I often get asked what’s a tv reporter doing playing the flamenco guitar?
Funnily enough it was flamenco that led me into journalism.
With the encouragement of my family I’d played this very exciting style of Spanish music since I was a child. In fact it was because of that I got my first break as a reporter when I was asked to interview a band of gypsies now known as the Gypsy Kings.
You can read the full story in the latest edition of North and South Magazine, out on Monday July 9.
At the age of 22 I went to Spain to study flamenco and fell in love with the people and its music.
I got to hang out with gypsies and other Flamenco musos, like these young friends in Jerez de La Frontera. Lola, a young gypsy from Seville was the first dancer I got to accompany.
Just as flamenco led me into journalism, it was journalism that led me back into flamenco.
Several years ago I heard about a kiwi hero of the Spanish Civil War, Griff Maclaurin.
His story inspired me to write a piece of music, which I called I AM. That became the sound track for a TVNZ’S Sunday Programme, which I shot in Spain.
While shooting that story I got the chance to study with top gypsy flamenco guitarist Juan del Gastor.
As a youngster dreaming of being a flamenco guitarist, I had read books about Juan and his famous family. I’ve been back a number of times to study with him and we have become firm friends.
Juan and his family follow my progress over here.
Here is a piece I recorded in New Zealand with an amazing flamenco dancer from Barcelona Isabel Rivera.
This rhythm, known as Bulerias, is based on the style played in Juan’s village.
This year Isabel and I got the opportunity to do a national New Zealand Tour.
It featured the full version of I Am.