April 2009: Next stop, Esperanza(h)!

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April 2009: Next stop, Esperanza(h)!

Eight years of Radio Chango – a celebration is definitely in order.  I won’t, as in previous years, reminisce about the pilgrimage made by three enlightened men from Catalonia, in pre-Bush Barcelona.  This year we ought to look to the future.  Firstly to the celebration at La Caspa on Saturday, 18th April which will see perform both the Club Mestizo All Stars and Muyayo Rif.  Secondly because we are only two months away from the Festival Esperanzah, in which Radiochango is taking part, and which will see 50 acts perform across three days; among them some of el chango’s bands, plus some as yet unannounced surprises.

The Festival will be organising a press conference at the end of the month to reveal the names of the bands who will be performing.  We’ll make sure to keep all of you informed so you don’t miss this popular and reflective fiesta of solidarity which, given the current climate, is so very necessary.  It is a festival without socially irresponsible sponsors (yes! We found them!). A festival entirely not-for-profit (yes! It exists!).  A festival whose costs are in tune with the economic wherewithal of the majority of people.  A festival with NGOs and associations, documentary films and conferences, organised with and from the lowest common denominator (with, of course, the required, unequivocal seal of musical quality).  A festival situated in El Prat, 15 minutes from Barcelona and 5 minutes from the airport (so that no one misses the gathering).  A festival with positive energy and good vibes coming from everyone (and with ‘real’ radio, transmitting in FM). An anti-crisis festival designed so that we can recuperate our hope, optimism and energy.  A different festival is possible!


Backtracking a little to the Fiesta del Mes and the Club Mestizo All Stars.  The All Stars are a band of variable complement who essentially come together to play concerts – perfectly in tune with the mixed, mestizo ethos of music in Barcelona since the late 90s.  Members of the band including Dusminguet, Brazuka Matraca, Macaco, Color Humano, Radio Bemba, Lúmbalu, Fufu Aï, O Jarbanzo Negro, La Kinky Beat (and the list goes on) come together offering a revue of the past 10 years of musical mestizaje, playing songs, both past and present, in a carnival of voices and an explosion of instruments.  The atmosphere is always extraordinarily charged with emotion, with the band mixing covers and improvisations and always remaining unique.

Most importantly, though, they are all friends (and sometimes old bandmates) who take to the stage to remind us of a the good times when, not so long ago, to play and improvise in the bars and taverns of the Barrio Gótico or el Raval didn’t result in instruments being confiscated or bars being shut down.  This is an opportunity to see perform an entire generation of exceptionally talented artists who inhabited Barcelona back in the day.  Artists who have gone their separate, and sometimes parallel ways, but still manage to enjoy themselves like little kids when they come back together to remember all that was accomplished in the Club Mestizo.


Without further ado, let’s move on to the topic of the current crisis.  The U.S. and Spain are already in deflation, something which has not been seen since the WWII and the Civil War.  The French are longing for Chirac (78% of them holding a favourable opinion of the man; a popularity level he was never able to reach while politically active).  Meanwhile, Sarkozy does not hesitate in the slightest to state, in front of both members of parliament and journalists, that he doubts the ability of Obama and that he is an admirer of Berlusconi for his political longevity (It couldn’t also be, perhaps, for his fortune, his perfect tan, his manner, the friendships he holds, his control of the media or his reputation as a womaniser?)

Meanwhile in Spain Zapatero, as a last-ditch attempt, is swapping ministers for political heavyweights only 10 months after his re-election, and is giving off the impression on a daily basis that he’ll cut short his term in power.  Unemployment in Spain is almost at the 10% mark, that’s 4 million people; bringing back memories of times not so long ago…

The G20 has dressed itself up as a cop to try to reclaim money wherever it can (or, better said, wherever it is – read: tax havens).  Not even the town councils can pay off their debts, with the European Union trying to force them to repay within 30 days.  The people preaching in Brussels are the same people closing businesses, to whom they owe billions of euros.  Obama has yet to make a single move on the international stage; apart from one token gesture toward Cuba (raising both the number of annual trips and the amount of money allowed to be sent to Cuba by Cuban families); words but no action on the issue of Palestine, and billions of dollars pumped into General Motors and the continuing wars in Iraq and Afganistan.  In the latter of the two countries, things are going from bad to worse ever since Bush made his case that the most sought-after, and the most ‘dead’, terrorist was hiding somewhere in there: not only has heroin production reached record levels, but also the latest law to be passed is one which limits the right to movement of women, essentially justifying cases of marital rape.

In Bolivia Evo Morales, facing his umpteenth hurdle, has began a hunger strike which realistically will only mean him losing the energy and time needed to pursue his goals… goals which he could spend a great deal of time changing, both in the political and economic climate which we face today.  Instead it’s a case of a lot of photos, chin-wagging, proposals and promises, but no real solution; lots of crises of confidence in the current model, just no solutions coming from the ‘top’.  All in all there’s a great deal of band-aid, lights (but only flashes), silhouettes of politicians and a void of ideas.

A friend told me the other day: “no one knows where the brakes are any more, nor where the bicycle which we’ve all got on is actually going”.

:: Mono Lo (Translation by Oliver Boothroyd) ::



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