On our road trip to the north-west of Argentina, we spent a night in Santiago del Estero, the capital of the province with the same name. While Salta and Jujuy are stunning mountain landscapes, Santiago del Estero is very flat and very hot. Temperatures can reach 50 degrees in the summer… We were there in late May, and it was still 27 degrees. The climate was apparent in the pace of the city; siesta lasted until 18:00 and the city is known for having a much slower pace than other cities in Argentina. However, they are also known as the folklore capital of the country, and in the short time we were there, not even 24 hours, I had one of the best music experiences I have had here.
We arrived from Salta during siesta time and there really wasn’t much to do, we explored as best as we could, found an open place to get something to eat, had a little rest, and then headed out at night to find a place with good folklore music. The hotel had suggested a place called La casa del folklorista, but they didn’t have any live music on Friday, only Saturday. He suggested a couple of places, we went to one of them and it was completely dead; they said nothing would start until 1 or 2am. We then went to a combined parrilla and peña, and it turned out to be fantastic. It was already late but people were just starting to eat. There was a small stage, and soon after we got there a sort of MC started welcoming everyone and also asking who had a birthday. My friend did, so the staff took note of that along with several large parties who were celebrating as well.
Then the music started and it was FANTASTIC! The first band was from Tucuman and played lots of great chacareras. Both the singer and the violin player made lots of jokes and had the place buzzing in no time. Then an older lady in the audience asked to join them; she turned out to be a famous singer herself. The band graciously invited her up to the stage and they did wonderful together. That sort of set the ton for the rest of the night: lots of sharing of the stage and joining each other. A total of five groups played, but our favorite was probably the one from Tucuman, La Tucu Gomez.
The birthday thing turned out to be really funny: they made a big deal about each birthday boy or girl, but a particularly big deal about my friend! He got the whole “This man came all the way from Texas, United States, to celebrate his birthday in Santiago del Estero! It is incredible!!” People even wanted their picture taken with us! Clearly, Santiago del Estero does not get a lot of foreign tourists…
I cannot remember the name of the place but will edit the post with the name as soon as I can find it. Lovely evening, that’s for sure.
I love Argentine folklore music, especially chacarera, and here is a selection of some really great ones.