On stage in Victoria, BC 2007

Diverse musicians feature international flavors of guitar
by John Wirt (music critic)

JAN 11th, 2008

Toronto-based flamenco guitarist Miguel de la Bastide is a new edition to the International Guitar Night lineup. The touring guitar festival began in the 1990s when San Francisco finger-style guitarist Brian Gore brought guitarists of different genres together into a single show. International Guitar Night comes to Baton Rouge Wednesday for a concert at the Manship Theatre. De la Bastide and Gore will be joined by Madagascan guitarist D'Gary and British player Clive Carroll.

De la Bastide was thrilled when Gore invited him to join.

"Because I never really played with guitarists from different genres, at least at the caliber that these guys are," he said from Toronto last week following a long day of teaching flamenco guitar students. "It was an opportunity for me to really stretch out and try to assimilate some things."

Gore had been in the market for a flamenco player, a specialized style of playing that began with the gypsies of Spain.

"It's not the easiest thing to play, so there are not many of us around," de la Bastide said. "And from what Brian told me, this is the most diverse International Guitar Night group so far. Every one of us is so different."

De la Bastide is a native of Trinidad. His godfather introduced him to the guitar.

"And I was always attracted to the guitar after that," he said. "But there was one particular time, I was watching television in Trinidad and there was a guitarist named Paco de Lucia. He totally blew my mind. At that point, I had to play flamenco."

Moving to Canada at 18, de la Bastide found resident flamenco teachers but also sought advice from touring flamenco artists.

"And then I went to Spain," he said. "There's no other way of learning it, actually."

De la Bastide embarked upon his Spanish sojourn in his late 20s.

"I'd already played quite a bit by then, but I needed to be in the culture," he explained.

Four years in Spain helped the guitarist clarify flamenco music's relationship to flamenco dance.

"I basically went to confirm a lot of things that I observed, predominantly with the songs, what they call the cante," he recalled. "So I spent more of my time accompanying the cante and the dance, because it is one of those prerequisites that you need before you can even play solo guitar. Solos must reflect the cante and be part of it. It's not just a bag of tricks. "

De la Bastide found what he'd been searching for in Spain.

"I had some really good teachers there. I just know them by nicknames, mostly, and I've played with many artists from Spain since then. You learn a lot all along the way, because everybody plays flamenco a little differently."