Sun, Sombrero and Santa. Hello 2014!
At the beginning of a new year, I normally quite like to give an overview on which potential new acts may experience the spotlight; talk about some new releases brewing up in the musical cauldron; sometimes share my excitement about any upcoming gigs I may be attending this year – basically, turn over yet another page and start afresh on a new musical note.
But, as I type this in-flight from the most distant place I’ve ever travelled to (and I can assure myself that I am yet to travel more!), it feels only fitting to reflect on some of the more cultural aspects of this vibrant place they call Mexico.
My first observation would undoubtedly have to be that in order to taste the true colours of your host country’s rainbow, then for God’s sake don’t trap yourself in the pretentious luxury of your *gazillion* star hotel resort! Yes, it may offer – dare I say egoistic – comfort at an outrageous price, though what it more importantly fails to offer is the true spirit of the local people. It makes me somewhat sad, almost disappointed, to drown in this ocean of holidaymakers too afraid to willingly stray away from the perfectly maintained beach-front. There are real cities out there, just a bus ride away. A bus caught independently, off the side of the road; not one pre-arranged for you by Thomas Cook. There are real villages out there, with real people who appear to live completely secluded from all the tourist hustle and bustle of the grandest hotel resort just a few miles down the road. Correction: a no-longer-existent and taken-over-by-nature concrete track, so you’d never know those villagers were even there. Perhaps surprisingly, a place you’d never think you’d reach so easily just by bothering to walk a good number of miles up the beach with a backpack containing water, a sandwich and suncream. And just like that, just by pretending on Christmas day that you’re a family of explorers, you get to meet local people who will tell you more about their local area and their mother country than any university-educated tourist guide ever could. I have the words of our Thailand supervisor ringing in my head incessantly as I’m typing: don’t be a tourist, be a traveller. In other words, do as the locals do! Wouldn’t you rather swap the Yorkshire puddings and turkey and cranberry sauce and mince pies for a good ol’ grilled corn on the cob and a butter jacket potato, sprinkled with a little salt and adventure? Damn, I love an adventure.
I’ll tell you something else that the hotel buffet will never, ever beat. You really can’t beat a veg tortilla with extra habanero sauce and a mojito, accompanied by a quartet of Mexicans playing an allegro tune at your table, complete with violin, guitar and accordion. Obviously for tips – but, in their defence, these people have to make a living somehow and frankly, I’d rather give them my spare change than spend it on some stupidity later on in the day. And they had talent! And it made me smile a lot because you stop and think: these street musicians are probably averaging a good 50 years or so of playing that guitar and consuming Tequila, but they’re still going strong and spreading merriness on the streets! Good on them; the world needs more people like them. This is also why I respect buskers. I’d never have the courage to do what they have to do; not only in with the motive of getting their name out there, but all too often in order to simply make a living by utilizing their musical talent, as well as the faith and good-will of passers-by. It’s got to be a two-way relationship, the busker and the pedestrian. The speaker and the listener. What’s the value of a voice with no ear to hear it? It’s no less than that of any other, its value is just either undiscovered or undervalued. But I digress into the wrong territory. Let me get back on track.
2014 – woop dee doo. I’m 20 this year… blimming hell. You know who else is 20 this year? That holy trio I speak of far too often (alas, somewhat less recently thanks to their disappointing latest release.. although according to NME, they’ll be working on new material soon). MUSE! The obsession of my mid-teenage years is slowly making a comeback and is sure to slap me full on in the face once I get my hands on their twentieth anniversary concert ticket. Inevitably, the price of said ticket is most likely to quintuple that face-slap but… it will be worth it, even if it means it’s the only gig I go to in 2014! Sigh, student life…
But cabin lights have now dimmed and, seeing as the light from my laptop screen is the only source of visible radiation for rows on end (okay I’m exaggerating for effect, shh), this seems like a good place to conclude my first post of 2014. Crikey. 2014. Who the hell knows what this year will bring? Pues, feliz navidad y prospero año nuevo, mis amigos!
(Sorry, can’t help but insert a sneaky Bublé track here… it’s perfectly appropriate, no?)