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La Musgana

The musical traditions of the Castillan region of central Spain are preserved through the music of La Musgana. Performing a full spectrum of Castillan music, the group incorporates dance tunes, love songs, and wedding music. According to the L.A. Times, La Musgana's "concerts are always a lesson in the roots of Iberian history as well as a joyous flirtation with bits of funk and rock." Perhaps this is what Jimi Hendrix envisioned when he sang "Spanish Castle Magic." Dirty Linen had a similar view of the band, writing, "Their sound is a rumble of percussion behind a flood of melody, capable of inciting almost any crowd to move their bodies." The Free-Reed Review called the band's music "an enchanting celebration of indigenous Spanish music merged with gypsy, Moorish, and Celtic influences."

The vision that led to the formation of La Muscagna was conceived by Enrique Almendros, an Appalachian dulcimer player who switched from playing traditional Irish music to Castillan music after hearing a Spanish tune on his grandmother's radio. Tracking down the performer, he spent many months studying the musical traditions of his homeland. Almendros joined fiddler-turned-bagpipe player Jose Marti Climent and guitarist-turned-hurdy gurdy player Rafa Martin to form La Muscagna in 1986. Six months later, the group expanded with the addition of flute player Jaime Munoz and bassist Carlos Beceiro.

Releasing a self-titled debut album in 1988, La Muscagna quickly rose to the upper echelon of Spanish music. The success of the album resulted in the band winning the Spanish National Folk Award for young performers and being signed to the Radio Nacional Espana record label. Their second album, El Paso de la Estanigua, followed in 1989.

Shortly after the release of La Muscagna's third album, Lubican, released on the Xenophile-Green Linnet label in 1991, original members Climont and Martin were replaced by accordion player Cuco Perez and composer, percussionist, and hurdy gurdy player Luis Delgado. The group performed in the United States for the first time a year later. La Muscagna's fourth album, Las Seis Tentaciones, an all-instrumental effort released in 1998, was described in the Green Linnet catalogue as "infectious, driving music for weddings, street festivals, and religious ceremonies delivered in the form of evocative melody lines underlaid by hypnotic rhythmic accompaniment." ~ Craig Harris, Rovi
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