Sunday, 15 January 2012

Mexico’s Brilliant Musician

                                                                by Nancy Snipper


Ignacio (A.K.A. Nacho or Cheto) Real Garcia is a name that flies off everyone’s tongue when speaking about Ajijic and Chapala’s greatest guitarist.  But he is also famous for playing harp and violin. As well, he sings in a way that stirs the heart. This is a passionate performer. Nacho, who is self-taught, has an eclectic repertoire but his primary focus is Ibero-Americano music, Cuban included. Nothing holds him back. He plays at just about every restaurant, club and street corner in towns that pop up along the highway from Jototopec to Chapala. Nacho is not proud or full of conceit. He will play spontaneously in buses and on sidewalks if his guitar is with him. Nacho is what Mexicans call “un buen hombre” (a good man) with a heart as big as his talent. A case in point, my dear friend Lucilla who is the resident wonder-woman who takes in strays and works hard on behalf of animal rights, started a  periodic week-end clinic to spade and neuter strays, and Nacho came to help out. Without being asked and for no money, he played his guitar and offered folk dozens of mandarins he had picked up off his backyard tree. Unlike North American musicians with their tour bus or car, Nacho has no such thing. He totes his harp and whatever he needs to play or give to others in the bus. Nacho made his own violin and often goes to the Carpentaria to repair people’s instruments. A craftsman too, to honour Canada he hand-carved a round wooden medallion with a maple leaf on one side and a bear on the other. The detail is startling. Along with these pieces of art he made tiny miniature maple leaves, each with a series of veins that required painstaking work and a keen eye. He worked off pictures, as Nacho has never traveled beyond Mexico.

His son Victor is a genius. He and his dad along with José and Hernán have a group called Melodía Acústica. They are so much in demand, there is no such thing as a weekend off for these guys. Hire them now! They earn a pittance for their performances. Victor plays over a dozen instruments including some from Asia, and composes fantastic orchestral works. He records his compositions that are melodically stunning and intricate in Nacho – his dad’s house. There happens to be a studio in the back that both built. Victor plays each instrument and separately records each musical line per instrument separately. It is arduous work, but Victor’s intensity can handle it all.
I had the pleasure to play tambourine with the group during a performance at Tony’s Restaurant in Ajijic. It was thrilling to play with them and also at Vita Bella, a stunning place up in the mountains that serves glorious food. It’s for the rich folk for sure.
As a classical pianist and banjo player with 3 CDs out, I have composed, arranged, played and sung in various venues in Canada. But the highlight for me was having a chance to join Victor and Nacho who spontaneously invited me to play that tambourine with them. I was so exhilarated.
I had the honour as well to step into Nacho’s house and spend two hours with Victor as he played his recordings for me. I was flabbergasted at this family’s musical talent.
The house has become a kind of repository for all the instruments they own, and they are the first to spend money on acquiring instruments than acquiring purchasing a dish washer or other time savers.
Meeting Nacho and Victor will long be a highlight during my trip to Ajijic. I plan to go back and play with them again – if they’ll have me.