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HomeNewsArchives'PUNK GYPSY' BRINGS FLAMENCO TO ST. THOMAS

'PUNK GYPSY' BRINGS FLAMENCO TO ST. THOMAS

Jan. 11, 2002 – When people who relocate to the Virgin Islands invite their friends back home to come for a couple weeks' visit, it's not usually to perform in public.
But not everyone has a flamenco song-and-dance duo as friends.
It happens that St. Thomas resident Paul Deaton, a freelance videographer and drummer with the group Lightnin' Phil and the Low-Pressure Band, does. And he did invite them to come to the islands — and they're here at the moment making the rounds appearing at various venues.
Guitarist Teye (pronounced "Ty-yah") is from The Netherlands. His wife and partner, dancer Belen Oliva Bermudez, is from Sevilla, Spain. Teye moved to Austin, Texas, in 1995; they were married in 1996. He met Deaton there when "Paul was taping an interview that a mutual friend was making of me, and we struck up a friendship. After Paul moved to the Virgin Islands, we were all very sad. But he said, 'Look at the good side — now you have a reason to visit the islands.'"
They came down not only to see an old friend but also because Deaton was able "to find us a bunch shows, which have been going great," Teye said. More bookings have come about since their arrival, as word of the duo's crowd-pleasing ways has gotten around the island.
Teye started studying guitar as a child and moved into playing with pop-rock bands in high school and then London. Then he enrolled in a Dutch music conservatory to study classical guitar and hitch-hiked to Spain's Andalucia region, where he was soon hanging out with gypsies who taught him flamenco and gave him the nickname El Gitano Punky — the "punk-rock gypsy."
In 1988 he released his first solo CD, titled "El Gitano Punky" — one of the first flamenco solo guitar albums ever made by a non-Spaniard, his web site states. After winning a Dutch national guitar competition, he went to Cordoba, where he trained with and then performed with the gypsy company of his "guitar guru," Juan Munoz Planton. Then he went back to Holland, where he graduated with honors from the Rotterdam Conservatory of Music.
While enjoying a successful career in Europe, he traveled to Texas to start recording with Joe Ely, an Austin singer/songwriter. Ely's 1995 album "Letter to Laredo" featuring Teye on flamenco guitar won raves. While continuing to tour and record with Ely, he and Bermudez started in Austin what would become a widely acclaimed performing company, "Teye and Viva el Flamenco." That was also the title of Teye's first U.S. album, which came out in 1999 to great acclaim and was also released in Europe.
Nowadays, he says, "a good deal of the year is working around Texas," but last year they did a tour of Spain, The Netherlands and Italy and another just in Italy, while also performing in Mexico. Viva el Flamenco "is sometimes four people, sometimes three, sometimes two," Teye said. "And sometimes it's seven. The show is basically guitar and dance, so Belen and I cover that, but there's also the percussion."
A Dutchman transplanted to Texas taking flamenco to Southern Spain? A clear case of "coals to Newcastle," but Teye says he and his troupe "were well received. It was very gratifying."
He says the flamenco music that he performs — actually he uses the verb "sings," but then explains that "I let the guitar do the singing" — encompasses both traditional forms such as granadinas, soleares and bulerias and contemporary songs.
"We do contemporary, but absolutely not along commercial lines," he said. "It's authentic, whereas The Gypsy Kings, for example, do only the rhumba. But we don't stick to the more limited harmonies that are the traditional forms; we do use the music of 'today' gypsies."
This is the couple's first visit to St. Thomas. Several years ago, they were on St. Croix for a day off a ship where Teye was playing with Ely on a "blues cruise."
Here in the territory he is playing "a very good mid-range guitar" and also an oud,, "an ancient Arab lute, the prototype of wooden stringed instruments." He says the oud "is very appropriate" for his music: "Flamenco has a very Arabic, Moorish influence, along with the gypsy part. I'm able to put a very authentic stamp on it."
A week ago the two performed at the "Friday Night Alternative" gathering at American Yacht Harbor. This past week they were at Latitude 18 on Monday and then were featured Wednesday at noon and evening Rotary Club meetings, at Marriott's Frenchman's Reef Beach Resort and the Ritz-Carlton Resort.
Friday night, they were back at the Ritz-Carlton for a public performance. Saturday, they'll be at the Hard Rock Café in Charlotte Amalie. Monday, they return to Latitude 18, and next Friday they'll be back for another "Friday Night Alternative." Then on Jan. 19 they'll move to Molly Molones and on Jan. 20 they will return again to the Ritz.
Showtime is 8 p.m. everywhere except Latitude 18, where it's at 7:30 p.m., Teye said. How long they perform "depends on the audience," he said. "We could do two hours, two and a half."
Last week, Deaton ended up sitting in with them on percussion at Latitude 18, and they were invited to play at Molly Molones, where the Low Pressure Band performs regularly, between sets by the band.
To learn lots more about the duo, visit their web site, titled "Teye and Viva el Flamenco". It has information not only about Teye and Bermudez but also about others who perform with them. Plus, Teye noted, the page was designed "to be a resource for people who would like to learn more" about the flamenco genre, with some 20 links, many of them to other links.

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Jan. 11, 2002 - When people who relocate to the Virgin Islands invite their friends back home to come for a couple weeks' visit, it's not usually to perform in public.
But not everyone has a flamenco song-and-dance duo as friends.
It happens that St. Thomas resident Paul Deaton, a freelance videographer and drummer with the group Lightnin' Phil and the Low-Pressure Band, does. And he did invite them to come to the islands -- and they're here at the moment making the rounds appearing at various venues.
Guitarist Teye (pronounced "Ty-yah") is from The Netherlands. His wife and partner, dancer Belen Oliva Bermudez, is from Sevilla, Spain. Teye moved to Austin, Texas, in 1995; they were married in 1996. He met Deaton there when "Paul was taping an interview that a mutual friend was making of me, and we struck up a friendship. After Paul moved to the Virgin Islands, we were all very sad. But he said, 'Look at the good side -- now you have a reason to visit the islands.'"
They came down not only to see an old friend but also because Deaton was able "to find us a bunch shows, which have been going great," Teye said. More bookings have come about since their arrival, as word of the duo's crowd-pleasing ways has gotten around the island.
Teye started studying guitar as a child and moved into playing with pop-rock bands in high school and then London. Then he enrolled in a Dutch music conservatory to study classical guitar and hitch-hiked to Spain's Andalucia region, where he was soon hanging out with gypsies who taught him flamenco and gave him the nickname El Gitano Punky -- the "punk-rock gypsy."
In 1988 he released his first solo CD, titled "El Gitano Punky" -- one of the first flamenco solo guitar albums ever made by a non-Spaniard, his web site states. After winning a Dutch national guitar competition, he went to Cordoba, where he trained with and then performed with the gypsy company of his "guitar guru," Juan Munoz Planton. Then he went back to Holland, where he graduated with honors from the Rotterdam Conservatory of Music.
While enjoying a successful career in Europe, he traveled to Texas to start recording with Joe Ely, an Austin singer/songwriter. Ely's 1995 album "Letter to Laredo" featuring Teye on flamenco guitar won raves. While continuing to tour and record with Ely, he and Bermudez started in Austin what would become a widely acclaimed performing company, "Teye and Viva el Flamenco." That was also the title of Teye's first U.S. album, which came out in 1999 to great acclaim and was also released in Europe.
Nowadays, he says, "a good deal of the year is working around Texas," but last year they did a tour of Spain, The Netherlands and Italy and another just in Italy, while also performing in Mexico. Viva el Flamenco "is sometimes four people, sometimes three, sometimes two," Teye said. "And sometimes it's seven. The show is basically guitar and dance, so Belen and I cover that, but there's also the percussion."
A Dutchman transplanted to Texas taking flamenco to Southern Spain? A clear case of "coals to Newcastle," but Teye says he and his troupe "were well received. It was very gratifying."
He says the flamenco music that he performs -- actually he uses the verb "sings," but then explains that "I let the guitar do the singing" -- encompasses both traditional forms such as granadinas, soleares and bulerias and contemporary songs.
"We do contemporary, but absolutely not along commercial lines," he said. "It's authentic, whereas The Gypsy Kings, for example, do only the rhumba. But we don't stick to the more limited harmonies that are the traditional forms; we do use the music of 'today' gypsies."
This is the couple's first visit to St. Thomas. Several years ago, they were on St. Croix for a day off a ship where Teye was playing with Ely on a "blues cruise."
Here in the territory he is playing "a very good mid-range guitar" and also an oud,, "an ancient Arab lute, the prototype of wooden stringed instruments." He says the oud "is very appropriate" for his music: "Flamenco has a very Arabic, Moorish influence, along with the gypsy part. I'm able to put a very authentic stamp on it."
A week ago the two performed at the "Friday Night Alternative" gathering at American Yacht Harbor. This past week they were at Latitude 18 on Monday and then were featured Wednesday at noon and evening Rotary Club meetings, at Marriott's Frenchman's Reef Beach Resort and the Ritz-Carlton Resort.
Friday night, they were back at the Ritz-Carlton for a public performance. Saturday, they'll be at the Hard Rock Café in Charlotte Amalie. Monday, they return to Latitude 18, and next Friday they'll be back for another "Friday Night Alternative." Then on Jan. 19 they'll move to Molly Molones and on Jan. 20 they will return again to the Ritz.
Showtime is 8 p.m. everywhere except Latitude 18, where it's at 7:30 p.m., Teye said. How long they perform "depends on the audience," he said. "We could do two hours, two and a half."
Last week, Deaton ended up sitting in with them on percussion at Latitude 18, and they were invited to play at Molly Molones, where the Low Pressure Band performs regularly, between sets by the band.
To learn lots more about the duo, visit their web site, titled "Teye and Viva el Flamenco". It has information not only about Teye and Bermudez but also about others who perform with them. Plus, Teye noted, the page was designed "to be a resource for people who would like to learn more" about the flamenco genre, with some 20 links, many of them to other links.