Francisco, Yamile Burch, Franco Espindola in the horns section, as well as Victoria Ponisio, Antonella Giunta and Vero Vera singing back-up.
Guest singers include the incredible former BlacanBlues singer Deborah Dixon, former Oreos singer Felipe Herrera as well as many more in the line-up.
Doors open at 23.00, tickets start from $150 pesos and can be bought from the venue box office or on tuentrada.com.
To keep up-to-date with Argentine Arts, follow us on Twitter/Facebook: @argentinearts.