Spanish bluesman Ñaco Goñi talks about Lazy Lester, Louisiana Red & Carey Bell, Flamenco and local scene

"About the past I miss the simple are the things, simple but impossible do best, today we play more technical but is not the same beauty...The Blues himself adapted through the years...who knows the way he take  I don’t know Blues is bigger than us."

Ñaco Goñi: Iberian Rhythm & Blues

Ñaco's career began at age 14; then he moved on to different bands and projects like the legendary Tonky Blues Band, and the stable and well-known band, The Bluescavidas. Ñaco also participated in various other projects such as Project Armonica by the brilliant Antonio Serrano and many others. His outstanding playing combines rhythm and melody, strength and sensitivity, and merges into a naturalized virtuosity that flows through winding roads and turns that concentrated feeling into bends, making the listener smile once he recognizes Goñi's language. He's music is inexcusable for any lover of blues and, music in general. Without a doubt, one of the best in Spain.

Ñaco Goñi has been in the frontline of the blues scene in the country almost from its start, approximately 35 years ago. Grown out of the once celebrated musical neighborhood Prosperidad, his trajectory has been intimately linked to Madrid's particular history, where he started out when he was about fifteen playing with older pioneers and friends like Malcolm Scarpa, Whisky David, and Tonky de la Peña (with whom he recorded the groundbreaking Blues Corner-the first blues album in Madrid). Goñi played with an extensive collection of musicians from different countries and generations.

Interview by Michael Limnios

Photos by Ñaco Goñi's archive / All rights reserved

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

I start to listen and play harmonica blues when I was still a boy, so I learn all about me through all this years, Blues give me all I have, I know different parts of the world thanks the Blues, persons, life, etc... The Blues is all for me...It´s my life!

How do you describe Naco Goñi sound and songbook? What characterize your music philosophy?

When I start to play still sounds the old style, I’m from the 60´s, so I learn around that style, modern blues be new for me. I’m white and from Spain and I start to learn the old black blues, I think me only play that I feel so never study music, or practice. I think if you do practicing scales at last you sound scale I don’t like too much sophisticated.

What were the reasons that you started the Blues searches / experiments and you felt the love to harmonica?

It’s simple, I start to play harmonica with 9 years old, one day a neighbor put me a harmonica blues song and...Now I’m here!!

"I start to listen and play harmonica blues when I was still a boy, so I learn all about me through all this years, Blues give me all I have, I know different parts of the world thanks the Blues, persons, life, etc... The Blues is all for me.... It´s my life!"

Are there any memories from Lazy Lester, Louisiana Red, and Carey Bell which you’d like to share with us?

Ok, Lazy come to Spain on tour we go to see him, when the show is finished we invite him to come on to a blues club I come and play together, he likes, after we invite too to come a one flamenco tablao and he see the gipsys doing the real flamenco, not for tourist... he said: is the best music ear in Europe, he really likes I know.

With Carey and Louisiana we have a lot of histories like when I play Juke with Carey in my right and Louisiana in my left, or speak about fuck a sheep because have a pretty face, or the second night we play with Carey he tell the manager: I want Ñaco in the band. Manager said: ...but he play harmonica, and Carey said: I know but play the blues... For me is like touch the roof.

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

About the past I miss the simple are the things, simple but impossible do best, today we play more technical but is not the same beauty ....The Blues himself adapted through the years ... who knows the way he take  I don’t know Blues is bigger than us.

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

Spanish Blues is young we start finishing 70s and starting 80s, I think the years we start are the best years and also today young people play really good and have a little history about the musicians we start, people in Spain play with the soul.

"The real folk and race music in Spain is FLAMENCO and is very very similar to the Blues, not in the structure...is similar in the feeling, history, families do the music, places where play...root flamenco or tourist flamenco, the different kinds, etc...is the same feel and soul with different form."

What are the lines that connect the legacy of Blues from United States and UK to Spain?

The Blues go inside Spain thought British Blues and that way, if you like really, put you in Afro-American Blues... the real BLUES,,, you know Mayall, Alexis Corner, Animals, Yardbirds, etc. is the way to discover Sonny boy Williamson, Big Joe Williams, Sleepy John Estes, Robert Johnson, Charlie Patton, etc .Today, I think, we have personal sound not like some countries in north Europe.

Are there any similarities between the blues and the genres of local folk music and forms?

The real folk and race music in Spain is FLAMENCO and is very very similar to the Blues, not in the structure...is similar in the feeling, history, families do the music, places where play...root flamenco or tourist flamenco, the different kinds, etc...is the same feel and soul with different form.

What is the impact of Blues music and culture to the racial and socio-cultural implications?

Blues community in Spain we are a minority collective, very united but very minority, govern power not support us, People first time find the Blues they like, we are alone but we organized many festivals and activities they are appreciated for a lot of People not only in Blues circle.

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

If I can travel in time I go to Edén Garden to broke or cut the snake heat before she give the Apple to Eva, maybe we can to live in peace without wars, work, political, evils and all that shit... Or go to the future to see my grand-grand sons and ear the sound and way takes the BLUES.

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