Friday, April 26, 2013

GriffDawg's Choice Nugs: Los Delinqüentes

I moved to San Sebastian, Spain in January of 2012 on the recommendation of my great friends and Vagabrothers, Marko and Alex Ayling.  I moved for the wild adventures, excitement and new experiences.  Hemingway, stories about Spanish culture, bullfights, tapas, warm weather, and flamenco stoked my excitement. 

I took the train from Madrid to San Sebastian on a cold January night.  As our train pulled into the station, the conductor announced that we were arriving in “Donostia.”  I was confused because the next stop should have been San Sebastian.  I looked around wildly and noticed that no one looked as concerned as I did.  In a wave of panic, I ran to an elderly gentleman who was donning a funny little hat and asked,

“Disculpé señor pero, ¿¡¿ Cuándo llegaremos a San Sebastián?!?”

With a quizzical look on his face he replied,

“Pues, hijo, ya estamos en Donosti.”

That moment I realized I was on a different adventure from the one, which I had envisioned. Donostia, or Donosti for short, is the Basque name for San Sebastian. I quickly learned that natives proudly consider themselves Basque and not Spanish. They have culture, language, and history different from the other parts of Spain and they have oft been ostracized.

I love the Basque Country.  It is an amazing place that is as culturally and traditionally rich as it is naturally beautiful.  However, here, Spanish is not cool.   If you come here with a Real Madrid jersey you will probably be called a fascist.  No one listens to flamenco music, bull fighting is frowned upon, and tapas have been renamed “pintxos.”

When Basques allow something Spanish into their little world you know that is radical.[1]  My favorite examples of Spanish imports are; ham from Extremadura, wine from La Rioja[2], and the super radical band Los Delinqüentes from Andalusia.    

Los Delinqüentes, made music worthy of Spanish adventures, life on the streets, farms, and in the plazas of southern Spain.  The band’s members came from humble backgrounds and frequently busked in the Central Jerez Train Station.  Later, they adopted the tick as their symbol due to its association with farm and street life. The music, deeply rooted in flamenco and rock and roll, was crisp and energetic.  Their lyrics highlighted the tomfoolery omnipresent Spanish plazas and in their “tick” lifestyle. 

The band was formed in Jerez de la Frontera, Cadiz in 1998 by Marcos del Ojo and Miguel Benitez who were both 15 at the time.  Because Los Delinqüentes were always in the street their mentor and guitar teacher, Diego Pozo, gave Marcos and Migue guitar lessons on the front step of the Jerezano Movie Theater.  Later that year, Marcos y Migue incorporated Diego into the mythical band.  After recording their second demo, the band was signed to Virgin Records.

The trio, made three albums before Migue died of a heart attack at the age 21.  Migue had the attack shortly after a series of stints in rehab.  The band has since come out with three more albums and gained a certain amount of international exposure.   What follows are just some of their JAMANDAHALFS!

[1]The autonomous community of the Basque Country is located the northeastern corner of Spain and is the about the size of Delaware.  The unofficially recognized Basque Country, which includes parts of other Spanish communities and a part of France, is closer in size to New Jersey. 
[2] Basques claim that the part of La Rioja which lies north of the Ebro River as their own.  

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