Wednesday, February 1, 2012

BIG DOGS VIVA VINO


A GYPSY KING SINGS IN OLD TOWN
          Temecula, CA – Being the Saturday of the first month of the New Year seemed a good time for my latest LLWAP* adventure. As usual it all started with a phone call. I had been smoozing with Susan (see upcoming story of the same name) when the call came in from new friend Daphne, a name I hadn’t heard since Frasier or Scoobie-Doo. “Do you know The Gypsy Kings?” asked the excitedly seductive voice on other end of the cell phone. “I’ve heard of the name,” was my reply.
“Well the lead singer is singing tonight in Old Town. Do you feel like going dancing? Susan is coming with.” I think you know my answer.

          The ‘girls’ picked me up and we were off. Now before we go on, Susan is one of those scene girls with an alter ego outside the scene, like Kixi, iPod, Kathi, Pink Elephant, Super Betty, Nickel Sack, well, you get my drift. Riding into Old Town Temecula brought back a lot of memories for a guy who rarely runs on that side of the tracks, er, freeway, especially when we turned left at The Edge, cough, Afroman.
Piling out of the van, I started looking down the street for the music show when Daphne asked if I was hungry, [I was]. “We had some Indian food on the way before we stopped for you, I’m sorry.” I wasn’t, as Indian food is one of my least covered palates. Without missing a beat and before I could offer a suggestion Daphne piped in, “Why don’t you get a hotdog over there?” I blinked; then turned to Susan’s AE. “Didn’t I see this place in your video?” (Again, see the upcoming story, Smoozie with Susan). A Jewish tee hee blushed my way; then the night and this story were off and running.
          Directly across the street from Viva Vino [951-506-5953], the wine and snack (tapas) bar where Nicolas Reyes (Kings in Spanish), lead singer of The Gypsy Kings, was to perform later sits Granddadz Hotdogs, a month and a half old addition to Old Town. Built and established by the original ‘gateway to Old Town Temecula’, Penfold’s, or Dave Penfold to be more exact. Gone is the tiny hotdog shop that used to be at the same location and gone are the puny Hotdog Shop hotdogs along with it.
          “We tore down the little shack that had the little spigots and opened two buildings,” said the pleasant-looking man that could be a poster child for a kindly granddad type in a movie as he pointed to an open air area twice the interior size of The Vault and a brand new bar that offers Black Market Brewery’s golden elixir Hefeweizen. “I want to put in a stage over there because we want to start having open mike, karaoke, and dancing.”
“Yeah, we’re going to start booking bands and over there have some (pitch ‘n’) toss,” said feisty ‘right-hand man’ Ashley, the establishment’s go-to girl flashing a tomboyish smile.
Meanwhile back at the bar Daphne was finding out that the BMB Hefe wasn’t the bitter beer she remembered from her first visit to Granddadz [it was a Guinness] and I was thanking her for showing me how much an orange slice added to my favorite beer. Then it was time to walk across the street to hear a king sing, a Gypsy King.
The Gipsy Kings are a group of musicians from Arles and Montpellier, who perform in Spanish with an Andalucían accent. They are known for bringing Rumba Catalana, a pop-oriented music distantly derived from traditional flamenco music, to worldwide audiences. Their music has a particular Rumba Flamenca style, with pop influences; many songs of the Gipsy Kings fit social dances, such as Salsa and Rumba. Their music has been described as a place where "Spanish flamenco and Romani rhapsody meet salsa funk"
          The band started out in Arles, a town in southern France, during the 1970s, when brothers Nicolas and Andre Reyes, the sons of renowned flamenco artist Jose Reyes, teamed up with their cousins Jacques, Maurice, and Tonino Baliardo (whose father is Manitas de Plata). They originally called themselves Los Reyes and started out as a gypsy band. They traveled around, playing at weddings, festivals, and in the streets. Because they lived so much like gypsies, the band adopted the name the Gipsy Kings. Later, they were hired to add color to posh parties in St. Tropez.
          In 1989, Gipsy Kings was released in the United States, and it spent 40 weeks on the charts, one of very few Spanish language albums to do so. They covered "I've Got No Strings" on the 1991 Disney video and compilation album Simply Mad About the Mouse. Their cover version of "Hotel California" is an example of fast flamenco guitar leads and rhythmic strumming (this version was featured in the Coen Brothers' movie The Big Lebowski, as well on the HBO series Entourage). The 2010 film Toy Story 3 featured a version of "You've Got a Friend in Me" performed and recorded by the Gipsy Kings; the Spanish release featured the Spanish version, titled "Hay un Amigo en Mi" and played in a Spanish flamenco style.
          Tonight at the rather plush setting of Viva Vino, Nicolas Reyes, played along in the 3 rhythmic strumming guitars which featured a single lead rose-colored guitar, but it was Nicolas’ unique warbling that stood out among the other vocals. The 5-string bass and a drum box rounded out the line-up that had the older crowd sashaying around the dance floor in front of the band. Though I was more than a little rusty dancing in the style similar to my high school days I did manage to get a ‘cha’ out when Daphne and I cha-cha’d.
          I’m not sure when I’ll get down to Old Town again but this night definitely stuck out as an ‘add’ to my music taste buds. Plus it was the first time that I had any Black Market brew away from the Black Market itself. Sometimes it’s good to get out and try something new. After all, travel broadens one. Still I may have to take a lesson or two before I put a rose between my teeth though.

(* - Lois Lane With A Penis)

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