Flamenco with a Chicagoan flavor: An Open Heart conversation with singer and composer Patricia Ortega’s from Las Guitarras de Espana

A few days ago I had the pleasure to have an open-heart conversation with Chicagoan singer and composer Patricia Ortega from Las Guitarras de Espana. I met Patty during my flamenco studies at Wendy Clinard’s Studio. I had the chance to dance to her beautiful singing during Wendy’s open houses, but I had no idea that she was also a composer. I was greatly impressed when she told me she is about to release a CD that is featuring her work in collaboration with Las Guitarras de Espana. The album is titled “Tantas Cosas” (So Many Things), and as the title indicates, this CD has many musical styles that reflect Chicago’s rich cultural diversity. Patty took the forefront on this CD, and taking Spanish guitar as the foundation, the compositions are spiced up with touches borrowed from African, Brazilian, Arab, Indian, Funk, and Rap genres. Patty herself is the product of cultural fusion: She was born and raised in Chicago, but her mom is from Mexico and her dad from Cuba, and as a child, the family parties were infused with Mexican Folk music, Cuban Son, and Flamenco. She mentions that pop, rock, R&B, Mexican ranchera, and artists such as Cafeta Cuba, Ojos de Brujo, Chambuco, Concha Buika, Lila Downs, and Michael Jackson are the inspiration for her compositions.

Patty also borrowed excerpts from her own personal journey during the last two years to write the songs for this album. She has lived “tantas cosas” so intensely during this time that she had plenty of inspiration to create. The CD is a journal in which love is the main protagonist. Patty has poured her heart in these compositions and writes about the joy of being in love, of the sadness of unrequited love, of the pain felt when a relationship ends, of the tender love that a mother feels for her daughter, and also about learning to love unconditionally and live in the present moment. Here are some songs from the CD for your enjoyment:

Tantas Cosas

Dos Besos

No Me Queda Mas

Cada Dia

Alegria de las Ninas

You can buy the CD at www.the guitarsofspain.com. Also, if you would like to be part of the CD release party, then go to Mayne Stage this Saturday June 4 at 7:30 pm. The show promises to be amazing. There will be 25 performers on stage, including Las Guitarras de Espana large ensemble, dancers and guest artists such as Satya, Silvia Manrique from Beaba do Samba, and New-York based Alfonso Cid and his flamenco rock band Dientes de Caramelo. You can get tickets to the show here.

Wanna win a Free CD of TANTAS COSAS? Then visit my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/chicagourbanite), post “I LIKE CHICAGO URBANITE” on my wall, and have your friends comment on your post saying that they were referred by you. Winner is the one getting the most comments. Contest ends tomorrow June 2nd at 10 am. Good luck!

TONIGHT: GYPSY, FLAMENCO, AND TANGO

Today is Friday May 13, and some people may be afraid to go out tonight. If you are not, and are actually looking for some options to spend your Friday evening, let me suggest the following shows:

Flamenco and Gypsy Jazz with Alfonso  Ponticelli and dancer Cristina Gutierrez at Katerina’s

1920 W Irving Park Rd Chicago

$10 cover

Ponticelli has played gypsy-jazz music for more than a decade, having traveled several times to the annual Django Reinardt Festival in France. He introduced gypsy-jazz to Chicago in the 1990s. A multi-intrumentalist, he won the 1994 U.S. National Mountain Dulcimer Championship and plays both banjo and guitar with the Illinois Philarmonic Orchestra. He’s also a gypsy flamenco guitarist, and went  to Cordoba, Spain, to study with the great flamenco guitarist Rafael Riqueni. I saw this show last month and had a great time. I loved the energy of the place and the people working there, and  the connection between the performers and the audience. Here is a sample of what I saw that night:

__________________________

Las Guitarras de Espana presents an Intimate Evening of Flamenco Music at Uncommon Ground on Devon

1401 West Devon Avenue Chicago

Las Guitarras 2011

In its incarnation as a small ensemble, Las Guitarras de Espana features the gorgeous vocal melodies of composer Patricia Ortega, the Indian vocalist, Satya and the rhythmic footwork of flamenco dancer Wendy Clinard. The intensity and beauty on display at the front of the stage is anchored by Afro-Cuban percussion, the melancholy cello work of the Syrian artist, Kinan Abou-afach and the studied Spanish guitar of composer Carlo Basile. Las Guitarras de Espana will release its 5th CD, “Tantas Cosas” in 2011. 10pm, $15. Advance tickets only, purchase HERE  or call 773-465-9801 for reservations.

ARTango Gala Opening Night Party

4203 N Ravenswood Ave

ARTango Center is a studio that offers group and private tango classes and milongas. Tonight, the studio is proud to present a NEW TANGO HOME in Chicago, a place where you can enjoy tango as well as experience authentic Argentinean culture. With its interior designed and built by Argentineans, who put much effort into creating a vibrant modern space that, at the same time, would have an authentic feel of an Argentinean home, the NEW ARTango home is like a little Buenos Aires in Chicago where everyone can come and dance tango, and feel the heat of the passionate milonga nights.
ARTango wants you to fall in love with tango and become friends with the wonderful people of the ever growing tango-community in Chicago. The studio has FREE Parking and the Gala Opening Night Party is scheduled  from 10:00 pm until 5:00 am.Have you ever try Argentinian Asado (BBQ)? Here is your chance to try it because this party will have authentic Argentinian asado. This event is BYOB

Cost: $15 (asado included in the price)

Today is World Dance Day!

Since 1982, UNESCO has designated today, April 29, as International Dance Day (World Dance Day). This day was created to increase awareness of the importance of dance among the general public, as well as to persuade governments all over the world to provide a proper place for dance in all systems of education.  Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO declares that “Dance, being a central part of every culture, constitutes the ideal means for bringing together people from different countries….For vividly illustrating cultural diversity, for embodying rapprochement, there is no better means than dance”.  I cannot agree with her more.

Dance has the power to bring people from different cultures and backgrounds together. I see it every time I dance. My current Tango class, for example, has students from different countries and ages. Despite all of our apparent differences, we all have something in common: our love for dancing. To me, dancing is a way to express myself and to connect with others through music. It allows me to communicate beyond spoken languages.  One word that describes the way I feel when I dance is JOY. I have also seen that joy in others, and many times I have  felt compelled to learn from them. So, today, I would like to thank those who inspire me to keep dancing: Wendy Clinard , Edo Sie and Azucena Vega for Flamenco;  Jenny Avellaneda, Pierr Padilla, Ruben Pachas, and Jessica Loyaga for Peruvian Folk Dance; Ariel Yanovsky, Shafqat Manzur, and Maria ArTango for Tango, and all the other impromptu teachers that I have encountered throughout my life. I also want to acknowledge my dear friend and fellow dancer Hector Bustamante for sharing his love and commitment to dancing with me and for encouraging me to keep improving my dance skills.

Tonight, I am planning on spending the night away dancing some Bhangra. I hope you can also feel the beauty and joy of dancing tonight. And remember:

Picks for the weekend: Flamenco/Gypsy Jazz, Colombian/Spanish Rock, and World Music DJs

Hello there!

I have some cool options for you this weekend. These are:

TONIGHT APRIL 8

ALFONSO PONTICELLI Flamenco & Gypsy-Jazz Showcase: special guest, flamenco dancer, Cristina Gutierrez.

Tonight is your chance to listen to some cool fusion of Gypsy Jazz and Flamenco and see my lovely friend and flamenco dancer Cristina Gutierrez perform at Katerina’s (1920 W. Irving Park Rd. Chicago). This show runs every 2nd Friday of the month. Ponticelli has played gypsy-jazz music for more than a decade,having traveled several times to the annual Django Reinhardt festival in France. He introduced gypsy-jazz to Chicago in the 1990s.  A multi-instrumentalist, he won the 1994 U.S. National Mountain Dulcimer Championship & plays both banjo and guitar with the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra. He’s also a gypsy flamenco guitarist, having been to Cordoba, Spain,
to study with the great flamenco guitarist, Rafael Riqueni. Here’s an example of Ponticelli’s Flamenco nights from a previous monthly showcase, featuring La Perla Alegrias con Panzequito, Alfonso Ponticelli, y Swing Gitan. This youtube footage taken by TierraRojaChicago:


Show starts at 10 pm

Cover: $10

LATIN NIGHT w/ co-host, Latin Socialites!

If you rather want a less intimate atmosphere and feel like clubbing, go to NV Penthouse Lounge’s Latin night (116 W. Hubbard in Chicago). They will be playing Colombian, Top 40, and Spanish Rock music.  Henchman’s DJ Isaias (of Calineiro fame!) will be spinning music.

Cost: No Cover till 11p

SATURDAY APRIL 9

WORLD MUSIC SATURDAY AT LOKAL FEATURIN DJ’S KINO & MWELWA

My DJ friend Mwelwa Musambacine and DJ Kino will be at this modern, European-inspired restaurant and lounge located in Wicker Park playing music from around the world, from  reggae, forro, kizomba, and salsa to samba, afrobeat, ndombolo, calypso, and soca.
LOKaL is located at 1904 West North Avenue. Music plays from 10pm to 3am and there is no cover.

Let me know if you end up going to any of these events. I would love to hear about it. Enjoy your weekend!

Will you party Spanish, Indian, or Greek-Serbian style tonight?

This is one of the reasons why I love Chicago: The diversity of options for the evening. I wish I could clone myself and go to all of them. Here are my three picks for tonight:

First option:Chicago Flamenco Fusion group EL PAYO is celebrating the release of their new CD at Martyr (3855 N Lincoln Ave). Their  fusion represents the integration of the Flamenco rhythms of Spain with the Urban sounds of Chicago. The show will feature local Latin ska band Los Vicios de Papa, and representatives of Sonorama, a Chicago based DJ collective devoted to the best and most danceable in world music. Tickets cost $10 in advance. Buy them here.

Second option: If you want to explore Indian music,  go to the party organized by  Bhangratheque. The theme of their party is “HOLI – Celebrating India’s Festival of Colors”. This is undoubtedly the most fun-filled and boisterous of Indian festivals. It’s an occasion that brings in unadulterated joy and mirth, fun and play, music and dance, and of course a lot of bright colors! The party is at Rednofive Nightclub (440 N Halsted Street). Music by DJ Jimmy Singh & DJ Krush. There will also be Bhangra dance lessons by Ajanta at 9.30pm. Bollywood Groove will raffle free gift certificates to its exciting dance and fitness classes. Tickets cost $5 before 11pm (with RSVP) and $10 after 11pm.RSVP at www.bhangratheque.com

Third Option: Mediterraneo Fridays and Go Live Entertainment present  Greek-Serbian night at NV Penthouse Lounge (116 W Hubbard). Tim “DJ CT” Spears, Milwaukee’s DJ Goran V, and  Dino “Petsa” will be spinning music until 2 am. Admission is free before 11 pm.

If you decide to go to any of these events, I would love to hear about your experience and see your pictures or videos. You can submit them to chicagourbanite@hotmail.com and if you want, we can have them published here.  Have fun exploring Chicago tonight!


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