Galician Music is these days one of the most uprising music styles in the European folk music scene. FolkWorld has picked out already some of the best acts in former issues: Leilía, Berrgüetto and Carlos Núņez. Another definite top act of the Galician scene is a piper who is often described by the press as the successor of Carlos: Xosé Manuel Budiņo.
Maybe the description "successor of Carlos Núņez" is not the best one - on the one hand, Xosé is older than Carlos, having also started earlier to play the pipes, just he became well-known after the huge success of Carlos. On the other hand, Xosé's music is very different from Carlos' - although both are based on Galician traditions, Xosé has develloped a distinctive folk rock sound with a lot of raw energy, while Carlos' music is probably more graceful and in a way more "perfect".
Having been now for the second time in a row at Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow, his name starts to spread the world as well. His energetic performances have a lot of appeal and excitement. The band he has gathered around him is quite special as well, featuring among others percussion, bass, bouzouki, accordeon and bass clarinet, providing a lot of groove. Xose himself plays Gaita, Whistles and Uilleann Pipes. Another most special feature is the amazingly strong singing of young singer Mercedes Peón. Singing with a lot of passion, she impresses any audience.
Many of the tunes of the Xosé Manuel Budiņo Band are written by Xosé, with the young man writing the music for all instruments - clarinette, accordeon, bouzouki etc. The songs meanwhile are selected by Mercedes Péon, and are traditional Galician songs. Xosé himself is impressed by her: "Mercedes is a fantastic singer - she has sung since she was young. She listened and studied the old singers or pipers around Galicia, with the knowledge she has gathered she is like a walking library for songs - she is fantastic."
Xosé's music is deeply influenced from his folk festival visits during the last 15 years. "Since I was 15, I went to festivals in Brittany, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Galicia. I have seen all the music. If I play at a festival, I discover different music, different musicians, different instruments. When I come back to Galicia, I play music with all these influences. I think my music is Galician music with a lot of colours." A nice description, and you can easily recognise quite a few of these colours. If in the end the music he is playing is Celtic music - Xosé does not care, and has not thoguht about it: "I just play my music - I don't know the kind of music I play."
Playing both the Galician gaita and the Irish Uilleann Pipes gives the programme of Xosé's band a new dimension. For him, playing also the uilleann pipes has some advantages: "I can play with Uilleann pipes two octaves - Galician pipes have a chromatic scale. The Uilleann Pipes have another sound, it's two octaves - it gives me the possibility to play other tunes, slow airs, hornpipes and harp music too. I like this instrument. And the Galician Pipes are my pipes, they are the pipes where I feel my music."
The music life of Xosé started in school, when he was seven years old. Luckily, the school where he went to, taught traditional music, and not the usual standard school music. He started there to play flute, and learn traditional Galician music. "My first festival was with 15, in Lorient. And it gave me a new vision of music and life; I decided to begin a carreer as a musician." After this important decision, the young musician started to play for trophies, in solo pipes, in Galicia. His success resulted in representing Galicia at the Macallan Trophy/Category Piper Solist at the Lorient Interceltique Festival in four consecutive years (1988-91). Finally he decided to have his own project and his own band, recording his first CD "Paralaila".
For the recording, he used old connections to well-known Breton musicians: "I have had the opportunity to play with one of my idols since I was very young - Jacky Molard. And also Soig Siberil, the guitarist. I know Jacky because he went often to Galicia to play festivals, so I wrote to Jacky at his home in Brittany: 'Jacky I have my music, and I want to make a CD - do you like to produce it?'" Jacky directly agreed, "'When do you want to make the recording?' - 'In two months.' - 'OK.'" Soig Siberil also directly said that he would like to join the recording. "So they came to Madrid and we made the album in 20 days, all the album, recording and mixing it. I was very surprised, because I liked to do this album with friends, and it all worked out: Jacky Molard, Kepa Junkera, Soig Siberil, Mercedes Péon." It was an extremely strong and extraordinary album that came out of these 20 days work. At the time this interview was made the preparations for the new album were in full progress. Xosé has had in January an exact idea of the album: "All the music is in my head. It's with Mercedes again, Jacky plays the fiddle, Tony McManus plays guitar. Possibly some surprise - I don't know."
For Xosé, Galician music enjoys currently a healthy situation, bringing together the different generations. "There are a lot of young people professional at this moment. During the last five years more groups, more CDs, more audience, more young people come to concerts - it's fantastic. It is the first time that young people can see young people on stage playing their very own Galician music; it feels like it's their music. At the same time, there are other groups that have been around the last 15 or 20 years. The audience is between 15 years and 70 years. And when the old people see the accordion with pipes, they remember when in Galicia accordion and pipes were played many years ago. And they tell me 'I like your music - it's fantastic.'"
Xosé Manuel Budiño's new album is out on Virgin music Spain
Photo Credit: All photos by the Mollis taken at Celtic Connections Festival 1999 and 2000
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