Absorbing the Aire

Jon Banuelos playing a house party My musical journey began on the road in Europe. At eighteen years of age I ventured out on a 9 month backpacking trip to broaden my horizons and explore the foreign. Little did I know that I would be exploring my inner world as well. Through my trip I kept on getting a visual image of a guitar. A guitar that I have never seen before nor had the desire to play but as I walked this tiny desire grew into a larger one, telling me that when I get home to buy a guitar and learn to play it.

At nineteen I bought my first guitar and with three chords my new path was laid out in front of me. I struggled those first few months, trying to find the right chords, make new ones and let the music take me somewhere new. It certainly did, for one day when a friend brought me a disc to hear, I finally found what I was looking for. That disc was of a man named Sabicas. Upon Listening to him play the guitar, the sounds the technique and the passion made me stop my search and start playing flamenco. I devoured that CD and others from Paco de lucia to the gypsy kings, trying to understand the Flamenco sound. Later that Year The movie “ Flamenco” by Carlos Saura came out and I was totally hooked. That is all I wanted, to learn Flamenco, to live like those Gypsies that this beautiful yet dark music comes from.

At 20 I met my first Flamenco guitar Teacher and another journey took place. Ismael Barajas took me from knowing nothing to playing the guitar. He taught more than just Flamenco but Jazz, Classical and some Bossa Nova, Different styles to help me build a career as a musician. I played with him and his Latin Jazz band in Tucson Arizona for Three years and we released a Live CD titled Live form the Grill. Those three years were very important informative years in my career for I learned more than just guitar I learned deep life lessons that still help me today.

From Tucson I studied In New York City at the American Institute of Guitar under Jose Ramos and spread my wings into the many parks and subway stations of the city, cleaning up my chops and soaking up the city, but most of all gearing up to go to Spain. With a lot of music under my belt I had this burning desire to learn Flamenco. In the year 2002 I spent 9 months on Jerez de la Frontera Spain, Absorbing the Aire and the culture of Andalucia. I loved it so much I returned later that year and spent 3 more years just soaking it up. My teacher were Jose Luis Balao, El Carbonero , Jooko, Juan Diego and Parrilla De Jerez. I was also fortunate to perform many clubs in Jerez and on the Island of Menorca.

My experience in Spain was one that is still hard to put into words but I try to put it in my music. The best part is that I became a Jerezano for that time period, absorbing the culture through song and dance, ferias, fiestas and the late late nights that bring out the duende form the birds, trees and the pure Naturaleza that only Spain has. I also changed my outlook on Flamenco from a spectacle to something natural, something that on grows up with when they live in Spain and something that cannot be taught but can only be lived.

Since 2006 I have made Tucson Arizona my home base for Life and music and I have been lucky enough to find others here to share and learn from as well as perform flamenco in various restaurants, clubs and bars. Even through all the years I have been in Spain I have this deep desire to play Flamenco and to promote the true essence of the art form. With all the above said I am a musician just starting on a road that I wish to be long and prosperous only to be lucky enough to pass it on to the next curious musician wanting to express what’s in side. I Love music in all shapes and forms and like the duke said” it don’t mean a thing if ain’t got that swing” or as flamencos say “Aire”.

Jon Bañuelos

Leave a Reply