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Dharmaflamenco II: the transcendence of Billy White

By Suzanne Ludekens

“Dharmaflamenco II”
Billy White in concert and CD presentation
Thu, May 2, 7:30pm
Doors open at 7pm
Rosewood Hotel amphitheatre
Nemesio Diez 11
200 pesos; VIP table for four, 1,200 pesos
info 044-415-101- 6003

I love poetry and words, however I am wondering if Voltaire’s famous quote should be ‘Music is the poetry of the soul, and, above all, of great and feeling souls’? Connection with our own soul and the souls of others is one of the joys of living in San Miguel. It’s a fluid and constant occurrence of life here. Not surprising at all. But what is not such a frequent occurrence is an event that engages and encourages a journey that delights and elates. Billy White’s upcoming concert “Dharmaflamenco II” will do so.

Here he talks about the CD, dharma, flamenco and what he is exploring.

Suzanne Ludekens: What has been your journey in creating Dharmaflamenco II?

Billy White: Dharmaflamenco II is a follow up to the album Dharmaflamenco, released in late 2009. Much of it was written and recorded in San Miguel, greatly influenced by this beautiful city and many deep experiences here, like the birth of my son. I had been in New York and Madrid immersed in the world of flamenco, but also practicing Buddhist meditation, two paths that you wouldn’t normally imagine converging. A lot of the material for the sequel was recorded over the past two years, many travels and life changes. There is even a song, a rumba named after this great place, a humble dedication to all that has happened here.

SL: What influences have been present in the making of this album?

BW: Earth and sky, sun and moon, clouds and stars, love and heartbreak, inbreath-outbreath. Everything really.

SL: One meaning of Dharma is ‘that which maintains the stability and harmony of the universe’ and flamenco you once mentioned is ‘one of the most profound cries of the human condition’. What do dharma and flamenco mean to you, and how do they merge together?

BW: I came to use the name “dharmaflamenco” combining two of the greatest influences I’ve known in this life, both common words but vastly misunderstood. Dharma can also mean “essence” or “law.” Flamenco is a music and art that expresses extremes of human emotion, at the highest level those emotions are transcended and a state of ecstatic union or no self can be reached. This is what is implied by the “dharma of flamenco”, a way of using the flamenco guitar as a vehicle for transcendence.

It also includes Indian and Middle-eastern melody and rhythm, which I allude to in a subtle but, hopefully, profound way. The music on these recordings includes a lot of other instruments besides flamenco guitar; I play quite a bit of drums and various types of percussion, as well as oud, harmonium and saz, a turkish stringed instrument.

SL: We say the heart has strings, what does that mean to you as a guitarist?

BW: Great expression! It can mean a number of things, no? Strings do attach, and sometimes have to be cut, but the guitar does definitely resonate in a way that penetrates deeply and vibrates in the range of the human voice.

SL: Your work is in the genre of World Music, what changes have you noticed in this music?

BW: What’s extraordinary is the cross-pollination happening because of the internet, you can find rare recordings and video on YouTube, things that took huge effort to come across not long ago, and so young people assimilate all this and make fusions very quickly, there is a lot of exciting multi-cultural exchange going on.

SL: You mentioned Dharmaflamenco II is a completion. What has been completed?

BW: This second album with flamenco guitar as the focal point, is the completion or closing of a chapter that’s about the energy and art of this music called flamenco which I was obsessed with for over a decade. It’s led me down so many paths and will always be a deep resource. Now I’m putting more and more energy now into sound-meditation, sound healing. Exploring singing bowls, didgeridoo and overtone singing. Also things like shamanic drumming and ceremonial music.

SL: What do you hope the audience experiences in this concert?

BW: I hope they have a good journey! And experience a variety of emotions, sensations, ultimately I think that music is the best way we can share in a deeply unified experience.

SL: You often have surprises in your concerts, and this one?

BW: It’s a surprise! I always want to be surprised myself…

SL: Will you tell us about the instruments you will be playing. How did you come upon the oud? And your flamenco guitar, where did you find it?

BW: I will be playing a variety of hand drums, cajon (wooden box used in flamenco and latin music) harmonium and oud. Two of my guitars were made by Salvador Castillo, in Paracho, who makes world class instruments — he’s becoming recognized worldwide as one of the top builders of flamenco guitars. The oud I have is from Egypt, it’s an instrument that always fascinated me, one of the oldest of stringed instruments. Sometimes called the grandfather of the guitar. It’s found throughout the Middle East, and the sound goes deep! It’s very expressive.

SL: What question would you like to be asked about your music? And the answer!

BW: Your questions are very good! I hope I’m answering them. But ultimately, the best thing is when people listen so deeply to the music that all the questions and answers disappear–no need to ask anything anymore!

Tickets for Dharmaflamenco II, Billy White in concert are on sale now, 200 pesos, VIP tables for 4, 1,200 pesos at Hotel Rosewood reception, Nemesio Diez 11; Mixta, Pila Seca 3; La Conexión, Aldama 3; Casa Corazón, Hernández Macías 81 and La Tienda, La Biblioteca, Insurgentes 25. More information 044-415-101-6003.

And to complete the sensory pleasure

Hotel Rosewood, to complement the concert, is offering a special tasting menu of its soon-to-be released menu. The tasting menu features locally grown, organic produce with organic lettuce, figs, caramelized nuts, pear and truffle essence balsamic dressing; Garra de león encrusted with chorizo, a delicate bean puree, arugula and veal reduction; beef fillet with mashed potatoes, asparagus, purslane and sweet and sour sauce with a lavender-infused dessert. 580 pesos. Make your reservations for 9:15pm, at 1826 restaurant, call 152-9700.


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