My wife, Char, and I were pleasantly surprised recently when we squeezed into the Inca Lounge & Bistro’s tiny venue above Cuenca’s Tomebamba River to listen to a couple of Canadian blues musicians.
The local expat community responded enthusiastically on short notice of the event, which was, more or less, impromptu, as the two musicians had just met for the first time a few days earlier. Not more than 35 to 40 patrons fit into the place, packed in pretty much shoulder to shoulder. Owner Mike Sena called in extra servers for the expected packed house, and they scurried along what was left of aisleways balancing plates of portobello burgers, burritos, and taco salads on their fingertips.
The audience for the evening was mature, including a number of graybeards and heads of hair streaked with wisdom’s silver filaments–some of them passers-through, but most being those who have made Cuenca their home. I continue to be surprised and impressed with the vitality and participatory spirit of Cuenca’s expatriate community. So, it is no wonder that these folks, too, were among those scrunched into this venue fit more for Lilliputians than full-sized hominids.
We had had the pleasure of watching and listening to Peter Nolan play when we were in Cuenca at this time last year. Nolan is from Alberta but spent quite a bit of time living in Mississippi studying the blues. He plays his acoustic guitar with passion and sings the same way.
Joe Brett, on the other hand, has one foot in blues and one foot in a kind of country rock. On the blues side, he performed Polk Salad Annie (Tony Joe White, 1968), a southern blues piece with a bit of Cajun spice; on the country side, he played Lay Down Sally (Eric Clapton, 1977), a country rock piece with blues overtones, according to Wikipedia (as I’m not a music critic, I rely on the zillions of bits and bytes of the cyberspace knowledge base for my expertise in these matters).
Not until my late 60s did I begin to attend live concerts. Imagine that–me–a product of the original rock ‘n’ roll generation, waiting all these years to hear this great music in person. I am finding that attending live performances induces a link not only between me and the music, but also among everyone else who is there. The songs reverberate among us, pique our emotions, stimulate our primeval rhythms, and bind us together with words and notes and riffs like some kind of giant molecule of music appreciation.
The mini-venue of the Inca Lounge also added to the evening’s enjoyment by creating an intimate atmosphere. When I think about it, people from locations around the globe came together in this tiny place for a couple of hours in the mountains of Ecuador to experience a fundamentally human phenomenon–the creation of music–and then evaporated into the evening.