Back in 2009 we started this series of articles about Spain’s capital city Madrid, and we depicted its folk music scene: pubs, concert halls, musicians, instrument makers, shops, folk music festivals,... But let’s focus now on the subject of live folk music sessions.
Madrid’s Folk Sessions in the 1980s & 90s
In the past issue of FolkWorld, we interviewed the musician José Climent, who helped us to remember how a new folk music revival took place in Madrid after 1975 Spain’s transition into democracy. Climent remembers how in the mid-late 1980s that new generation of folk musicians started to look for bars & pubs where they could play in concerts or jam sessions. One of Madrid’s oldest districts ( known today as Barrio de las Letras ), was the area that witnessed some of those first folk jam session attempts in bars with names such as LA TABERNA ENCANTADA or FIN DE SIGLO. But at the end, there were some of the first Irish style pubs opening business in Madrid the ones that provided the most suitable environment for these musicians. Those places were named EL LEÓN DE ORO, LA FONTANA DE ORO, and of course LA TABERNA DE ELISA, which soon became the key meeting place for the Celtic and folk musicians from Madrid, and from many other places in Spain and abroad.
Many new Irish pubs established their business in Madrid in the mid and late 1990s, and some of them hosted regular Celtic music concerts. But only a couple of them honestly tried to establish real Irish music sessions (like FINBARs, which closed business around 2010). Still in the decade 2000-2010 there have been new Irish pubs opening business in Madrid, but most of them are conceived as large spaces capable to host big crowds enjoying: football matches on huge TV screens, rock & roll concerts, and Halloween & St. Patrick’s Day celebrations where the dark beer mass flow runs in gallons/second. These are not really the small & cozy kind of places that provide the friendliest habitat for acoustic folk music.
Madrid’s Sessions in 2015
Taberna Elisa closed business in 2013, and there were some rumors that it would reopen sometime in late 2015. The fact is that the many folk musicians who used to play there for the last twenty years, have now moved their live jam sessions to a few other places.
EUROPEAN FOLK JAM MUSIC SESSIONS :
The above mentioned pioneer folk musician José Climent has established for the past two years some big folk music jam sessions in the town of Aravaca, just 8 Km to the northwest of Madrid’s old town. They do not take place so regularly, maybe just twice or three times per year (in spring, summer & fall), but they are top level, sometimes with professional guest musicians such as Jaime Muñoz y Carlos Beceiro (from Madrid’s band La Musgaña), Rafa Martín (La Bruja Gata), Javier Chacón (Xtramonio), Hector López (Hexacorde), or the Irish bard Marcas O Murchu. They meet in the bar named ELOTRO, located in the shopping area at the center of Aravaca’s neighborhood ‘Rosa Luxemburgo’ (www.facebook.com/ElOtroBarCafe). So far these events have been a complete success attracting new musicians, playing in a family atmosphere that keeps bringing back an increasing audience. They continue building up a repertoire in a fair balance between Spanish, Irish, French, Portuguese & Eastern European traditional music.
These events are announced through José Climent’s Facebook pages: www.facebook.com/mirandonubes.nubes?fref=ts
There is also a new Facebook portal that keeps some regular information about folk music events in Madrid, and also announces most of the video recordings from these sessions uploaded in Youtube. This portal is named : BUJE . Información sobre música folk desde Madrid .
The BUJE Facebook page is : www.facebook.com/BUJE2015?fref=ts
The associated Youtube channel is : www.youtube.com/channel/UCxmPk9XXJnomMZHZXPQXPmQ
Some Youtube videos :
IRISH & ‘CELTIC’ JAM MUSIC SESSIONS
Years before the closing of ‘La Elisa’, several Irish or ‘Celtic’ musicians were already meeting in another Irish pub nearby: TABERNA DEL LEÓN DE ORO (calle del León, 13, Madrid 28014). There are a few videos recorded there (in 2009), that could be found in Youtube. They have quite good sound quality, but with the poor illumination typical in this pub. I believe sessions still go on every Wednesday night.
There is even a Facebook page somehow related to these sessions: www.facebook.com/groups/50397925142/?fref=ts
Some Youtube videos :
AMERICANA MUSIC JAM SESSIONS
Americana music was another popular genre that several USA ex-pats started to introduce in ‘La Elisa’ in latest years. They claim to play a variety of North American styles: Bluegrass, Country, Folk, Blues, Dixie, Western, Ragtime, Oldtime, Hillbilly, Gospel, Swing, Cajun, Rock ’n’ Roll. A key place for their gatherings is the restaurant THE TOAST CAFE (www.facebook.com/TheToastCafe), located in calle Fernando el Católico, 50 (28015 Madrid). Every Saturday & Sunday nights seem to be the jam session regular dates.
There is Facebook page somehow related these sessions: www.facebook.com/americanamusicjammadrid?fref=ts
Some Youtube videos :
Photo Credits: (1) The Asturian bagpiper Xuacu AMIEVA playing in TABERNA ELISA, (2) Marcas O MURCHU & José CLIMENT in Aravaca (2015) (3) JAM MUSIC SESSION in bar ElOtro, Aravaca (Madrid) (4) A.M.J.M. (Americana Music Jam Madrid) (unknown).