The boys are back in town – Blues in Playa Arena, Tenerife

There is a bar in Playa Arena that I always assumed was German, the Franziskaner.  It is actually a true Canarian Bar.  I’m not sure where the name comes from, perhaps it is because they sell German beer, but it has been in the town for many years and has always been run by a Canarian couple.  Talking to people who live locally it is very popular especially late at night, as they serve delicious food when everywhere else is closed.

We originally learnt about this place from Juan the manager of another bar in another town.  He was getting a lift home with Bluegrass and Whiskey (part of Whiskey and the Traveller Blues Band), after a late shift.  As this is his local, the group of friends dropped in for ‘one for the road’.  After a few drinks, a lot of conversation and a little encouragement, harps and guitars were hauled from the back of the van and music was played.  It transpired that the road was not hit again until 7.30 the next morning!

The Franziskaner is nothing like your stereotype blues club that is usually visualised as a ramshackle hole-in-the-wall joint with worn out barstools that smells as funky as the music played.  The only similarity is they serve cheap beer and hard whisky in a smoke-filled room all night long and they love blues.

Following the impromptu music session, Whiskey and Bluegrass, were asked to give an official acoustic blues session and we went along to support.  The place was crowded mainly with Spanish, but also there were half a dozen of us Brits and a good smattering of German.  It is in small towns like this that the audience seem to appreciate authentic Blues more than in the main resorts.

The gig went well and everyone had the chance to hear where the roots of the material originated with sounds from the southern Delta.  The boys turned up with just a box of harps and two guitars, something unheard of especially from Whiskey who usually has six or seven guitars in tow.

The audience stomped along to the standards, which included “Mustang Sally,” “Call It Stormy Monday,” and of course, “Sweet Home Chicago” because they’re the songs that people know and want to hear.  In the main, they want music played by stereotypes of what blues musicians ought to look, you know the type, poor, uneducated men that drive beat-up Fords.  Most audiences don’t know whether the music is authentic or not when they hear them play but these two sound legit because music is their passion. As far as looks go, blues musicians come in all sizes and colours so these two kinda look the part and when not playing, like the majority of musicians have every day jobs like schoolteachers and computer programmers.

The session was supposed to finish at 11.30 but was still going strong when we left and the bar booked Whiskey and Bluegrass to play regular gigs, so the boys will be back in town each week for the foreseeable future.  This may not be a traditional blues club but it has all the ingredients needed, good food, good drink, a friendly atmosphere where locals and tourists alike can socialise and listen to the best in blues.  If you are in the area pop by and join in, if you are not in Tenerife, have a peek at the vids.

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