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Queen Guitar Rhapsodies

My Tour of Mexico Keeps me Wide Awake

And yet sleep is better than practise

I have just finished a five concert tour of Guanajuato and Queretaro in Mexico. I enjoyed every moment. The only problem was sleep: not enough of it, and what sleep I did have happening at the wrong time. Just imagine arriving in Mexico on an 11 hour flight from London. I set out at 1.30pm and arrived at 12.30am the next day, except I wasn’t arriving in UK time but Mexico time, so it was 7.30pm instead. My first concert was 48 hours later at 8pm. That is 8pm Mexico time, but 2am UK time!

The priority when I am on tour in a different time zone is not practice but sleeping at a time which encourages me to be wide awake to produce my best playing. I arrived in Queretaro for my first engagement by car, went out for lunch, and still not having touched the guitar that day went to sleep, waking up in time to have a shower, be collected and taken to a magnificent patio where the concert took place. A large crowd turned up, lively and excited. I stayed awake and played my best.

My next concert was a few days later so I planned to adjust to local time no problem, except my body was having none of it. I could hear my body think:
“Why should I adjust to a new time zone when there is no urgent need to do so for a few days?” And so it turned out!

Still, my body did behave and I was wide awake for my next performance in San Miguel de Allende, an old town in the province of Guanajuato which has largely been populated by Americans. At the beginning I asked the audience:
”¿Quienes de ustedes no comprenden el ingles?” Not a peep from anyone! Everyone understood English. I refrained from asking the more searching question “how many of you cannot understand Spanish?” So I spoke in English to a largely American audience in a picturesque town in the depths of Mexico – a rather surreal experience.

A couple of days later I drove to the bustling city of Irapuato near the capital of Guanajuato. Here a large theatre in the middle of town awaited me. Rather like Queretaro a well kitted amplification system was provided and fine tuned expertly. By this time I was almost well adjusted to a regular sleeping pattern, except for the extreme heat which invited one of the greatest pleasures known to man, or at least to me: the Spanish siesta. I love siestas so I am not complaining.

By the time of my Irapauto recital I had presented two different programmes in three concerts: Magical Mystery Guitar Tour and 400 Years of Music for Guitar. The first programme centres on my arrangements of music by the Beatles and Queen and Spanish music. The second programme includes the Villa-Lobos preludes, a Bach suite, music by Weiss, and Smith-Brindle’s El Polifemo de Oro as well as some Spanish pieces . Yet in spite of having to provide more than two and a half hours of music on tap from memory, I had little inclination to practice, instead - yes you have guessed it – I just wanted to sleep! After each performance as is customary there was a late supper with the organizers and friends, and this most necessary, pleasurable and beneficial activity takes precedence over sweet dreams. But forget the idea of a lie-in, early each morning I was summoned by eager students to listen and advise and issue supposed words of wisdom.

My last performance was in Salamanca. As I drove into town I saw large posters of my person at almost every bus-stop – very flattering indeed. Not surprisingly given such a publicity campaign the concert was sold out in advance and still people clamoured to get in on the night. This concert too took place in the magnificent patio of a huge ex-convent. This time I played a programme called Los Beatles, Queen y Música Española and I believe a good time was had by all including me. The contrast between the styles of music worked beautifully.

The day after this last performance I briefly considered doing some playing on a splendid brand new guitar I had just acquired from Vicente Barajas Martinez, but yet after a few notes I tucked the guitar back into its case and myself into bed, and slept for the best part of ten hours on and off. I am still in Mexico and now feel quite good and rested. The problem now is flying back to London and going through the whole thing all over again in reverse. It will be a 10 hour flight starting at 9 in the evening and arriving at 7 in the morning the next day, but since I will be in London and not Mexico it will be 1pm. The advantage of that hour is that it is so very close to siesta time. What bliss!

And so I am about to wave good-bye to Mexico once again – that marvellous culture where the Spanish, the European, and the pre-Spanish Aztec compete for prominence, each clearly delineated, each contributing to create something very special.

Guanajuato, Mexico, 12 May 2012

Printed from: http://www.carlosbonell.com/blog/?p=1232 .
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