Messing Around with Ayahuesca

juaneco-y-su-combo

 

Whoa!

Hold on there! No work for me today! A day of unbridled hedonism awaits. Stand back, it could get messy (but don’t worry, I’ve put out the polythene sheets, Dexter style, no one will ever know…)

Actually I’ve already taken the dog and the boy up to the woods for a run, and listened to the first disk of the fantastic freakbeat comp “Real Life Permanent Dreams”. I’m hoping to get onto listening to the recording I made of Saturday’s British Sea Power gig, but for now it’s all about the Chicha…

Juaneco y Su Combo

Juaneco was in real life Amazonian Juan Wong Pololizio who took over his father’s pick-up band in the sixties, and re-branded them a “combo” in the style of the day. They quickly became the Peruvian Ventures (try Googling that…!), taking locally-sourced toons and frying them up with wah-wah guitars and farfisa organ sounds. At first listen they’re a little cheesy, but at the time I’d guess they were pretty wild and new to the South American public.juaneco-coleccion%2Bde%2Boro

I gather where Juaneco and his Combo were doing something a bit different is in the way they took what would’ve been brass riffs and translating them into Noe Fachin’s spiky and intelligent guitar sound, and Juaneco’s own meandering, reedy organ. Fachin was known locally as “The Witch Doctor” because of his wild lifestyle and enthusiastic consumption of local psychedelic, ayahuasca.

Tragically, five members of the band, including the Witch Doctor himself, died in a classic rock and roll plan crash in 1976, leaving Juaneco to recruit a new band and plough on. (See here for a proper history…)

I can find no videos of the band online, (although there are a few of latter day Juaneco y Su Combo line-ups, now led by Juaneco’s son), so I’ll go with these two clips, the first of which, Me Robaron Mi Runamula, intersperses photos of the Combo with various Peruvian ladies in exotic costumes. (Lovers of Calexico will certainly recognise a few reference points, here…):

 

The second clip, their best known tune, Vacilando con Ayahuesca, is a slower, more sinister version than the one on the Barbes Records’ collection, Masters of Chicha, I got from Emusic (which I can heartily recommend, btw):

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