Botafogo turns 50 with the blues and returns after a heart attack with a song by Luis Aguilé

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For the guitarist and songwriter Miguel “Botafogo” Vilanovathe presentation of his album Heretic It has special significance in several respects: celebrates 50 years as a professional musician and, moreover, this work number 20 in his discography It is his first album after suffering a heart attack.

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Don Vilanova is one of the great guitarists of blues and rock, artist committed to his music, critical of the system and staunch defender of the environment. “I don’t want to do business with Monsanto and keep poisoning our fields,” he sings I do not want.

Don Miguel "Botafogo" Vilanova.  Photo: Emmanuel Fernandez

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Don Miguel “Botafogo” Vilanova. Photo: Emmanuel Fernandez

Botafogo will be presented this Thursday 9 February, at 8.30 pm, at Café Berlin with a band that will include guitarist and former Memphis musician Lucas Sedler as a special guest.

From heart attack to disc

In late 2019, the bluesman suffered a heart attack which required surgery in which two stents were placed after spending nearly two days with symptoms.

Then came the quarantine and the possibility of forced rest allowed him to work on a handful of compositions. “During those months that we were locked up, I composed 10 songs that are the core of this new album,” the artist told Clarín.

-How was the health situation you experienced?

-I started feeling “strange” just before leaving the house to participate in a streaming for Pappo’s anniversary, organized by Luciano Napolitano, his son. I took an aspirin and the symptoms disappeared. For the doctors I streamed the heart attack.

The next day, when I got up, I still had a very strange feeling and Alejandra, my girlfriend, took me to the Adventist clinic, which is my correspondent for Sadaic, where they saved my life. They operated on me and put in a couple of stents.

-Aside from that, wasn’t Luciano Napolitano in prison?

-I was on an electronic anklet and with streaming clearance.

Botafogo is one of the great Argentine blues and rock guitarists.  He now has a new album, "Heretic".  Photo: Emmanuel Fernandez

Botafogo is one of the great Argentine blues and rock guitarists. He now has a new album, “Heretic”. Photo: Emmanuel Fernandez

-Did you change anything after that condition?

-Some things have changed, but not many, for example I stopped going to the gym where I used to do irons. I can’t make that kind of effort anymore, but I have a normal life, I ride a bike and generally feel good.

-It’s inside?

-I’ve never been a person who stopped considering death as a travel companion and I wasn’t afraid, I was calm. I have become more aware of how fragile everything is except life. You feel omnipotent and you are not. But it hasn’t changed my lifestyle much.

-Your new album “Hereje” is after all what you experienced?

-Except two songs, which were already recorded, everything is after my heart attack. It’s an album that covers different aspects of my life. When the pandemic started to pass I went into the studio and started working on ten songs that I had composed in those months. I asked my son, Andrés Vilanova, to add batteries and that’s how he started to take shape.

the new album

The album, released in November 2022, opens with to the rhythm of love, a funky in which he tells this story. “You can see that there was something saved that at some point had to be exploited,” adds the artist, who just turned 67.

The cover of the new album by Don Vilanova Botafogo.

The cover of the new album by Don Vilanova Botafogo.

“A hidden pain in the heart/ suddenly one day it broke out/ A child as bright as the sun/ took it in her hands and healed it/ Now my heart beats to the rhythm of love”, sings Botafogo in to the rhythm of lovea powerful funk with arrangements for winds by Santiago Castellani.

“There is also another problem, breeze of lovededicated to Alejandra -I think I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for her- and in which my nephew Franco Lombardi plays keyboards”, commented the musician.

In general, in these difficult moments, the reference to God is almost insurmountable. “In to the rhythm of love I mean Him when I say that the conductor gave me an extra twist”, comments the artist who is also satisfied with the participation of some artists invited for this album because they fit perfectly into the concept of this recording work.

“Participating musicians are invited for the characteristics of their style and the quality of their voices. For example, when I was on the show Lito Vitale intervenes with him to see if he wanted to play Heretic and put keyboards at Chump modificationsone of the few instrumental songs on the album,” he said.

And he continues: “When I visited Javier Calamaro in his show I invited him to sing with me black sheepa song that I think fits perfectly with the timbre of his voice,” commented the musician.

“With Piti Fernández whom I met personally during the celebration of the 30th anniversary of Mississippi, at Luna Park; I later met him in that streaming dedicated to Pappo and he brought us closer to a relationship of mutual respect. I asked him if she wanted to sing we were born brothersa composition that covertly points to the new world order and the resistance it provokes,” said the musician.

Why did you put “heretic”?

-It has to do with one of the songs on the album, Mister President, a little known song because it is banned in some countries and so on It was written by songwriter Luis Aguiléartist who has always been associated with Canale 9 afternoons and past programmes.

However, he wrote an excellent letter dedicated to one president. It’s from the 90s and when I met her I said to myself: I want to sing it and I put a blues on it as a base and it fits perfectly, it’s written very well. For someone who plays the blues it may seem like heresy to do a song by Luis Aguilé, but it’s excellent.

lost the romance

Fifty years ago, Miguel Vilanova made his professional debut as Pappo’s bassist in a few shows in Uruguay; where a close bond of friendship was established that transcended music, although it was always in the first place, which has been maintained over time and only the death of the guitarist, in February 2005, was broken.

-With fifty years of career, how was the rock and blues scene in your early days and how is it today?

-I think it is much more solid than 50 years ago, there is an important variety of genres that have their audiences and great bands in each of them, but the romance that existed when I started my professional career has been lost .

Miguel Botafogo, nicknamed Don Vilanova in recent times.  Photo: Emmanuel Fernandez

Miguel Botafogo, nicknamed Don Vilanova in recent times. Photo: Emmanuel Fernandez

“The scene was different”

“When I started in 1973, the scene was very different. Quite small, with little information, I remember there was Pelo magazine and then El Expreso Imaginario and a few theaters to play. At that time, we made some posters, put them up in Cabildo and Juramento, in Pacífico and something in the center, and the theater was almost full, but the important information was spread by word of mouth,” Vilanova said.

His first recording was a single with Avalancha, in 1975. “It ended up being banned because of the lyrics of the song The RussianHe added.

During the dictatorship I went to Spain where I found a much more professional scene, with much more production, where bands had their own managers, they recorded. When I came back in 1985 I started with the project Gala Peach and I found that there was more music, more bands, more musicians and new places. There has been a democratic spring and there has been more access to recording, albeit on independent labels with the perennial distribution problems. I was lucky enough to be a friend of Pappo’s who took me to play with him and this gave me more space as a musician”, recalls the artist.

“Then there was the blues boom in the 90s, which gave us a lot of support. At that time there were groups that strengthened the scene such as Memphis, Mississippi was emerging, there were the Blacanblus, the Yaría Brothers, us with Durazno and as always Pappo, father of the blues in Argentina. We recall that first he played as an opening act for BB King and then, to clarify his place on the scene, he invited him to his show at Madison Square Garden,” said the guitarist.

For Vilanova, that decade was fundamental for some artistic aspects: “I think that during the 90s music in general established itself in a very solid way; excellent bands of all styles, heavy metal, reggae, jazz, tango, folklore; Excellent expressions were born in all genres, with high-level musicians. There was a real flowering that the public accompanied and that has been maintained over time”.

“I’ll give you an example: The last two times Eric Clapton came to South America I was his opening act in Chile. The first, in 2003 or 2004, was held in the infamous National Stadium with a 1,500-person VIP who was full and few other people. In 2011 he came back and I was a fan and they had to change the stadium for a 10,000 seat that wasn’t even full. On those dates he was playing the River to sold out houses. The people of this country are a wonderful audience,” concludes Botafogo.

Source: Clarin

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