Spicy Spanish Music

By local contributor
Cacinda Maloney

It’s no secret that I am a big lover of Spanish guitar, flamenco, and trendy Latino music. When I was a little girl, my world-traveling grandmother came for a visit to my dusty, small Texas town. She had freshly returned from Spain, whereas, I had never left the state of Texas.

I think I was 6 or 7 years old. I will never forget standing along the chain link fence, with my fingers curled into the metal netting as she stepped off the plane onto the tarmac. I could see her in the distance, smiling and waving at me in her 60’s posh flying outfit with cat-eye frame glasses.

Once through the gate, she handed me the gift that sparked my curiosity. It ignited in me a love for travel and all things Spanish. The gift was a Spanish female flamenco dancer doll in her blazing red dress with a male doll in all black and a matching red-accented vest. The set of dolls came with a Spanish bull. I was mesmerized, as I had never seen anything like it. All my dolls were pale white with blonde or brown hair and blue or brown eyes. I could only imagine where she had been and what Spain was like.

Later I read about the flamenco dancers and their music, learning that the flamenco’s roots are somewhat mysterious with different theories of origin. Most say they come from the Andalusian region of Spain, and that the music comes out of the suffering and survival of the gypsies, the Moors and the Jews who had entered Spain through its porous Southern borders, as well as the indigenous Andalusians. Together all of them influenced the creation of what flamenco is today.  

I find something so intoxicating about the Spanish dancers, the music and the cries heard during their performances. While women in flame-red dresses twirl on the floor, eyes fierce and feet stomping, the men howl gut-wrenching sounds to the beat of the Spanish guitar. The sounds of the wailing help you understand the suffering of their hearts and souls. This is where the magic begins and is what captivates me so. It taps into my hopeless romantic side, making me forget time and place. And although I am of Anglo-American lineage at least fourteen generations deep, sometimes I like to think that I am Spanish in my soul, by osmosis, if not by genetics!

Fortunately, I can get my fill of Spanish music and dancing right here in Scottsdale.  These restaurants and bars offer an authentic entertainment experience, paired with scrumptious food and drink.

Mbar at Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia

Since Spanish guitar is one of my favorite styles in the Spanish genre, let’s start with the Mbar at Montelucia. This gorgeous, Spanish hacienda-style property features live music on Saturday nights from 7-10 p.m.  Currently, the talented Alex Hristov plays Spanish guitar on these nights, in a relaxed setting where you can order cocktails and tapas.

Toro Latin Restaurant & Rum Bar at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

At this luxury Scottsdale resort’s restaurant Toro (pictured above), they offer Saturday and Sunday brunch with live music from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., featuring a Latin trio band. They also offer live Latin music every Friday and Saturday night.

Sofrita

This Puerto Rican restaurant in nearby Fountain Hills offers an eclectic mix of Latin-style music with a Spanish guitarist and live flamenco shows every Thursday night. In addition to the great food and entertainment, the patio offers views of one of the world’s tallest fountains, which spouts every hour on the hour for 15 minutes.

Tapas Papa Fritas

You can also take in a night at Tapas Papa Fritas, located on the Scottsdale Waterfront.  On Thursday to Sunday nights during the season and Friday to Sunday nights during the summer, they have Spanish guitarists, flamenco dancers and, on Sunday nights, a Cuban band.

A Walk Down Memory Lane...

Living in the Valley of the Sun for more than 20 years, I would be remiss not to mention the Spanish Guitar player that sparked my interest in the early 90s at an upscale resort in Scottsdale. Esteban captured my attention immediately, with his deep voice, mysterious black sunglasses at night, Zorro hat and black clothing. Who could forget hearing him play weekends at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale? He stopped performing there in 2000, although he continues to occasionally play in Sedona at Sounds Bite Grill.