Redetejas – Rooftop concerts

It´s every Brit´s dream to live somewhere in the sun with a roof terrace or a balcony. My dearest and bestest friend in London, who shall be known in this blog as ´the Windy Piper´, loves nothing more than wending away hours on his tastefully landscaped and expensively furnished West London roof top, despite temperatures that would leave most Sevillanos reaching for their winter coat.

Cut to the skylines of Seville where roof top terraces are a plenty but rather than being cherished havens for lounging and taking in starlit nights, they are on the whole desolate, sun bleached spaces, strewn with washing lines and the odd wobbly plastic chair. I include my own roof top with in this category. I´ve had big plans from the start of creating an urban garden, with a hint of Morocco. But it´s gone little further than a half thought idea and remains to this day tired, abandoned by good taste and barely frequented.

This lowly state of the highest spots in the building hasn´t gone unnoticed and Seville cultural trailblazers ´La Matraka´ have taken matters into their hands in the form of ´Redetejas´, an initiative to reclaim the usage of private ´azoteas´ (roof top terraces) for cultural purposes. They´ve created a global network in which ordinary folk can organise cultural events, be it live music, theatre, comedy etc, using as a setting their own roof top terrace. Redetejas provides the framework, but its up to the individual organisers to decide on the content and format.

Last Saturday saw the launch of Redetejas Vol 7 in Seville, kicking off the 2015 season of mini azotea events. After parting with just 3 Euros and picking up my wrist band and map that afternoon, I pitched up at what looked like an office building on Calle Cuna within spitting distance of Plaza Salvador. A mini bar selling the ubiquitous botellines of Cruz Campo was present, along with some fake grass and plastic chairs. And at just after 8pm the first cultural encounter kicked off with ´Mansilla y los Espias´ taking to what I can only loosely call a stage.

With these kind of events, the calibre of the acts can be a bit hit or miss and I must admit when I saw the drawn features and intense stare of who I could only imagine was Mansilla, a saxophonist who wouldn´t have looked out of place in a semana santa band and the beaming, wild locked, double bassist, I wasn´t holding out much hope. But contrary to my misconceptions, they were mesmerising. Front man Fernando Mansilla, performed in dry, desolate spoken word, piling on layer upon layer of existential angst, coupled with biting commentary on the hapless state of modern society. The forty or minutes or so breezed by in a second, all against the dramatic cityscapes of church towers and the cathedral.
Next stop was a ten minutes stroll to Calle Jerónimo Hernandez, where after entering the front door we found ourselves winding our way up some stairs and onto a boho, plant bedecked private roof top. This time it was jazz courtesy of Miguelo Delgado and Anita Franklin who started off with some of their own compositions and filled the rest of the time with some soul classics. And the final stop off was the roof top bar of de-rigeur, hang out ´Micro Teatro´ which wasn´t so much a private space, but cosy and intimate none-the-less. Performing there were forces of nature ´La Maravilla Gipsy Trio´ who are currently riding the quest of the Balkan gypsy musical wave. More than just a music trio, they are are a full blown, entertainment act, complete with well thought out jokes, audience participation and a small boy called Martin playing a plastic accordian. I must make special mention of percussionist Rafael Rivera´s disturbingly mobile eye brows and facial plasticity, which had me transfixed while disgusted at the same time.
The Redetejas season goes on for the whole summer, not just in Seville but all over Spain and they´ve even made it as far as Mexico. As well as attendees and artists, the organisers are always on the look out for people who are interested in coming on board and organising an event on their own azotea. Or if you just want to go along and check out one of their roof top routes, go straight to the website where you have to register to get more details and then it´s just a matter of enjoying a night of intimate, roof top magic.

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