After more than two years away, I finally made it back to Seville.
And Seville, I had no idea how much I’d missed you until I was back on those cobbled streets again. Despite the stresses of Covid, which no nation has of course escaped, alegría appeared to be waiting for me around every corner.
While it’s not really fair to compare the suburbs of North London with Seville, where no one looks you in the eye, weeks go past without a glimpse of sunshine, and even before Covid, it wasn’t uncommon to spend most nights of the week watching telly on the sofa, the gaping contrast made my return even more sweet.
But the moment I really knew I was ‘home’ again was when I took my bike for an MOT at the blink-and-you-miss-it repair shop at the top of Calle Matahacas.
The repair shop was tiny and looked closed from the outside. But I fought off my English sense of reserve and pushed the doors open, where inside a rather convivial chap agreed to give my two wheeled mount a quick going over.
As jokes were cracked and good humour filled the air, it was clear this guy was brimming with more than the average share of ‘buen rollo’.
It turns out that this was Johnny Scarlata, a legendary Sevillano singer of the 1980s and 90s (or so my Seville muso friends tell me).
I asked Johnny to sing me a song. Which of course he did. I was in Seville for goodness sake – who doesn’t like to bust out a song at a moment’s notice (me included)?
But nothing prepared me for Johnny Scarlata in action.
Smooth in tone, Johnny’s voice sounded somewhere between an old crooner and the Bee Gees as he serenaded me with his own compositions.
But in what I can only imagine must have contributed to his legendary status, Johnny sings in a language only he understands, mimicking sounds from English and American songs. It sounds bonkers, but somehow it works.
I have no idea whether Johnny achieved any notable success in his heyday and it appears it’s been a while since he’s done a full on concert. But if you head over to his bicycle repair shop at Calle Matahacas 6 and you ask, you might just get a private show (complete with dark shades, but probably not stage cape).
However, I am going to put myself out on a limb and say it’s time Johnny Scarlata made a come back. Let’s make it happen people.
Calle Matahacas 6, Tel 635 10 29 24
Johnny’s Facebook page