Aldo Garcia
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Aldo Garcia

Band World Latin


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The best kept secret in music


"Aldo Garcia in Oaxaca"

Nightlife: Aldo Garcia in Oaxaca

August 13, 2005

By Justin Max Bailey

Like some of the avant-garde musicians in New York and L.A., Aldo Garcia plays concerts accompanying, or being accompanied by, an Apple G-4 Powerbook. But Aldo’s not in New York or L.A., and his music isn’t avant-garde—it’s a diverse hodgepodge of world pop with Mexican and Irish indigenous musical overlays and bridges. In the small beach town of Oaxaca in July, Aldo was also accompanied by Marvin Lorenzo Agiss, a 19-year-old with a Fender.

“Estamos practicando,” said Aldo. “It’s a rehearsing vacation.”

Marvin nodded. “We say, ‘give us a place to stay, and some food, and some money, and we will play.’”

The two of them (or if you include the Powerbook, the three of them) played about 8 shows in 10 days when I was on the Oaxaca coast. They played in candlelit bars, in bars with views of the moon over the night ocean, and in bars with crowds of beached-out international youth, dancing wildly. They played at least one concert, in a second-story palapa bar on the beach in Mazunte, that had all of those elements. I wasn’t there, but Marvin told me about it.

“There were like 160 people there. It was a Monday and all the other places were closed. It was crazy.”

“Si!” said Aldo, grinning ear to ear over a cup of coffee. “Bailando. Tomando!”

At the three of their gigs that I saw, Marvin was good, helping Aldo and the computer get a sound like if you crossbred Peter Gabriel, U2, and John Lennon with some hallucinating painted shaman in the jungle, wearing a loincloth. It was an example of Mexican musical creativity at its best, blending diverse influences into a cohesive, danceable whole. Aldo doesn’t wear a loincloth while performing, but when I first encountered him in an open-air bar in San Augustinillo, he certainly seemed like a shaman, albeit a technologically advanced one. The venue was on a bluff overlooking the moonlit ocean’s horizon. There were candles on all the tables to light the room, with the Powerbook running Logic Express software and also providing gray backlight while playing bass, drums, and harmony vocals for Aldo who, with his long black hair all around his face, sat in shadow except for the edge of his nose or a cheekbone, amber with candlelight when he sang a high note. The Powerbook churned out a huge sound that was intensified by Aldo’s expert use of several instruments: the didgeridoo, an ullilean set of bagpipes, various indigenous ocarinas and wooden flutes, an acoustic guitar, and a dobro. Aldo’s gear was all top-notch, and Marvin sat on a Marshall speaker box playing electric guitar, and each new song was like a revelation. Oftentimes the ends of the songs were the best, with the music spiraling into free jams between Marvin’s electric guitar (which reminded me of The Edge on the early U2 albums) and whatever instrument Aldo happened to be playing.

On one of his two CDs, Aldo plays a Tarahumaran bombo, some Huicholes sonajas, a little drum from Paplantla, a rainmaker, a balafon, a djun djun, an African bell, a yabahara, some darbukas, a d’jembe, a kalimba, a talking drum, a berimbau, a Brazilian zurdo, and a Hindu tabla.

Aldo is also a painter, and when he was struggling as a musician he turned to visual art as a way to earn money. “Painting was a moment when music was difficult for me. There was much pressure and not much work,” he told me in Spanish. “I asked myself, how can I get my crazy artist’s life together?” His paintings sold quickly, and he had art shows in Dublin, where his wife is from and where he bought his bagpipes. He also had shows in Italy, Germany, and Monterrey, where he is from.

Aldo, who is 45, learned music “in the streets,” he said. His three most significant musical influences are Daniel Lanois, the internationally renowned producer and musician who has worked with everyone from U2 to Willie Nelson; a band called Olodum, from Brazil; and Toto la Momposina, from Colombia. Aldo is scheduled to play in Los Angeles at Wee Fest with a lot of big names in 2006.

Meanwhile, he’s looking for somebody to make him “a little website.”

Walking around with Aldo in Mazunte, the beach town where the sea turtles come to lay their eggs every year, was interesting—he knew everyone in town, though he’d only been there for a week. He got the rock star treatment on the beaches, in the streets, in the restaurants, even while taking a hike through the jungle after dusk, watching the fireflies in the forest. People talked to him like he was an old friend or a respected teacher. Just about everyone has been to a few of his concerts, and even if you stayed in for the evening or went for a walk or sat on the beach smoking a Cuban cigar, the music of Aldo Garcia floated through the air—it became the happy, soothing soundtrack for a perfect beach vacation.

- Justin Max Bailey


Corazon De jade (LP)
Siboney (LP)
Los Santos (LP) in be released in June.


Feeling a bit camera shy


In 1993, while travelling in the "Selva Maya" Aldo Garcia stepped on a land mine. During an arduous evacuation to medical care Aldo experienced an awakening. From this day forward his life and music has been touched by the jungle and its spirits. Now nestled in a mango grove in the state of Veracruz, Aldo (with his irish wife Nuala and 2 daughters) near the village of Jalcomulco Aldo releases his creativity in his paintings and his music.
Apart from his mystical influences Aldo's music has been profoudly influenced by Daniel Lanois, and Brazil's Olodum and Toto La Momposino from Colombia.
What sets Aldo and his music apart is the unique blend of international instruments to make a true "world music" sound. With pre-columbian instruments and an Irish pipe Aldo's music is a unique blend of cumbia, samba, and reggae.