Trackpacking: Rodrigo y Gabriela

by Keith Savage · 22 comments

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Trackpacking is a recurring series highlighting musicians that inspire me to travel.

Consider this: Two Mexican guitarists quit their thrash metal band and move to Ireland where they find critical acclaim as an acoustic guitar duo specializing in Flamenco-inflected folky instrumental rock inspired by Metallica. Sound unlikely? Maybe the winning premise of a new HBO series?

Actually yes, on both accounts, but it’s the true story of Rodrigo y Gabriela.

From Mexico City to Limerick, Rodrigo y Gabriela have taken their unique brand of rhythmic acoustic guitar harmonies around the world. And I have to say, it doesn’t take much time listening to their crazily energetic songs before I’m ready to kick off my round the world jaunt right now. Any given song might blend lightning-fast finger picking with percussive guitar slapping with complex combinations of strumming and string muting. Believing that two people can create this music is nearly impossible; the first time I heard Tamacun I pictured a couple of four-armed Vishnu-like demigods shooting heavenly riffs from guitars dipped in the Fountain of Youth.

Aspiring guitarists, this would be shooting high.

I first heard of Rodrigo y Gabriela from our close friends Tim and Jessie. They invited us to a show in Milwaukee and we reluctantly turned it down due to its being in a different city and on a weeknight. I did, however, look into the music. Since then I’ve been enamored of their style and it often reminds me of Flamenco and Fado music from the time we spent in Spain and Portugal. Their music is the perfect cure for complacency and the cause of several impromptu and embarrassing solo dance parties. Yes, it’s true.

Rodrigo y Gabriela

Rodrigo y Gabriela released the excellent album 11:11 last year and they’re on tour this fall in the United States and United Kingdom. I think Sarah and I are going to see them in Milwaukee on October 6! In a different city and on a weeknight no less. [ed. note: the show was canceled]

Pack These Tracks

  • Tamacun, from Rodrigo y Gabriela. I think you’ve already got a visual for this one. This is a powerful way to kick off an album.
  • Orion, from Rodrigo y Gabriela. A gorgeous and stylized take on a Metallica masterpiece.
  • Hanuman, from 11:11. Insane finger-picking dances over some wild strumming.
  • Buster Voodoo, from 11:11. A dirty groove and catchy chorus make this a standout track.
  • Logos/Santo Domingo, from 11:11. An ethereal melody leads into the fiery Santo Domingo. You might remember Santo Domingo from the Bay to Breakers video.

Create a Moment with Rodrigo y Gabriela

  • Get the people together for an barbecue on a beautiful day.
  • Spice up the soundtrack to your last bit of packing before the big trip.
  • Pipe it through your headphones as you walk through the winding city streets.

What music moves you? Fatten up my iPod!

Original photos by Kmeron via Flickr under Creative Commons

tinayNo Gravatar September 28, 2010 at 9:24 AM

Keith, I like your trackpacking posts. Can say that you have great ears. I’d like to share to you

It’s an indie cyber nook. You might find something you’ll fall for.

Is Philippines not a destination for you… someday? 🙂

Keith SavageNo Gravatar September 28, 2010 at 9:33 AM

Hi Tinay, thanks for the link. I’ll check it out.

Philippines? Sure, someday. I’m open to everywhere, which makes the process of choosing destinations very difficult.

EricaNo Gravatar September 22, 2010 at 3:36 AM

Muh. You have me slightly obsessed.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar September 22, 2010 at 10:52 AM

It’s a worthy obsession. I’m getting pretty excited about seeing them live in a couple of weeks.

LarryNo Gravatar September 21, 2010 at 11:50 AM

Really good stuff. Enjoyed it.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar September 22, 2010 at 10:52 AM

Cool, thanks for stopping by Larry.

SonyaNo Gravatar September 18, 2010 at 10:29 PM

Beautiful post! Thanks for introducing me to this musician! Happy trackpacking!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar September 19, 2010 at 10:12 PM

Thanks Sonya, I’m glad this series has helped you find a new musician to follow!

Phil PaolettaNo Gravatar September 17, 2010 at 12:21 PM

Love this post. Big Rodrigo y Gabriela fan and a big part of my current jaunt through West Africa is about collecting and making music. I’m now about to explore more of this series. Excellent idea. Take care, Phil

Keith SavageNo Gravatar September 19, 2010 at 10:13 PM

Hey Phil, I’d love to read about your ventures in the music sphere. Hope you enjoy the other Trackpacking articles.

BessieNo Gravatar September 17, 2010 at 9:47 AM

Really dig their sound – thanks for sharing them!

I bet they’re amazing in person. Cheers!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar September 19, 2010 at 10:12 PM

Hey Bessie – glad to help. I love introducing people to new music. I’m SURE they will be blow us away live in a couple of weeks.

Andy Hayes | Dream Travel JobsNo Gravatar September 16, 2010 at 3:25 PM


I was well impressed with the clips.

And then I was BLOWN AWAY with the stairway to Heaven. Wow. I’d love to hear it on MP3 without all the background noise though. Off to go look for it 🙂

Keith SavageNo Gravatar September 17, 2010 at 9:10 AM

Incredible rendition, wasn’t it? There’s really another dimension to those live performances. Can’t wait to see them in just over two weeks!

Andrew@GoOverseasNo Gravatar September 16, 2010 at 11:47 AM

You forgot to mention their rendition of Stairway to Heaven. Simply amazing!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar September 16, 2010 at 12:34 PM

Just too many good songs to choose from. This video is incredible!!

JeanNo Gravatar September 16, 2010 at 10:32 AM

I’ve got Glen Hansard on the brain. The Frames and Swell Season are on heavy iPod rotation. Favorite Frames tracks, “Revelate” (live) and “Fitzcarraldo.” Swell Season: “Low Rising” and “Feeling the Pull.” (Any traveler will love “Pull”).


Keith SavageNo Gravatar September 16, 2010 at 11:09 AM

Great suggestion! I’ve already got Swell Season in the mix and a bunch of The Frames albums, but I’ve yet to listen to them in detail. Thanks for pointing out some key tracks!

KenNo Gravatar September 16, 2010 at 10:29 AM

Amazing! They are phenomenal.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar September 16, 2010 at 11:08 AM

Aren’t they? Every time I watch that Tamacun video I’m completely mesmerized.

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