I have written in the past that I used to listen to a bit of heavy metal as a teenager (Mostly Metallica), but not really anymore. I mention this because a couple of weekends ago we were round a friend’s house and she had a mix of various different music on. At one point some incredible guitar music came on. It was apparently a Mexican duo called Rodrigo y Gabriela. They have an interesting back story. He was playing in a heavy metal band in Mexico City when they met. She joined the band, but after a few years the band split and the two of them decided to get away and moved down to Ixtapa to play background music in the tourist hotels. They would frequently sneak in heavy metal tunes in, but could get away with it because they were playing acoustic guitars; the tourists being none the wiser thinking they were getting ‘authentic’ Mexican guitar music.
After a while the good life of living in a beach resort got a bit too much for them and they fancied a change. An Irish girl that they met in Mexico suggested that the Irish music scene was so good that they could try there. She told them that since she was going to be away they could live at her house. So not speaking any English they upped sticks and moved to Dublin. Sadly they arrived at her’s to find a note on the door saying that they couldn’t stay there. The taxi driver took them to a cheap hotel and then they hit the bars to offer themselves up as musicians. As anyone who’s been to Dublin knows there is not a shortage of musicians in the bars so they ended up busking.
After not too long their busking started to to draw in huge crowds. On some occasions the police had to come and move on some of the crowds which were spilling out onto the roads and generally creating blockages. Their popularity in Ireland spread such that started getting gigs in pubs and eventually they began producing albums. Their second album went straight to the top of the Irish charts in 23rd February 2006 knocking Johnny Cash off the number one spot. This is the album that covered Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven and Metallica’s Orion although most of the song’s were originals. Those familiar with Orion will remember that it is an instrumental from the Metallica album Master of Puppets. as a teenager I used to have the t-shirt of this album which featured rows of white grave crosses. I bought this in the early nineties from the Arndale Centre in Manchester. This was before the IRA blew the Arndale up with the biggest bomb on Great Britain since the Second World War and at stroke got rid of the hideous cladding and kick-started the regeneration of the city.
Anyway back to Rodrigo y Gabriela. It is really difficult for me to sum up their sound. You just have to listen to it yourself. Unless you saw it you wouldn’t believe that it was just two people playing, I guess part of the reason for that is because Gabriela performs percussion using the guitar as well as playing it normally. If all the talk about Metallica has put you off. Don’t let it. If I hadn’t mentioned it you wouldn’t say heavy metal, in fact a lot of people describe their sound as flamenco, although they shy away from this description. I spent a week at work listening to all their music after being introduced to them. I can heartily recommend you do the same too….
They have now moved back to Mexico. They are no longer in a relationship with each other but still perform all over America and the world as a duo.