Friday night in Medellin, Colombia. This is a big night out for Paisas (the people of Medellin) and all I had to do was walk a few hundred feet outside my hotel door and I’d be smack in the middle of some of the most legendary nightlife with some of the most beautiful women (and men) in the world, Parque Lleras in the Poblado area of Medellin.
Instead, I find myself in a taxi, riding for what seemed like forever as I made my way as far north as you can get before you leave the Medellin city limits, to the very working class barrio of Bellos where Andres, the lead singer for Los Suziox’s lives.
Andres house was not easy for the taxi driver to find and I was beginning to wonder if I’d come all this way for nothing, but as usual, I was wrong. When I arrived Andres’ house was packed with friends of his from Los Suziox and other punk bands. You see Andres has hooked up his bedroom and another adjoining room to a makeshift recording studio and it’s so cool that many punk musicians come over to hang out, play music and talk shop.
We listened to some bands that he’s recorded so far and the sound was excellent. He’s also re-recording all of the Los Suziox songs soon and I can’t wait to hear them.
We made our way to the rehearsal space a few minutes away and waited around for the preceding band to finish up by drinking some beers. It turns out the rehearsal studio is very conveniently in the back of a bar.
But no matter, everyone in Medellin just drinks and socializes out in the street. Friends and acquaintances pass by, drink some beer, smoke cigarrettes or maybe some other stuff, (don’t ask, don’t smell is my motto). It’s very laid back, very social and I was introduced to several dozen folks who, it all seemed, played in some kind of band.
Everyone bent over backwards to make sure I was feeling at home and I certainly did. But I got the feeling it wasn’t just because I was a Gringo or was taping the rehearsal, I noticed this bit of hospitality with others as well. Somewhere along the way, Latinos were taught to be thoughtful, hospitable and warm to guest. Though I’m not sure warmth can be taught. It’s in their DNA perhaps? But I can tell you I wouldn’t mind a little more warmth in North America, it feels really good.
We finally started rehearsal around 10:30pm or so and Los Suziox tore through a few of their old songs for me including a couple of favorites of mine “la Perfeccion” (The Perfection) and “Armas Silencios” (Silent Arms) which I absolutely love.
Then they rehearsed the new song they are recording for the compilation CD being put together by local punk legends I.R.A. to help build a house for a down and out disabled friend. The song was short, intense and I liked it.
Around midnight I left the gang as I wanted to get a decent nights sleep because the next day I had to wake up early to hit their recording session @ 10AM.
The next morning, bright and early, I rolled over to the recording session where I ran into the guys from I.R.A. who are organizing the massive CD compilation (over 26 bands and over 100 musicians participating). Each band has one hour to lay down the tracks to their new songs to contribute to the project. Even though it was just 10AM, beer was flowing like coffee.
I grabbed a few interviews from some of the bands participating and exhausted by 12:30pm, the bands took another beer break and that is where I left the guys and headed back to my hotel.
On the ride back I noticed a feeling I hadn’t felt in a while. A feeling of camaraderie that had been missing for some time.
It felt good to once again be bonding with people thousands of miles and a culture gap away over a shared passion for punk rock music. That’s definitely something I wouldn’t have gotten from hanging out in Parque Lleras.
Stay tuned. Video from the rehearsal and recording sessions coming soon.