Argentinian Aníbal Repetto talks about the African roots of blues, the soul of harmonica, and local scene

"The blues is that tribal, African roots, which directly sings an emotion. It's not about chords, riffs, harmony. It is a direct kick to your heart."

Aníbal Repetto: Alma Emoción

Aníbal Repetto was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1968. His first contact with the harmonica was in his eight birthday, he got it as a birthday gift. In 1993 while he was graduating as physiotherapist, he decides to take saxophone lessons. Six month latter he stops the saxophone classes because he discovers that the harmonica is what really interests him, instrument that he was trying to master by his own. Those harmonicas he had received as a toy, in his birthday, takes up more hours of his life as the time pass.

In the beginning of 1994, he decides to take harmonics classes. In 1995 he came in “Media Rosca Boogie Band”, with which he records two cds (by their own), "Noches de blues" (Blues nights) in 1996, and "Por el camino de las cabras" (On the goat's road) in 2000. In 2007 he create his solo band "Aníbal Repetto & bemol 3", and recorded the Cd (By his own) "Kiya".

In 2012 he graduate as psychologist and create "Mudyxon blues", a Chicago style blues band, which has it's name as tribute to Muddy Watters and Willie Dixon. The band members are: Gabriela Vega on vocals, Aníbal Repetto on harmonica, Gonzalo Martone on guitar, Alejandro Mancilla on guitar, Román Zapata on bass and Claudio Laucella on drums. His favorites harmonicists are: Pat Ramsey, Jasson Ricci, Mark Ford, Little Walter, and Walter Horton.

Interview by Michael Limnios

What do you learn about yourself from the blues and what does the blues mean to you?

I meet the blues at seventeen. I began to listen to the Rolling Stones, and I wanted to know who was this guy Muddy Waters. From that day never stop listening the blues. I trying to hear and read everything I could about the history of the blues, and timeliness. At that time did not play an instrument; I was just a fan of the blues. It's hard to describe, it's an emotional connection that cannot be put into words. Words cannot express certain emotions. You cannot just listen the blues only with your ears. When I listen, and when I play blues, is the moment I have the greatest emotional connection to myself. I don't feel the same with other musical styles, and other artistic expressions.

How do you describe Anìbal Repetto sound and what characterize your music philosophy?

I like that you can understand what I am playing. Don´t like play traditional riffs that you can be heard on any classic recordings. I like to build my own phrasing. Otherwise: Why to listen to me?

I like the harmonica has great presence in the song, not limited to play only in the solos. I like to dialogue with the voice or other instruments. Respect to the sound, I like to play punchy, fatten, and compressed; distorted but not too much. My fundamental rule is to enjoy while playing, if I enjoy the public will surely do so. No I conceive it to be otherwise.

"If the blues is emotion, the harmonica is the most appropriate for that instrument...You breathe through their small holes. It is impossible that no thrill in that. The soul enters and leaves with each note. The mood is reflected in every sound coming from there."

Why did you think that the Blues music continues to generate such a devoted following?

Because unlike other genres, blues connects directly to the emotions. You can´t hear the blues and don´t move one foot. The blues is the root of most of the most popular genres, and shares the same root with many other genres of folk cultures (like the tango in Argentina). It is that tribal, African roots, which directly sings an emotion. It's not about chords, riffs, harmony. It is a direct kick to your heart.

Which meetings have been the most important experiences for you? What is the best advice ever given you?

Of all the musicians I played learned something. I am grateful to them all. The best advice they gave me the true bluesman. Those who made it big blues Your lifestyle, away from the massive business. The play with your heart and not your head. The dialogue with the instrument, forgetting everything around you. Watch them playing at 80 or 90 years with the same excitement as ever, without having sold his soul to the market. That´s the blues. Others stuff can be good music, but are not blues.

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, festivals and recording time which you’d like to share with us?

The best blues concert I saw was when Albert Collins came to Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1992. Pure energy.

What do you miss most nowadays from the blues of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

Last regret that many blues musicians have died because not will see them play live. I also miss the sound of the old bluesman. Regarding the future, I think the blues is alive as ever. It is not and never will be a massive genre. But in any city in the world if you look you will find a bar where you can hear a good blues band playing live. Although probably for very few spectators. But that's the blues. The mass depends on the market, and the market wants rock n’ roll and other genres. So many musicians who say playing blues, but then you hear them and they're playing something else. Anything less blues. The future of the blues is not in theaters or record companies. The future of the blues day is brewing in small and dark bars.

 

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

That music is valued as an artistic event, not as a consumer product. I also like people in my country had a greater willingness to go to bars to see live bands playing. There are many bands doing good music, but very few people will see them. Most prefer to attend the spectacular events of the Rockstars. Consume music that record companies sell them on the radio. It is a worldwide phenomenon. They tell people what they have to listen and obey them.

Make an account of the case of the blues in Argentina. Which is the most interesting period in local blues scene?

The blues joined the Argentina in the early '60s, with the help of bands like Manal, then Pappo's blues. But those bands not played a classic blues, but were arming a kind of blues style Argentino. A mixture of blues, ballads, and rock n’ roll. But, beyond that was not strictly blues, I think that thanks to this movement the blues could be known by Argentines. A great time was the 90s came to my country many musicians such as BB King, Koko Taylor, Albert Collins, James Cotton, Robert Cray, Larry Mc Cray, Taj Mahal, and many others. This contributed to many more people to tip the blues. The Argentina Blues Association, which was based in a bar in La Boca, The Blues Special Club was created. A place by its owner, Adrian Flores, gave much support to local blues and brought to Argentina many bluesman we all wanted to see play live. I also believe that now is a good time for the blues in Argentina. There are many bands playing. There are also many Jam, every day of the week. There are very good musicians, most of them little known, and some completely unknown, but could play good blues at any stage in the world. But they are bluesman, do not care about fame, just play the blues.

"Words cannot express certain emotions. You cannot just listen the blues only with your ears. When I listen, and when I play blues, is the moment I have the greatest emotional connection to myself."

What are the lines that connect the legacy of Blues from United States to Argentina?

The contact points are the discs and respect for the bluesman. In Argentina you can hear all styles of blues. In a bar you can hear a duet by Delta blues, and 15 blocks another band doing Blues Chicago. Or both playing on the same stage on the same night.

Do you know why the sound of harmonica is connected to the blues? What are the secrets of?

If the blues is emotion, the harmonica is the most appropriate for that instrument. Unlike the rest of the instruments. You breathe through their small holes. It is impossible that no thrill in that. The soul enters and leaves with each note. The mood is reflected in every sound coming from there.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go for a whole day..?

To a Muddy Watters show,  in the late 50s. Can see Muddy Waters, Little Walter and Willie Dixon together. It would be great. My band it’s a tribute to them “Mudyxon blues” by Muddy and Dixon.

Aníbal Repetto - Harmonica Blues Home

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