8th Annual Bay Area Flamenco Festival presents
Direct from Spain
DAVID SERVA: Godfather of Bay Area Flamenco Guitar
Celebrating over 50 Years in Flamenco
This concert is a celebration of David Serva's foundational influence on the flamenco community of the Bay Area.
Presented as a part of the 8th Annual Bay Area Flamenco Festival, David will be joined by a group of Gypsy musicians and dancers from Spain including Jose Galvez "El Duende", Kina Mendez and Luis de la Tota.
A Bay Area native who has lived and worked in Spain as a professional flamenco guitarist for most of his life, David has built a singular style on the artistic legacy of his maestro, Gypsy guitarist Diego del Gastor (1908-1973), one of the most important flamenco artists of the 20th century.
David began playing clubs in Madrid and Marbella in the early 70s, while pursuing a career internationally as a soloist. He h
as accompanied such historical figures of flamenco as Juan Talega, Manolito de Maria, La Perla de Cadiz, Anzonini del Puerto and Fernanda de Utrera, Manuel Agujetas, Miguel Funi, Manolete, Mario Maya, and Blanca del Rey, as well as younger figures such as Joaquin Ruiz, Soledad Barrios, and Pepe Torres de Moron. He has played in Flamenco nightclubs and festivals all over Spain and has participated in the Bienal del Arte Flamenco de Sevilla with Gypsy flamenco artists from the towns of Moron and Lebrija. He has made several recordings with with the Agujetas family as well as with Antonio Vizarraga and Rafael Jimenez "El Falo". David was the stage guitarist for original production of the Broadway musical, Man of La Mancha and was lead guitarist for several years for the acclaimed company "Noche Flamenca." Most recently he was the subject of the documentary film Gypsy Davy that sold out the Berkeley Rep's Roda Theater at last year's Jewish Film Festival.
A graduate of Berkeley High, Serva (AKA David Jones) left home at 15 and started playing folk music with his friends in cafes along Telegraph Avenue. The music scene in Berkeley at the time was rich and eclectic and David was exposed to it all, hanging out at clubs on San Pablo Avenue listening to the likes of local blues legend K.C. Douglas. It was there that he was introduced to the flamenco guitar and soon began performing with Los Flamencos de la Bodega at the old Spaghetti Factory in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood as well as in East Bay clubs like Berkeley's Cabale and the old Freight & Salvage.
In the summer of 1962 on his second trip to Spain, David arrived in a small Andaluz pueblo outside Sevilla called Morón de La Frontera where he met Gypsy guitar maestro Diego del Gastor and was taken under his wing. Serva shared the down-home, pueblo style playing he learned from Diego with a generation of Bay Area guitarists and flamenco artists during his stints back home where he was a star attraction in the flamenco room of the old Spaghetti Factory during its heyday in the sixties.
“Serva is the Godfather of the Berkeley scene," explains guitarist Kenny Parker (AKA Keni "El Lebrijano"), "He was one of the absolute pioneers, and I respect him because he did this ...years ago when it wasn’t easy, under Franco .. when Spain wasn’t so attractive to tourists. He’s the one who has made the most inroads there. He has influenced a whole bunch of people."
For David, the influence of Diego’s playing on his own work had never been a matter of playing his falsetas note-for-note or in slavish imitation of his style. “I’ve always made up my own stuff.” says Serva. “I’ll play two chords of tarantas and start making up a falseta. I’ll hear other guitarists, and I may like somebody else’s stuff but I’ve always done my own variations.” By the early 1970s, he was already creating a more personal sound in his solo playing, albeit one grounded in his own synthesis of Diego’s style. “I’m a classical in the flamenco sense,” he once told a Madrid radio interviewer, “but I don’t think I’ve lagged behind. A little to the side, but not behind.”
David has always seen singing as “the quintessential element of flamenco,” and tonight's concert highlights his unique skill as an accompanist. His solo playing is also intriguing as is evident from his CD Son Gitano en America. Woven into the fabric of his renderings of traditional flamenco forms are musical quotations from Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis. The compositions recall Keith Jarrett’s improvisations with Gospel, classical and Middle themes in his solo concerts. But even with these lyrical evocations, the spirit of Morón is never far away.
WATCH VIDEO of David Serva
8th ANNUAL BAY AREA FLAMENCO FESTIVAL
Other Flamenco Festival events
Sept. 21: CONCHA VARGAS, La Peña Cultural Center, Berkeley
Sept. 22: CONCHA VARGAS, Kuumbwa Jazz Center, Santa Cruz
Sept. 27: DAVID SERVA & Friends, Kuumbwa Jazz Center, Santa Cruz
Sept. 29: DAVID SERVA & Friends, Freight & Salvage, Berkeley
Oct. 4th: GEMA MONEO, Brava Theater, SF
Oct. 5th: GEMA MONEO, Berkeley Repertory Theater
Oct. 6th: GEMA MONEO, Kuumbwa Jazz Center, Santa Cruz
BAY AREA FLAMENCO FESTIVAL
Founded in 2005, the Bay Area Flamenco Festival has grown into a popular and vital annual Bay Area cultural event. In addition to several days of live performances, lecture demos, film screenings workshops and master classes, various informal gatherings provide the opportunity for cultural exchange and create a context for sharing cultural traditions and experiencing flamenco in a genuinely interactive and spontaneous environment.
“In recent years, the San Francisco Bay Area has become a major U.S. conduit for Spain’s greatest flamenco artists. […] There’s really a vibrant scene here and Nina Menéndez has become a major force [as] the producer of the Bay Area Flamenco Festival.” -NPR The California Report
FESTIVAL FLAMENCO GITANO
The Bay Area Flamenco Festival under the artistic direction of it’s founder, Nina Menéndez
, presents the annual FESTIVAL FLAMENCO GITANO,
dedicated to presenting grassroots flamenco from the Gypsy communities of Spain. The UNESCO has recognized flamenco as a World Heritage Treasure, acknowledging the Spanish Gypsies’ essential role in flamenco’s evolution. Celebrating Spanish Gypsy music and dance as a living culture and a legacy of world stature, the Festival has presented some of the most important figures in the history of flamenco as well as prodigies from today’s generation of artists. In 2012 Festival Flamenco Gitano received a Special Honor from the Isadora Duncan Dance Awards
for performances featuring a multigenerational group of tradition-bearers, heirs to a rich legacy of music and dance passed down through the families.
Artistic Director Nina Menendez explains: “These artists are bringing the Gitano essence of flamenco into the 21st century. They have an ease for improvisation that comes from living the art as part of everyday life and are able to express a full range of genuine emotion with unique personal style. No choreography is required, only an intimate connection among the dancers and musicians who interact freely on the basis of a shared legacy and an insatiable hunger to find the spark of duende that transforms the mundane into the sublime.”