Estoy con la Banda, part 2

Victoria Villalobos, singing at La Casa de Pepe Villalobos, Lima, Peru

It has been a mighty busy week, what with 16 fans of the Afro-Peruvian Sextet tagging along as they tour Peru. We’ve been to El Carmen, a little town that suffered during the earthquake of 2007, and watched an outdoor performance there. We’ve gone to the high altitude town of Cusco (11,000 ft), catching our breath and seeing a performance by the sextet as well as an indigenous band, went to Machu Picchu and returned to Lima, where the sextet performed last night and will do two final performances tonight. I’ll have more to say in another post about the week.

Today, after our troupe of fans and band members spent a free morning in various pursuits (I was looking for a Panama hat), we went to an afternoon Peña at La Casa de Pepe Villalobos in Lima. Located in a narrow side street in a neighborhood of warehouses and graffiti filled walls, the Peña is actually held in a home. What appears to have been a closet serves as a kitchen, and two rooms, with white walls, wooden tables, historic photos, and paper maché decorations serve as the music/dance area. Two musicians sat in front of a large photo and played guitar and cajón. Their singing was gorgeous, full of sonorous harmonies. Owner Pepe Villalobos, a noted musician himself, would occasionally join them to sing and play the jawbone of an ass, using a comb.  I was thoroughly enjoying myself.

Then his daughter Victoria Villalobos got up to sing, and I experienced something extraordinary. I was moved to tears. Really. Though I didn’t understand the words, her voice, her emotion, and the melody was such that my chest was heaving and I found myself wiping tears from my eyes. I’ve heard of others having such an experience, but it’s never happened to me. I was dumbfounded, perplexed, unable to speak.

It’s something we should all experience at least once in our lives.

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