Luis Delgado Gregory (Linares, 1962) celebrates forty-five years in the world of music in full activity, as founder and member of various Jaén groups: FlamenCubeando, Creole, tied up Y Three Shrugs. A ‘hunk’ sensitive to the utmost whose fingers, also hardened on the computer keyboard, delicately fall on the very short neck of a charango to jaenize the Andean airs of which, with Tiahuanaco (his most legendary creature), was a pioneer in the sea of olive trees.
—You don’t celebrate forty-five years in the world of music every day, Mr. Delgado. Do you plan to emulate those artists who decide to start an anniversary tour or offer a special concert for the anniversary?
—Not this year, 2023 is a bridge year, my challenge is to reach fifty years as a musician. I take as a starting point the year of creation of Tiahuanaco, in 1978, in February. The reality is that, two years before, I was already in what was there at that time (the church choir, a folk music group…), but hey, I take that year as the official date of my beginnings.
—It will not be for lack of repertoire or groups, because they have several active groups…
—I intend to continue moving the four formations that I currently have in the fray and try to start the return of Tiahuanaco, which we all want but we can’t find the moment, almost always for work reasons, not for lack of desire.
—Speaking of Tiahuanaco: if you were born in 1962 and in 1978 you were already singing songs by Calchakis or Illapu, it’s because you were a kid when you started playing charangos, quenas, panpipes and other Andean instruments, right?
—This morning I told Cristina [su esposa]: “I hope they don’t ask me for this interview the same question that they always ask me, why did I choose this music”. At my house you always heard Atahualpa Yupanki, María Dolores Pradera, Los Sabandeños. So, what we had were records and tapes and what arrived here was the little we had, thanks to our friend Pepe, from Pioneros. Between that and the fact that I had a formed duet, at school, with my classmate from Tiahuanaco Juan Moreno (he played the flute and I played the guitar)…
—As you can see, I haven’t asked you the question you were discussing with your wife. The question is that you were talking about a “duete”…
—Yes, in fact he gave us an introduction to Antonio Oliver in a program called the pulse of life, which he did at night and we would play the program’s melody live and make some other music. This was entering Latin American music, with The condor happens, The chogüí bird… Everything that was mainly what reached our ears and from which we could drink.
—And all this in the middle of his adolescence, when his schoolmates and friends from his neighborhood, surely, went to parties, to pop parties.
“At fifteen or sixteen, yes.” We, the guateques, played the flute and had a snack.
—It is clear that his thing has always been popular music, from the roots. Why that genre and not others of international folklore, why Ibero-American?
—We got to this when Juan and I met Antonio Martínez and Paco del Moral, may he rest in peace; We were the first members and founders of Tiahuanaco with Juan Sedeño, who joined a little later, and they already knew something of this music. Paco lived in Switzerland and Latin American music came more easily there than to Spain. He already came with a little clearer ideas and, above all, with more discography, and from there we all drank.
—And Tiahuanaco was conquering new audiences…
—The group evolved, the groups from which we have drunk the most began to arrive, which are Inti Illimani and Illapu; Inti Illimani no longer makes folklore, he makes music with folkloric overtones. They were our sources, these formations had always had six or eight members and we saw that, with four, we fell very short. In the end we have reached seven components in the group.
—And for this adventure, Luis, did you arrive with musical training in your backpack, or was it all based on ear?
—Nothing, nothing, totally self-taught, everything learned by ear, all the companions of Tiahuanaco (except Juan Sedeño, who studied singing) were self-taught.
—The Delgados, your ancestors: family of musicians, or were you the first to ‘give the note’?
—There were no musicians in my family, no, nor in any of the group.
“Speaking of groups. Going back to Tiahuanaco, which is about to celebrate its half century, more than one will wonder how you have endured together for so long around a music that, in many cases, also implies a certain political, ideological tendency.
—Never, and I mean both myself and my companions; It was also difficult to do it in a group where everyone thought in a different way. We weren’t united by politics, we were united by music! I think that this has been the success of Tiahuanaco having been together for so many years. There was no reason to fight, no reason to frame yourself in a certain situation, and that has helped the group, by itself, function for what it was worth: because of how it made music, not for pamphleteering reasons.
—Making music as they have done all these years has also earned them the chance to share the stage with great, very great international musicians…
—I have been lucky, with Tiahuanaco, to share the stage with María Dolores Pradera, Los Sabandeños, Carlos Cano, Alberto Cortez, Rafael Amor, Olga Manzano, Coplanacu, Los Cantores de Quillahuasi, Pancho Figueroa and Polo Román de los Calchaleros (to whom that I accompanied in three concerts as a guitarist), Típico Oriental Cubano, Caridad Hierrezuelo…, and I don’t know how many more!
—Are you aware of having been a source of inspiration for later groups in Jaén?
—The same as we drank from Los Calchakis, Inti-Illimani or Illapu, we made a quarry in some way with all the groups that came out in Jaén over the years of Latin American music and that (from humility), in some way drank from us. That is a pride (it is not vanity).
—They are going to celebrate fifty years on stage but in a sui generis way, because they have not been seen together at the microphone for a long time.
—For these reasons that I say, work reasons. When Tiahuanaco stops playing he doesn’t separate (he stops playing, for work reasons, as I say), from there I start looking for a life. I already combined with Amaranto, a formation in which I spent fifteen years as a requintista, which I founded with three of its current members. When I had been with them for ten or twelve years, I also began to combine with my childrenwhich was my dream, to play with them.
—An illusion more than fulfilled, if one takes into account that you form three different groups today. It is not like this?
—Flamencubeando, which, let’s say, is the matrix from which Criollo is born; Just as Flamencubeando has a flamenco singer (Curro Pérez), Criollo has a tenor, who is Miguel Ángel Ruiz Merino. Then there’s a show tied up, in which the two groups come together, and we can hear a flamenco singer sing the same song on stage with another lyricist. In all formations, the musicians are my children and me. The thing seems to like it.
—That is, it began with Tiahuanaco at the end of the 70s, from then until today the rest of the groups and now, it seeks to resuscitate, resume the mythical formation of Andean music…
—It is that we have never wanted to leave it, they were forced circumstances motivated by work, then by the pandemic…, we had several meetings but when we said to see each other, we could not leave the city, it was impossible.
—Answer, Luis, that at this point in the interview you will have more than one biting their nails: Is Tiahuanaco coming back?
—There must be at least one farewell concert, we have gone French, without saying goodbye. There must be, perhaps, a farewell concert if there is not a comeback, because the young people of the group (Antonio and I remain of the old ones, Juan Sedeño left him and Juan Moreno has lived in Madrid for forty years). They are kids from thirty to forty years old. There is Antonio’s son, who is a great musician; There are my two sons, Luis and Fernando, there are Sebastián, José Mestbailer and Edison Lucero, all great musicians. They are the kids, our children.
—That your children are musicians too, Luis Delgado may be determined to ensure that it was his own vocation but surely the father (that is, you) must have had something to do with it.
—The father and the mother, we have only taken care of putting them in the way (apart from the balls and the Play Station), what you see here: pianos (three pianos), I don’t know how many guitars. Put everything within their reach and yes, a lot of going up and down the Conservatory. What I couldn’t do, we had to do with them. I am satisfied, because in the end I have gone up and down more than if I had studied. There were days that we went up and down four times, twice each.
—Can you imagine a life (your life) without music?
—No, in fact I have a big pending issue right now, which is to get into this room where we are without having a hard time. There was always music in this room, for twenty years of my life. There was always live music here until five years ago, when my children left. And of course, now you come down here, alone, because you have to go down, you do your things, you put together your repertoires…
—However, Luis, his professional life (as a bank employee) has taken other paths, with no more to do with music than the jingling of coins.
—That was thanks to my wife, who put the papers in an envelope, presented me to the oppositions and I saw myself working at La Caixa. I spent thirty-three and a half years there.
—Did you ever regret not dedicating yourself completely to music, of not having made it your livelihood?
—More than a moment I have thought about it, but that was very difficult. I am not telling you that he could not have lived on her, but I am telling you that he would have finished. You always had to have another way out. The music was very difficult and continues to be so, and that is the advice, the encouragement that I have given my children. They have their studies, their work, and they have music as a second profession or a hobby that gives them, of course, its economic benefits, but above all, many joys. Luis has traveled, from here to the Maldives, as far as he is to the right. He would sometimes leave home at three in the afternoon on a Friday, play in Dubai at eleven on Saturday night and be here on Sunday having dinner, or sometimes having lunch. That is what he wanted to instill in them, that they should not have music as a way of life but rather as an apprenticeship; Music not only gives us life, it gives us a way of being, of seeing life, of valuing things and of having feelings that other people don’t say they don’t have, but they are different.
—You have also traveled yours with the guitar on your shoulder, but confess it, Luis: you are a confessed jaenero. That it is not difficult to see him play in the Plaza de la Merced on Holy Mondays, or in the Camarín al Abuelo. You don’t give that up, do you?
—Not much less. There have been years in Los Estudiantes that I first played the guitar in church, at mass before leaving; then to the Virgin in the plaza, then I would change my clothes to get out of the costalero of the last shift and at the end I would go to a balcony and play the hymn with the guitar so that the images would enter, because there was no money for a band.
Photos and video: Esperanza Calzado
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“Tiahuanaco has to offer at least one farewell concert”
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