January 9, 2005. Here in Guanare, Venezuela, there used to be many "familiar" type night clubs where traditional harp music was played. Now, there is just one left, says my host, Adolfo Cardozo. He took me there on Friday night, and again last night (Sunday).
The performance is all acoustic, and the standard is incredibly fine. Three excellent harpists took the lead in the course of the evening. Several different people took the part of cuatro and maraccas. Many patrons danced in a very traditional way. Also, at least five different men, and two women, took the floor to sing the traditional llanero songs. There are about a dozen well known traditional tune types, such as Gaban, Pajarillo, Zumba que Zumba, Seis por Derecho, and Quirpa.
Adolfo is an energetic singer and composer of songs teaching children about nature and the environment. They describe, for example, the water cycle, biodiversity on a traditional farm (conuco), and the food chain. It is somewhat misleading to think of this as music for children, because it speaks strongly to people of all ages.
We are located here at the edge of the great Venezuelan llano (grassland plain). As I mark the end of my first week in Venezuela, I'm looking forward to trip out into the llano, where we will visit the young harpist who has recorded with Adolfo and his group, on their three CDs featuring the commentaries of La Doctora Gallina (Doctor Chicken).