The verbenas orchestras have been without working for more than a year or working slowly. Some musicians and technicians have had to take advantage of the ERTE, others desperately seek jobs outside the sector or reinvent musical shows so that, instead of dancing and letting themselves go, the Show can be enjoyed sitting down and without crowds. The workers of the orchestras saw possible to lift the flight this summer, but the bad data and the hardening of the measures is causing them to drop the dates of performance, and that the city councils and celebration boards are not encouraged to hire.
Miguel Caldas is the singer and manager of the Solara Orchestra. His family was already of “musical tradition” and he made his debut very young with the saxophone in his uncle’s orchestra. Solara is made up of eight musicians and four singers. “The festivals and festivals of the towns are a tradition of many years ago. It is an excuse to reconnect with family and friends. It is cultural to return to your town and celebrate life and celebrate,” says Caldas while telling us that In Galicia, in almost all the municipalities they have their own music bands or music schools, and that “it is very Galician to go to the festival, celebrate the saints and enjoy live music.”
Caldas tells us that in Galicia and in the north of Castilla y León there is a long tradition among the residents of setting up a festival commission that is voluntarily in charge of organizing: “They pass by the houses or businesses to make a popular collection, they contact a representative of the area and hire what suits them best. The orchestras go with their own truck-stage, which has been a bit crazy because a lot of money has been invested in the trailers, the screens, the spotlights, on the moving sets. There has been a lot of investment in very spectacular and expensive mobile stages because there was a lot of work and business at the fairs and parties. ”
The Solara Orchestra is specialized in dance music: merengue, cumbias, rancheras and bachatas. Elvis Crespo and ‘Suavemente’ are not lacking in the repertoire. “The pasodobles are also not lacking, here even young people dance and enjoy them. And we also take ballads by Bisbal, we make some arrangements and we play it like cumbia.” Miguel Caldas enjoys singing and dancing for grandparents, daughters, and grandchildren. The public is intergenerational and the square, a shared space between neighbors, friends and countrymen. The fairs and festivals had lots of lights and marching, classic songs, modern dance steps like zumba, excuses to take your grandmother and dance “agarrao”. Until the pandemic stopped everything, and left the workers of the festival without the possibility of making a living.
Caldas says that they went from working all year – although there are groups that work only six months and live off it the rest of the year – to not being able to work at all: “It has been frustrating and desperate. This summer it seemed that things were going to improve. , there are only 12 or 13 orchestras in Galicia that are going to be able to do something. In fact, to be able to go out to work an investment of about 7000 euros is required to pay the civil liability insurance, permits and register the musicians There are many groups that have been ruined and cannot even face the first step to go out to play. ” City councils and party committees have not just decided to bet on orchestras either.
From ‘The penguin dance’ to ‘I would not hesitate’
In Galicia there are 20 or 30 orchestras, of about 200 that Miguel Calda counts, that move a lot of people and even have fan clubs and they follow them on their tours as if they were stars. One of them is the Paris de Noia orchestra, of about 200 shows by year. This summer they have very few dates, but as the singer Lucía Sánchez tells us, “something is something”: “I have been since 2019 without stopping, I lived at night, always from one place to another, I have not stopped traveling and singing. Three hours of acting are very physical, you have to move and dance and give your all. When they forced us to stop I had muscle aches from how tired my body was. The worst was mentally, it became very hard for me, my life was the orchestra ” .
Lucia Sánchez is very proud to belong to one of the leading bands in Spain: “The colleagues from other groups are having a very bad time because there are no contracts. There are many musicians working as warehouse workers, supermarket cashiers or construction sites. And above all, a lot of unemployed people, throwing away savings and family aid. Between the ERTE and a couple of TV shows we are supporting ourselves, but this cannot be prolonged for long. ” Sánchez has sought to be the image of two businesses to have other income “because the pace of work before this summer is not going to be possible.”
The Paris de Noia orchestra has changed the show to adapt to the measures against COVID-19: “Before we wanted people to not stop dancing. Now, that they do not get up from their chairs. So we have changed the ‘Sua, sua ‘or’ El baile del penüino ‘and other merengue and salsa songs for themes such as’ El lugar de mi recreo’ or ‘No doubt’ “. The Show it is more visual, they have hired acrobats, there are more stage movements and, above all, the dance repertoire is left for another year.
Left with nothing
The Titanic Group is a company that works in the Valencian Community selling shows. Paco Muñoz has been a commercial for ten years, his job is “to sell orchestras and records to party commissions.” They have their own orchestra, Titanic Orchestra, but they represent ten more. “We have been unemployed for a year. I am working as a bricklayer, it has been very, very hard. Before the summer we had quite a few sponsored concerts, but now they are backing down. Orchestras have not sold any, because they fear crowds and crowded dances And it is not conceivable to see an orchestra sitting down. What they had hired us is musical theater. ”
Paco Muñoz says that there are musicians “who have been left with nothing, because those who were hired by the companies are the minimum. The musicians were hired by performance, so they have not been able to benefit from the ERTE”. Muñoz emphasizes that this year with the Titanic Orchestra they have only played one gig. The orchestra of the singer Dalia Sánchez, Stereo, has not worked any day, he tells us: “We are prepared in case they call us, in case something comes out that we can take advantage of. Unfortunately we have had to reconvert our professional facet and look for other jobs. You can’t live from music right now. Art is dead. Right now I’m a secretary for a transport company, but looking forward to going back to my job from the last 11 years. ”
The Kalima orchestra is a classic in the town fairs and festivals of the Costa del Sol. The four musicians make people dance up to over 40 degrees in the sun. They have been performing in the same towns and festivals for many years, and the arrival of the van with their name (and the instruments inside) warns that the procession in honor of the patron, plus the dance that follows is imminent. Kalima had not played his mythical ‘Chirulai’ since confinement, but these days at the Estepona fair, the musicians, very excited, have been reunited with their followers.
Meanwhile, in a small town in the Serranía de Ronda called Cuevas del Becerro, the residents wonder if this year the Kalima will be able to come. “The Kalima were like spring, it always came. Last summer was very hard, without Kalima and without seeing our people, because that’s what the fair is, the excuse to hug and dance with the people you love and don’t see during the year “, assures a neighbor of the town.