Tuesday, February 5, 2008

And Speaking of Trains...

I found out last night that a fond friend is on her way to Colombia to perform at the IberoAmerican Theater Festival, billed as the largest theater festival in the world.

Sharing what little I knew about Colombia (mostly gleaned from the pages of 100 Years of Solitude) I remembered the tale of the amazing 1993 Mano Negra musical expedition. The Spanish punk band, in the full throes of their success at the time, commandeered an old freight train, which they rebaptised "l'Expreso de hielo" (the Ice Express) and embarked on a trip through rural Colombia on the country's rusting old railway lines. They ran the show like a circus, randomly arriving in small mountain towns and opening the box cars for side shows, freak shows and opening acts. The day-long spectacle would culminate in Mano Negra's famously riotous performances.

Midway through the tour, the band was joined by the journalist Ramon Chao (father of band members Manu and Antione Chao) who wrote the book "Un Train de glace et de feu" based on his observations of the ambitious journey. By all accounts, the "Ice Express" was an exhausting, often grueling, experience which ultimately led to the collapse of the band. I can only hope for something equally momentous for my theatrical pal.

Meanwhile, this is an excellent video of Mano Negra's biggest hit, "La Mala Vida."

All my heart to Pepita, who first told me about this Spanish punk experiment.

No comments: