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It had been the most satisfying of my experiences in Chile as in Scotland and all thanks to the ability of playing some Spanish guitar, have a rather decent voice to sing and a conviction to achieve something in music to do proper solidarity and cultural work for Chile in Scotland specially during the Pinochet's dictatorship.
Solidarity singing in Scotland
I was never a professional musician, that is, making a living out of music. I have put, however, my musicality and my energy to write songs and perform them under my own terms. The most beautiful thing I have ever done in music had been to meet my wife. The most interesting thing had been to work for a little while,with the 7:84 Theatre Co. I learned quite a lot from this highly Professional and political theatre Co. With them we toured England and Scotland and went twice to Canada. I have done many solo concerts and performing in radio shows many times.
I am a self-taught musician and singer
I play Spanish guitar, Bolivian
Charango, Venezuelan Cuatro, Colombian Triple and a bit of Bolivian Quena.
I have written about 50 songs. I have been singing in Scotland for more
than 35 years, becoming perhaps the oldest Latin-American performer in Scotland.
I perform in two ways: by invitation (that is when I am invited to give
a proper concert or when I am invited to play and sing as a participant
of a cultural or a political event) or when I decide to organise my own
concert.). I always sing in Spanish.
My music and style have been inspired by the
great Chilean folklorists, Violeta Parra, Victor Jara and by the "New
Song" movement of the Americas of the 60s and 70s. My music also
has been shaped by important events in recent Chilean history: The Presidency
of Salvador Allende (1970-1973) and the Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990).
As I have been exposed to the Scottish folk scene I have also been some way influenced
by Scotland musical heritage.
has the kind of voice that could chant the Santiago telephone directory
and still tug the listener". Alastair Clark, The Scotsman".
promote other peoples' music
songs and music of Chileans songwriters Violeta Parra, Victor Jara,
Patricio Manns, and of the Chilean band Inti-illimani have always been
part of my repertoire. I also sung songs by Argentinean Atahualpa Yupanqui,
Leon Gieco, Mercedes Sosa, and a few songs by Cuban Silvio Rodriguez.
I also sing Chilean traditional songs and from the Latin American repertoire.
Also sing songs from what we call in Chile "El repertoire popular"
("the "Popular Repertoire") : boleros, tangos, Peruvian
waltzes, and love songs.
always encouraged my good friend, the Chilean classical guitarist Galo
Ceron to play in cultural events organized by me to play the music of
Latin-American composers such as Heitor Villalobos, Aztor Piazzolla,
Manuel Ponce, Agustin Barrio, Antonio Lauro, Leo Brower, Alberto Ginastera.
have always encouraged to have in my cultural activities, Scottish musicians
and singers. I have performed all over Scotland, in Britain and abroad
- in Chile, Peru, Canada, Italy and Sweden. I have performed many times
in live shows for BBC radio ("Travelling Folk", "The
Usual Suspects", Burns Supper celebrations, etc.). In December
2003 I feature for a half hour BBC radio programme called The World
on our Streets".
Music making in Chile
come to my ears naturally and since early days I began to write songs
and to dream of singing in a band. With Ivan, Perico and José we
formed "Los Eclipses": we used to have false wood instruments
and none of us played any instruments. In 1967 I went to work at Tizona,
a guitar factory based in my neighborhood and soon I began to learn to
play the guitar. I was very happy.
Tizona used to sponsor a well known
radio programme called "Chaparron" presented by a nice spectacled
man called Juan La Rivera. Tizona's, owner Don Leonardo Rodriguez Dummont
, asked Juanito to have me in his programme. He accepted it. My friends
on the barrio listened to "Chaparron" and congratulated me for
my performance. One listener girl heard me singing on the radio and wrote
to me saying that she had enjoyed my songs and asked me to put music to
some lyrics she had written. It seemed that she was an argentine girl
living in the Chilean port of San Antonio. I kept her letter. I wanted
to register and record my song and Juanito kindly asked Valentin Trujillo,
a famous Chilean pianist and orchestra director, to help this" Tizona
worker" consisting in putting my songs into notations. Don Valentin
responded positively to Juanito's request. In my neighborhood people
knew my songs and neither could I, my friends, Don Leonardo, Juanito la
Rivera or Valentin Trujillo imagine that one day I was going to be singing
and playing in Scotland and other places.
The radio and TV
presenter Juanito La Rivera
trying to help me
Tizona- the guitar factory
I am with my work mates
and Godfrey Stevens,
the great Chilean
boxer of the 70s.
The well known Chilean
musical director and pianist Valentin Trujillo also try to helpme. Everything came
to nothing because of the
bloody coup in 1973
Don Leonardo Rodriguez,
owner of Tizona, with
Raphael,one of the most
famous Spanish singer
in the 70s.
Music making in Edinburgh.
The Manuel Rodriguez Group (1978 onwards)
When I arrived in Edinburgh from Glasgow, where I had arrived in September of 1974, there was already a vibrant community of exiles and among them dancers, singers and musicians performing in Edinburgh (The Figueroa sisters, Gabriel, Angelica and others).
I formed a group with Zunilda, Ramiro, Gabriel, and Giovanna, we called our group Manuel Rodriguez and together we did a lot of solidarity work in Scotland and England in the areas of Newcastle and Durham.
Teresa was our magnificent driver and was she who used to take us to our destinations using her own car packed with instruments. Teresa was from Treviso in Italy. One member of our group, Gabriel, built his own charango. We enjoyed ourselves very much.
See Manuel Rodriguez Gallery.
When the Manuel Rodriguez group disbanded I began to sing alone and I did it for a long time. Since the 80s I began to play music with Chilean guitarist Galvarino Ceron and since then we have done many things together.
We were young