Thursday, June 22, 2006

Old Valpo's other names

Old Valpo or Vallipo was the name given by sailors to Valparaiso. It was one of the main sailortowns that gathered peoples from all over the world in the so called puerto section of town.
A hundred years ago, sailing ships still called this harbour as home town and their crews usually lived for a while in the sailortown portion of Valpo. Most of these sailors came from the western european shores, and with them their musical traditions. One of these traditions born on board was the shanty singing, working songs that had a mixture of folk european rhythms plus a beat of african Caribbean. A number of them name Valpo and even a few tell stories about it and its people during that age. For example, the hilltops such as those above cerros Alegre (Pleasant), and Cordillera were called as the ship's mats portions.... Fore, main, and mizentop with the main throughfare around which sailorpubs, brothels and boarding houses were situated called Gafftop's street by this same crews.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Shanties et Valpo

A couple of decades ago I was surprised to discover in a folk festival in the States, english folk songs that told stories happening in my hometown, Valparaiso, Chile. These were Shanties, sea songs, mostly in English, and also French and German that recalls the time when working sailing ships made long roundtrips whose main south Pacific "entrepot" and stopover was the city port of Valparaiso. So earlier on, many oral lyrics developed through the XIX century leaving more than a few reminders dedicated to this sailortown.
Some years ago, I collected what shanties I got at the time and wrote some articles for local newspapers and reviews.... e.g.

In the process, we started our first festival and, our first european invited guest artist was a singer shantyman, Joe Stead, who gave us some of the first real hand outs and musical ideas about this forgotten tradition in Chile, especially from somebody who knew well the last real working shantyman, Stan Hugill. His CD Valparaiso Round the Horn, is a clear example and his lectures on the long saling trip to Chile were really a big plus for all of us neophites, living at the same seaport that gathered so many shantymen during the golden sailing years...

Well, now the celtic band La Montaña gris, from Medellin, Colombia has adapted some of these shanties to their own style, and now they are about to record one that I recollected for them a few years ago to be sung in Valparaiso. A french farewell sea song called Adieu Valparaiso, with the music of Auld Lang Syne. Now, this band is coming back to Valpo for our Festival next October hopefully with their new CD...... more news later on....
Si vous voulez de pratiquer chansons de mer en francais..... le proche url peut etre une example:

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Plectrum in Valparaiso

Through the years I have collected a number of plectrum instruments that were used and are still played by chilean folk bands and estudiantinas, many rescued and restored from old houses around Valparaiso, and since a few years ago also traded around the web worldwide. Besides the most ubiquitous instruments such as guitars, mandolins and banjos.... very few people I guess would be able to name the other instruments.... My current collection includes new additions such as a hammered dulcimer and a Coimbra fado guitar not in the picture above, soon to be recorded in our new project by the banda celtamericana.
More at:

Valpo's Trad.Folk Festival

We start writing this blog to comment news about subjects we are involved such as cultural affaires, festivals, music, musical instruments and history related to the cityport where we live, Valparaiso.
Our current main working projects are:
-Festival Internacional de Música Inmigrante de Valparaiso (FIMIV)
-Banda celtamericana
-Clan celta
-Shanties and plectrum instruments
-Adoquin and urban geology

Since 2003 we organise with the aid of the Fundación Valparaíso and DuocUC a small gathering of musicians and artists in a folk festival that celebrates music in the old port of Valparaiso, Chile.
We just had our final time table set for the festival we organise here in Valparaiso a couple of weeks ago.... Maybe some of you are looking forward to visit Chile and this old port where we celebrate these traditions after fiestas patrias (independence holidays) set for the end of September or beginning of October date when our festival starts.... Here, we have been working on hard for the IV festival we are going to do this year in Valpo from October 6th to 8th. Also, there is a working proposal to visit other cities with some of the participating musicians like the port of Coquimbo, where recently we had a show and parade with sponsorship of the British Council (
The people liked so much what we did there, that they want to support another venue as a post festival show at the "barrio inglés" (english borough) at the port. They are really interested in the musicians that are coming from abroad.....

Our Festival FIMIV have been growing every year. This year is our VI festival and we have already preselected bands and musicians from Chile, Argentina and overseas....

Our festival this year is due from November 6th to 8th. We are also proposing to do some of more activities with the local chilean american Institut at Valparaiso, as well as we are expecting to get some more venues outside the region for some of the participating artists coming to Valpo.

More info on the earlier IV Festival (October 6th to 8th 2006) may be read at:
Now, with regard to what is due for this year festival programme, it will includes workshops and other school activities, the reason why this festival came to be.... some examples could be read at: (

Now something more on our festival story at: