Guillermo Serpas
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Guillermo Serpas

Houston, Texas, United States | INDIE

Houston, Texas, United States | INDIE
Band Latin World

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Nov
19
Guillermo Serpas @ Peli Peli Restaurant

Houston, Texas, USA

Houston, Texas, USA

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Press


...This is probably the best Latin solo album I’ve heard this year. Definitely recommended, and highly shinning: a newly discovered sun. - Music Dish


Serpas harmonizes with himself and brings out all the hurried Latin acoustic guitar that makes these tanned humans the best in the world when it comes to love music and finger gymnastics…
- LA.Ritmo.com


Desdenes. The name of a song, perhaps, or the name of a lover you met in a dream? But if it's a dream, surely the dreamer stirs in her sleep, words on her lips that fall away stillborn. Desdenes, yes, a song, one about emotion that can't quite translate into the concrete confines of English. Not deadened feelings, but the hot, sticky resin of love, slow-roasted then cooled, the way it sadly must be once the fuel is spent. Somehow, in the dust-bunnies of your mind, after the song caresses your tear ducts for the third or fourth time, you understand the emotion shackled within those bittersweet notes. Desdenes: Disdain.
"Im searching for the word. It is...a difficult word," says singer-guitarist Guillermo Serpas over coffee at a musical alcove in southwest Calgary. He's responding to a question about the meaning of the song, sung in sweetly seared Spanish that appears on his first solo album, Guillermo.
"I am telling her, if you want to hate me, go ahead, but i know that that hate is all stemming from the love she still feels underneath for me."
Later, he admits, " I have had several love affairs-none of them were good ones that worked out well." "Desdenes," the album's first song, joins with nine other following, vibrating, wistful songs that stretch together to fling love's crumpled flowers on life's stepping stones, petals crushed only after they have danced until their colors have drained.
In the early 1980s, at the age of 14, Serpas and his family escaped the political repression of El Salvador and came to Calgary. Despite leaving his Latin American heritage behind as a teenager listening to Led Zeppelin albums, Serpas eventually went on to complete a degree in music at the University of Calgary. Trading his metal Jimmy Page-inspired strings for the nylon ones encouraged by his culture, Guillermo then joined forces with his older brother, Roberto, who had earned a master's degree in composition at the University of Toronto. Soon, The Serpas Brothers were the keepers of the songs of San Salvadorian's bliss, hurt, hopes and dreams as they played regularly at several Calgary establishments.
"Although I miss the beaches, the sun and the food, I would not go back to (El Salvador) live, even though things have gotten better there. Calgary is where I am, and where my family is now," says Serpas, smiling. He has traveled to Vancouver and Edmonton on the broad, strong back of his music, and appreciates the fact that he can make a living solely through music here.
"People there (in El Salvador) are so focused on survival, they don't have time to work on their music. They are very warm and giving, because I think that's their way of dealing with the situation."
Serpas notes that he has seldom encountered racist behavior since arriving in Calgary, a city he appreciates for its orderliness and cleanliness in contrast to the chaos of his native land. Many of his memories of his homeland are sitting in traffic jams or waiting in lineups what ate up time he would have preferred to spend coaxing notes from his guitar. Even now, he works so hard at his music, practicing at least two hours daily on top of gigging, that he often does not have the opportunity to see other musicians play around town.
For now, his album will have to be his ambassador, carrying his music beyond his shows. Recorded in his bedroom on his own equipment, the music needs few words to convey the sweetness of the emotions it bespeaks, emotions that would fit as well on an old Iggy Pop album as they do in these 10 tracks: lust for life. A simple emotion, with no desdenes, and no translation needed.
Before the CD was recorded, The Serpas Brothers were an extremely popular act, playing several times weekly in the city. The question of whether Serpas will re-join his brother for gigs is answered affirmatively, although he compares the idea of The Serpas Brothers to a monogamous marriage.
"We were exclusive. You were not allowed to play with anyone else. I like the freedom of this, and to have proved to myself that i could do it. Yes, it will inspire (Roberto) to know that he can do his own album, too. But we will be playing again sometime."
- Fast Forward Magazine/ Marry-Lynn McEwen


Roughly three years after their formation, Los Morenos appear to be following in the sizable footsteps of Oscar Lopez and Peter Knight among others carving out a name for themselves on the local Latin music scene as skilled purveyors of flamenco and rumba based music mixed with pop, jazz and other elements.
At the core of Los Morenos are the duo of vocalists and guitarist Mauricio Moreno and Guillermo Serpas, as collaboration formed from the ashes fo former ventures. Moreno, who had long hoped for an opportunity to perform with Serpas, a graduate of the University of Calgary's music department, says: "I belive things happen for a reason. I had tried for years to get together with Guillermo, so i was very happy to get him on board."
Choosing to adopt the polished, upbeat, rhythmic sound characteristic of the 'Nuevo Flamenco' Strunz and Farah, Ottmar Liebert, Th Gypsy Kings, Jesse Cook and others, Los Morenos have also benefited from the current high profile of contemporary popsters Ricky Martin, Enrique Iglesias and recent Grammy Award winner Carlos Santana. Moreno: "Our shows have a mis of older and younger people. The pop sound attracts the kids from the high schools because they like what we do and because the world beat soun in our music. etc.. etc.. etc - The Calgary Sun


Roughly three years after their formation, Los Morenos appear to be following in the sizable footsteps of Oscar Lopez and Peter Knight among others carving out a name for themselves on the local Latin music scene as skilled purveyors of flamenco and rumba based music mixed with pop, jazz and other elements.
At the core of Los Morenos are the duo of vocalists and guitarist Mauricio Moreno and Guillermo Serpas, as collaboration formed from the ashes fo former ventures. Moreno, who had long hoped for an opportunity to perform with Serpas, a graduate of the University of Calgary's music department, says: "I belive things happen for a reason. I had tried for years to get together with Guillermo, so i was very happy to get him on board."
Choosing to adopt the polished, upbeat, rhythmic sound characteristic of the 'Nuevo Flamenco' Strunz and Farah, Ottmar Liebert, Th Gypsy Kings, Jesse Cook and others, Los Morenos have also benefited from the current high profile of contemporary popsters Ricky Martin, Enrique Iglesias and recent Grammy Award winner Carlos Santana. Moreno: "Our shows have a mis of older and younger people. The pop sound attracts the kids from the high schools because they like what we do and because the world beat soun in our music. etc.. etc.. etc - The Calgary Sun


Roughly three years after their formation, Los Morenos appear to be following in the sizable footsteps of Oscar Lopez and Peter Knight among others carving out a name for themselves on the local Latin music scene as skilled purveyors of flamenco and rumba based music mixed with pop, jazz and other elements.
At the core of Los Morenos are the duo of vocalists and guitarist Mauricio Moreno and Guillermo Serpas, as collaboration formed from the ashes fo former ventures. Moreno, who had long hoped for an opportunity to perform with Serpas, a graduate of the University of Calgary's music department, says: "I belive things happen for a reason. I had tried for years to get together with Guillermo, so i was very happy to get him on board."
Choosing to adopt the polished, upbeat, rhythmic sound characteristic of the 'Nuevo Flamenco' Strunz and Farah, Ottmar Liebert, Th Gypsy Kings, Jesse Cook and others, Los Morenos have also benefited from the current high profile of contemporary popsters Ricky Martin, Enrique Iglesias and recent Grammy Award winner Carlos Santana. Moreno: "Our shows have a mis of older and younger people. The pop sound attracts the kids from the high schools because they like what we do and because the world beat soun in our music. etc.. etc.. etc - The Calgary Sun


Above the bustle and ambient noise, Latin music dances through the room. Conversations flows easily above the melodies and intricate rhythms of Spanish guitars.
The Atmosphere might be redolent of an open air on the Costa del Sol, but the setting is a downtown Calgary pub.
The musicians playing guitar on this recent evening are Roberto and Guillermo Serpas. The newest addition to a quickly growing Spanish music scene in Calgary, the Serpas Brothers and their fellow guitarists are the vanguard of the movement.
Local artists such as performer-composer Peter Knight and Oscar Lopez have produced critically acclaimed CDs, and live Latin music is heard all around town in bars and restaurants, such as the Blue House and the Wildwood Pub. As the name implies, the Latin music scene revolves around the Spanish guitar, usually a smaller version of the North American steel-string guitar but with a wider neck and plastic strings. Two major disciplines have evolved from the same instrument: flamenco and Latina American music. Latin finds its roots in flamenco. The technique is very similar, but in Latin music the emphasis is on melody and Latin beats. Flamenco originated from a mixture of cultures in North Africa, India and Spain. Aggressive and based on human emotions, it emphases gypsy rhythms and quick tempos that lend themselves to dance. From its culturally mixed beginnings, Spanish guitar has hit the international stage. "I think it's a world trend" says Roberto. " To me, the whole world moves to the same heartbeat." Ht thinks the world through a renaissance of a new understanding and acceptance between cultures. "There is a new era coming. Its not what they call new age. This is different. Cultures are closer to one another," says Roberto 31, the older brother of the up and coming El Salvadorean born duo. "I think there's a definite rise in the popularity of that (music)'" agrees Holly Blazina, a flamenco guitarist who has just begun giving public performances. Spanish guitar demands discipline and time to perfect. Blazina, who performs with a percussionist and a dancer as the group Ocurrencia, has been playing for more than five years. "The world's becoming smaller in a lot of respects," she says, "with people becoming more aware of other cultures and what makes these other cultures interesting and distinct. " I think that music has to go along with that."
Oscar Lopez, the most renowned of all Calgary guitarist, believes people are becoming more open minded to different styles of music. "The music is very beautiful and it has a lot of rhythm," says Chilean-born Oscar Lopez, who has recorded and six Albums and played all over the world. "It's music that's made from the heart. People are slowly catching on to that, "says Lopez, who has received fan email from as far as Japan. The talent and appreciation of Spanish guitar found in a city the size of Calgary are staggering. "I did many concerts in Toronto and was never received quite the way I am when I do concerts in the West," says Knight, who at 46 is the city's most established flamenco guitarist. He has been part of the scene since its inception more than five years ago and played a sold out concert at the Jack Singer Hall last year. As well as being a support base for the new scene, Calgary audiences flock to concert halls to see foreign Latin guitarists, such as Ottmar Liebert and Strunz and Farah, Knight says.
Latin guitarist Jesse Cook has experienced this appreciation for the art form at first hand. "He's been all over North America, and his biggest concert was here in Calgary last September," Knight says of his Toronto based friend. "Ottmar Liebert- his best concerts are always in Calgary. Two shows: He'll sell out." The sudden local popularity of Spanish guitar-based music has had a positive effect on the Serpas' young career. The duo has no shortage of shows to play the sales of their self-titled debut CD have been better than expected. For Roberto and Guillermo, as for many who share the love of the Spanish guitar, passion for the instrument started at an early age. "Whenever i used to go to my grandfather's house, I would play a small guitar he had bought so that they wouldn't touch his full-size one," says Roberto, who graduated from University of Toronto with a masters degree in musical composition. "We would listen to him play accordion, play the guitar and sing. He inspired me tremendously," he says. Roberto started taking guitar lessons at age eight, and his brother was not far behind. Guillermo, 29, who has a music degree from the University of Calgary, began to play when he was 12. The duo fuses flamenco-style technique and the virtuosity of classical guitar with Latin rhythms to animate their original compositions and breathe new life into well-known Latin melodies. "In all styles of music, there exists an artistic integrity, and underneath all that there is a performer who has given life to music," says Roberto. "That inspires - Calgary Herald-Pablo Richard Fernandez


Rating: * * * * out of five
Maybe Its something in Calgary's water. Whatever it is, there's an abundance of superb guitarist in this city. Just as Oscar Lopez once entertained diners before becoming an acclaimed recording artist. The Serpas Brothers do more than just play Latin-style guitar for easy consumption. The brothers Guillermo and Roberto bring a virtuosity and vitality to every duo guitar instrumental they perform. from intricate intense interpaly on El Condor Pasa and Jiboa to a truly beautiful rendition of Samba Pa Ti (made popular by Santana). A marvellous indie effort by two supremely talented guitarist. - Calgary Herald- James Muterich


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

Guillermo Serpas is a Nuevo Flamenco guitarist based in Houston, Texas, whose unique style combines a fusion of Spanish Guitar, Latin Jazz, and World Music.

Born in San Salvador, Guillermo studied classical guitar under the tutelage of Maestro Candido Morales, a close friend and disciple of Paraguayan guitar legend, Agustin Barrios. In 1983, the Serpas family relocated to Calgary, Alberta, Canada, a move that introduced the young musician to a variety of classical, jazz, rock and Top 40 sounds. As a teenager, Guillermo played rock and blues in local bands. He also joined his high-school concert band as a clarinet player, and played electric guitar in the school’s jazz band.

In 1992, Guillermo attended the University of Calgary, and graduated in 1996 with a Bachelor’s degree in Music. Soon after, he formed a guitar duo with his older brother Roberto. The duo toured across Western Canada, producing a successful CD titled “Serpas Brothers” in 1999. After the duo dissolved, Guillermo continued playing and debuted his first solo album in August, 2001, self titled: “Guillermo.” Calgary’s Music Disk raved: “It’s probably the best Latin solo album I’ve heard all year.”

New musical opportunities took Guillermo to Orlando, Florida, where he collaborated and performed with Latino musicians from Puerto Rico, Peru, Mexico and Spain. After releasing “Mi Sol y Mi Luna” in August of 2006, Guillermo relocated to Houston, where he currently performs in many venues around Texas. His new CD “Guitarra Bohemia” released in June 2010, is a collection of 10 original compositions, recorded and produced by him as well. This recording also features some of Houston’s finest musicians on bass and percussion.

Critics call Guillermo’s music: “a newly discovered sun” and say his playing is among “the best in the world when it comes to love music and finger gymnastics.” For more information about upcoming events please visit his website at: www.guillermoserpas.com.
Reviews of the first solo CD “Guillermo”

FFWD Magazine: Calgary News and Entertainment Weekly.
…In the dust-bunnies of your mind, after the song caresses your tear ducts for the third time, you understand the emotion shackled within those bittersweet notes.
Desdenes: Disdain…

LA. Ritmo.com
Serpas harmonizes with himself and brings out all the hurried Latin acoustic guitar that makes these tanned humans the best in the world when it comes to love music and finger gymnastics…

Music Dish
...This is probably the best Latin solo album I’ve heard this year. Definitely recommended, and highly shinning: a newly discovered sun.

Recent Festival Participations:
Bayou City Arts Fall 2010: Solo
Bayou City Arts Fall 2010: with flamenco group “Cuado La Tempestad”
San Antonio Summer Art and Jazz Festival 2010: The Guillermo Serpas Latin Jazz Quintet
Houston’s International Festival 2010: with flamenco group “Cuadro La Tempestad”.
The Woodlands Waterway Festival 2010: with Flamenco group Cuadro La Tempestad
Bayou City Arts Festival Spring 2010: Solo.
Bayou City Arts Festival 2009: with Flamenco group Cuadro La Tempestad.
Texas Folklife Festival/San Antonio 2010: Solo
Texas Folklife Festival/San Antonio 2009: Solo
Texas Folklife Festival/San Antonio 2008: Solo