Señor Bolero

Happy Valentine’s Day
I first heard Jose Feliciano in 1962 or 1963 at the Newport Folk Festival.  I was a small teenager trying to figure out too many puzzles in my confused life.  I was struggling with mastering the guitar: a challenge that can take a lifetime, and  deservedly so.

Needless to say Jose was great and a inspiration. At that point I was fixated on black guitarists of an earlier era such as Reverend Gary Davis and Big Bill Broonzy (and still am to some extent). But here was a man slightly older than me who played the hell out of whatever musical style he tried that day, some Latin songs and some familiar ballads. As I continued to study the guitar  and started performing in Manhattan I caught an occasional  set or  performance by Jose. Since his career blasted off around then the venue were no longer intimate. He played at the Central Park Skating Rink  in the summer  of probably 65 or 64, it was a double bill I recall he was opening for a more famous act.  And he dared to play one number on electric guitar which was a traditional mambo that became famous at that time via another act. But  his skill on the classical guitar was just inspirational.  His riffs were like precise layers of melodious sounds in the  hot summer ether around us.

At this point in my life I can no longer play my beloved guitar but I still am captivated by great guitar players and complete musicians as I strived to become.  Before my stroke, I finally allowed myself to accept that I was a good player and enjoyed the sounds that my technique spun.– an issue that haunted me most of my life.

What sparked this recollection? I just heard a cut from “Jose Feliciano – Señor Bolero” on NPR and today picked up the CD. It is everything I love about this player and artist. He is still powerful as always to me, and speaks from the universal corazon.

About Andy Polon

Long time professional guitarist. Currently a computer techie. I came of age in the 1960s. (Successfully avoided being drafted for the Vietnam War). Raised in a "left of center" cultural household. I was very lucky in that Manhattan was a true melting pot. Lost my use of my right hand and arm in late 2003, due to a TBI Still love singing and older songs.
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2 Responses to Señor Bolero

  1. Yvonne says:

    Your voice was meant to be heard in print, well virtual ink! I will always be your rapt audience, but your stories and observations, especially about musicians, are too good to be kept from the rest of the world. Share on!

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