Hardcore Andalusian psychobilly blues
If the Spanish town of Úbeda had its own rogues gallery honouring the misfits and outlaws whose boots had scuffed its dusty ground, three ‘Wanted’ posters would surely hang; a trio of mug shots simply referred to as ‘Guadalupe Plata’ – the most deathly delta blues outfit to ever emerge from Andalusia.
“Our name comes from our hometown’s patron, the virgin of Guadalupe, so she protects us as we play the devil’s music,” they say. “Our music inhabits that place in our collective imagination where the demonic force straddles the blues and cante jondo.”
Make no mistake - the music of Guadalupe Plata derives from the murkiest of depths. Channelling red hot passion for the blues into Hispanic roots, theirs is a sound that lingers in the sunset like a voodoo curse. Using flamenco terms, they describe their process as straining to be podrío; to be rotten, and talk of “involution,” “duende,” and “hechizo” - supernatural terms of invocation, and, well, goblins. But then again, that’s what you’d expect - concocted in a town famed as a location for Spaghetti Westerns, the band’s unique blues sits like a cowboy soundtrack pulled from a zombie’s grasp by the Mississippi Blues greats, Os Mutantes, and Jon Spencer.
It is a pounding sound, blending blues, bebop and rockabilly to the Andalusian tradition, which draws from Romany, Sephardic and Moorish strains of music. Lyrically casting spells via a curious mythology centred around dogs, the devil, Christ, rats, black snakes and cats, where all the lovers are Frankie and Johnny. It bewitches listeners who may have never walked Úbeda's mean streets, as it is possessed by the sense of space, sex and the magic of the night which belongs to both rock'n'roll and blue-collar folk art.
“We’ve listened to every kind of musical style since we started playing,” they say. “In the beginning we listened to psychedelia and 60s blues. From Canned Heat we went backwards; our sound arises from an chemical experiment that mixes the edge of Hound Dog Taylor’s well wheel, Skip James’ darkness, Jon Lee Hooker’s hypnotic rhythms, Screaming Jay Hawkins craziness, Tampa Red’s sweetness, Elmore James’ killer slide and Son House’s essence.”
Whilst it’d seem Guadalupe Plata’s underground origins couldn’t be further removed from Spanish tradition, the band equally draw on music closer to home – something that has solidified the band as stars in their home country and Mexico. From the fast and furious punk kids Los Bengalas, the infinitely inventive blues duo Crudo Pimento, Seville’s own Pata Negra, Mexican composer José Alfredo Jimenez, and legendary flamenco guitarist Sabicas exiled from Spain after the Civil War. It’s a musical journey that has seen the trio perform hundred of gigs each year since they formed in 2007, everywhere from working men clubs to strip joints, not to mention the odd trip to a graveyard in between (an interpretation of which can be seen on the album’s cover, felt tipped by guitarist and singer Pedro:
“Before playing at Mississippi’s Deep Blues Festival, the organiser took us to the resting place of T Model Ford because he had a hobby of visiting the graves of legendary bluesmen to create rubbings of their gravestones.... Paco knocked over a flowerpot on the grave and a troop of carnivorous ants emerged and attacked us as if they were sent by T Model Ford himself, like we were cursed straight from the grave.”
A band for which convention is a dirty word, it is only right that irregular methods create their distinctive tribal sound. Whether hammering out a rhythm on a handcrafted cigar box, a whisky bottle and old cans of coffee late at night, or combining traditional blues guitar riffs and jazz drumming with an electrified wash tub; their own take on the 19h century style instrument consisting a zinc basin sound box, a wooden stick which came from Úbeda's graveyard and a chainsaw starter rope.
Laid down as live to eight track tape in Liam Watson’s Toerag Studios, it’s an album that begins with a barometric pressure; it crackles and spits, then the howling begins. Let Guadalupe Plata take you on one hell of a psychedelic trip.
Guadalupe Plata are: Pedro de Dios Barceló ("Perico") - guitar, vocals, piano. Carlos Jimena Quesada ("Jimena") – Drums, percussion and piano. Francisco Luis Martos Sanchez ("Paco Luis") - washtub bass, electric bass, guitar and piano.