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His name is that of a drifter—an everyman’s first name—followed by a canine surname. Juan Perro, Santiago Auserón’s post-Radio Futura artistic alter-ego, turned his gaze from the glowing horizons of technological optimism, to an ancient troubadour tradition. First there was Juan Zorro, “the fox”, a medieval Galician troubadour, one of the first singers of the canidae tradition. Over the years, there have been other lone and hungry literary stalkers among us: from the Cynics to Kafka’s musical dogs, to the reflections of “Cipión and Berganza” on Cervantes.
But the tradition sought by Juan Perro for his first electrical endowment is that of Cuba’s soneros, whom Santiago Auserón first encountered on a trip to Cuba in 1984. It was in Cuba that Juan Perro heard black and mixed-raced performers who sang in the Spanish language, but whose rhythmic roots, like that of so many other musical forms, were in Africa.
Under his rather shaggy alias, as that of a medieval troubadour, a Delta blues-man, or a sonero from Cuba’s Oriente, Santiago Auserón’s song-writing follows deep undercurrents of traditional music, as obvious as they are obscured by a modern world of non-stop news cycles, as he searches for an artistic future with firm footing on both shores.
Like an old bone, the richest of our rhythms and the most finely crafted of our melodies must be dug out from beneath the rubble of a broken trail left behind by a careless music industry. For this reason, the past of our own traditional and folk music, as well as its future, must be rediscovered or reinvented every ten years — the dream of a utopian island that lies just within the bounds of the possible.