Tex-Mex success

Already a celebrated recording artist in Spain guitarist and singer/songwriter Jairo Zavala returns ‘home’ to Israel after playing here with Calexico last year.

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November 14, 2010 21:58
3 minute read.
JAIRO ZAVALA: ‘The main thing for me is to be simp

Depedro 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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Jairo Zavala remembers the last time he performed in Tel Aviv like it was yesterday. I can’t recall ever playing a show that lasted three hours,” the Spanish guitarist and singer/songwriter said about the August, 2009 concert given by his friends and musical collaborators, Americana eclectics Calexico.

Zavala, better known by his stage name Depedro, was the band’s longtime touring guitarist and opening act. Their Tel Aviv show at the Barby Club was broadcast live on the radio and was considered by local music afficionados to be one of the musical highlights of the year. Zavala’s contributions on such songs as “Victor Jara’s Hands” added an authentic slice of Spanish ambience, and his sparkling guitar leads sparked the band all night.

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“It was unbelievable for us, we developed a really strong feeling for the country, I think that’s one of the reasons it was such a good show,” added Zavala, who is returning to Tel Aviv on November 18, this time as headliner Depedro, with his own band.

DePedro – a name he chose because it sounded “kind of Mediterranean, kind of Spanish” – has been performing for most of his adult life, writing and playing for Spanish star Amparanoia, Spanish instrumental surf band Los Coronas and frontman and founder of Vacazul and 3000 Hombres, both renowned bands in the respective Spanish rock and blues scenes. But it wasn’t until Calexico’s Joey Burns heard his song “Don’t Leave Me Now,” that his name started reaching the indie rock crowd.

Calexico added the song to their live repertoire, and got in touch with Zavala when they toured Spain in 2004. He joined the band as a touring guitarist soon after, and over the next couple of years, they appeared on each other’s records, including Zavala’s debut album, 2007’s Depedro “We became good friends. Everyone in the band loves him and we helped him out on his record,” Calexico’s Burns told to The Jerusalem Post last year. It was a mutual admiration society, as Zavala also contributed to Calexico’s 2009 album Carried to Dust.

“I fell in love with them and their music, and they opened my mind to such an interesting array of music. They opened a lot of doors for me,” said Zavala last week from his home in Madrid, where he had just picked up his two small children from day care.

OVER THE last year, Zavala has returned to his solo career, recording his second album the mostly Spanish Nubes de Papel which just came out this month, and assembling his own band.



“I’m super focused on my band now, they’re great and they deserve the attention,” he said, adding that the album was recorded over the course of years and continents.

“I had as chance to think a lot about it, I spent about three years recording it. If I was with Calexico for one week in Tuscon, I’d take advantage of it and say ‘let’s go in the studio and record a song’. I’m really happy with the album.”

Featuring a blend of Spanish folk and blues along with the Tex-Mex border-meets Spanish melody music that Zavala’s become synonymous with, Nubes de Papel also features a cover of the Velvet Underground’s “What Goes On” and a collaboration with Calexico’s Burns on“Empty Fields.”

“It’s a more reflective album with more low tempo songs,” said Zavala. “But there are plenty of up tempo songs too. The main thing for me is to be simple – to try to get the emotions and purity of the songs right.

I know that we live in the 21st century but sometimes simple is the best.”

While looking forward to returning to Israel for the musical purpose of showing off his own band for his Barby Club show, Zavala is also eager to arrive for a more personal reason.

“When we were here last year, I felt like I was at home,” said Zavala. “It had the same flavor, the same weather, the people looked the same. I remember telling the guys in Calexico, ‘This is my country.’” Based on his show last year, he should be welcomed back like a returning son.

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