FolkWorld #71 03/2020
© Pío Fernández

As We Have Always Done It

We have received a sampler about the band from Extremadura (central-southwest Spain), Aulaga Folk. It seems that the ‘aulaga’ plant would correspond to the botanical category know in English as ‘gorse’ or ‘gorst’. “Como siempre lo hemos hecho” , “As we have always done it”, is a kind of manifesto on their will to remain loyal to the traditional folk-rock style that they have developed for the past twenty years.

Aulaga Folk

Artist Video Aulaga Folk @ FROG

The last time that FolkWorld heard about them was in 2011, with their album ‘A menos cuarto’.[45] Aulaga Folk was born in 1999 in the town of Casas del Monte (province of Cáceres), in the center of the Ambroz river valley, right in between the spurs of the Sierras of Béjar and Gredos. Listening to their album, you will hear plenty of rhythms and instrumental arrangements that could be considered as influenced by genres of hard, progressive, pop or folk rock, or even country/blue-grass. For instance, in ‘Romance la Dama y el Caballero’, or even better, in ‘Ánimas’ you will find a dark tune with reminisces of The Doors, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, or The Skorpions?, but based on a traditional song from the region of Las Hurdes.

Then, you will also clearly reach: subjects, lyrics, melodies or beats, where the traditional folk from Extremadura (or the neighbor Castilian & Andalusian regions) get firmly inserted and remind of the band’s strong roots. This is the case of the dance tune ‘Enramá’, or the song ‘Pimentoneras’, resembling a rumba flamenca, dedicated to the women from the region of La Vera whose traditional job was the recollection and processing of the red peppers, that once air dried and crushed they produced one of the most renowned local farming products: the ‘pimentón’ or ground paprika from la Vera.

Aulaga Folk: Como siempre lo hemos hecho

A different story is ‘Otoño Mágico (Valle del Ambroz)’, which could plainly recall some Dire Straits/Mark Knopfler old slow tunes, but other times even R.E.M. The song ‘El Sueño de Sese’, has a prelude with oriental flavor that evolves into a kind of polka cowboy step dance. This is a very eclectic album, not at all attached to a simple and repetitive formula on the way to perform the fusion between the before mentioned North American sounds and the traditional Extremenian ones. The crossover moves are performed in both ways, with unquestionable musicianship.

Aulaga Folk’s line up are: Juan-Carlos Centeno (flutes, voice), Javier Colmenar (guitars, bouzouki, voice), Lourdes Sánchez (voice and frame drums), Alvaro Lorenzo (violin), Miguel Escribano (electric guitar, clarinet), Slawomir Tomasz Debowski (electric bass), and Jaime Sanguino (drum set). The guest artists have been: Pistolo Quevedo (drum set), Jesús Escribano (electric bass), and the Choir of Varadan.

Como siempre, As always: Very rewarding to listen folk-rock from Extremadura; keeping strong the roots and the trunk, and grafting branches from other species to obtain tasteful fruits.

Aulaga Folk "Como siempre lo hemos hecho", 2019.

Photo Credits: (1)-(2) Aulaga Folk (unknown/website).

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