The journey to find a genuine fusion of two distinct and profound musical styles is a daunting task for anyone. Can it be done? Do two separate arts have a common-ground musically that adequately represent the cultural integrity of each?
Enter Chris Burton Jácome, Flamenco guitarist and composer. Jácome felt a driving force to answer these questions. He charged his project, ¡FlaMÉXico!, with finding, creating and celebrating the musical confluences of Spain’s Flamenco and México’s Mariachi.
Fast forward to today, ¡FlaMÉXico! has created an enthralling show featuring the melding of two beautiful arts and cultures. During our FREE summer concert series on Friday, August 23 at 7:30pm, ¡FlaMÉXico! will present their findings in a way that will move you to your feet.
Out of pure curiosity as to why anyone would challenge themselves with such a large musical task, we interview Jácome more about his musical journey. Here’s what we found out:
Chandler Center for the Arts [CCA]: How old were you when you started your musical journey?
Chris Burton Jácome: I received my first guitar when I was 13. I started taking lessons right away and, according to my friends, I reached a pretty good skill level more quickly than they might have anticipated. I don’t really consider myself consciously deciding to pursue music though until I was in my late teens. I got more and more into music throughout my teenage years…started giving other high school kids guitar lessons when I was 16. I consider my “official” journey beginning when I decided to get a degree in music in college.
CCA: Do you play any other instruments other than the guitar?
Jácome: I am not musically fluent on any other instrument. I sing. I have composed some very basic piano music but the only instrument I play and can “speak my mind” on is guitar.
CCA: Your website mentioned the “fusion of two distinct and profound musical styles began as more of a whim.” Did you ever imagine this “whim” would bring you to where you are at today?
Jácome: Great question! Sometimes the ideas that just “come to you” are the best ideas! This “whim” that I had a few years ago has already transformed into a very solid, real group. I’m somewhat perplexed as to how this is all working myself…but it is! I still consider this idea in its beginning stages but I am finding more and more artists who are willing to put in the time and energy to cross-train in two different artistic styles and the more artists I get on board the more I can develop the concept. I’m really excited to bring this project to Chandler Center for the Arts and the greater Chandler community. I’ve always believed that Flamenco is an art form that everyone can appreciate but now with the fusion of mariachi music this concert will be a real delight for anyone who has grown up here in the Southwest or has an affinity for Mexican and Spanish cultures.
CCA: Are there any musicians or bands who have inspired you?
Jácome: Generally, I find inspiration in all bands and all music. Specifically, Flamenco artists that inspire me include: Paco de Lucía, Tomatito, Inés Bacán, Moraíto, Manuela Carrasco, Ramón Montoya, Pedro Sierra, Juan Manuel Cañizares, Antonio Mairena, Fernanda de Utrera. In Mariachi…although not traditional, I’m biased because our cousins are married…Linda Ronstadt. As well as artists such as Vicente Fernández, Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, Nati Cano’s Mariachi Los Camperos and all of the mariachi artists that I’ve seen and heard in my life.
CCA: What can our patrons expect from the upcoming show?
Jácome: Rhythms that make you want to dance! Heart-wrenching songs that make you want to hear them again and again! Flamenco footwork that will blow your mind! And, of course, a group of highly skilled artists that love being the tour-guides into the music and dance of the cultures of Mexico and Spain.
CCA: Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?
Jácome: Keep practicing, playing, studying, learning and developing. Find as many teachers as you can. Above all, define your goals with music because your destination will determine what route you take and how dedicated you must be to reach your destination. If your goal is to have fun, then by all means, have fun! Learning a musical instrument enriches your life and provides so many opportunities to create great relationships and communities. If your goal is to become a professional musician and earn your living from your music, well then, you might not have the luxury of music always being fun. Prepare yourself to sometimes call music, “work.”
CCA: Any additional comments?
Jácome: This is going to be a great evening! Flamenco and Mariachi are both art forms of the people and they are wonderful performance art forms because the more audience participation, the BETTER! Please come early to get a good seat and bring your gritos (mariachi yells) and your ¡Olé!’s (flamenco words of encouragement) because we’re going to have a night to remember!
Come and enjoy the best of both worlds of ¡FlaMÉXico!, the musical reflection of two cultures forming a new vision on Friday, August 23 at 7:30pm. No tickets required, the show is FREE. All seating is first come, first served. Doors open at 6:30pm, and seating starts at 7pm. Suggested donations: $5/person, $10/family. Your financial support is appreciated.