Dubbed the "King of Latin Rock", Javier Vargas and his blues band will be performing in Palma tonight and Javier is promising "something special".
Javier Vargas was born in Madrid shortly after his parents had left Buenos Aires, to where they had migrated some years before. Nine years later, the family returned to Argentina and it is there where Javier started playing the guitar.
"My neighbours had a rock band and I watched them rehearse and heard the music they were playing and listening to and I decided there and then that I wanted to be a musician. I managed to persuade my father to buy me a Spanish guitar when I was nine and I began teaching myself how to play.
"I did go to a few classes but I am self taught," Javier told the Bulletin prior to his arrival in Majorca where has played many times before and has a large following.
His first musical influences can be traced to Argentine rock of the late '60s and early '70s, bands such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Cream, Rolling Stones, The Doors, and musicians like Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana or B.B. King, many of whom he went on to perform with and are still powerful sources of inspiration.
In the '70's, Javier decided to go to the US to study music. He lived in Nashville, Tennessee, and in Los Angeles. He played in clubs and took part in recordings as a session guitarist. Each night he played in jam sessions with American and English artists and met important musicians like Alvin Lee, Roy Buchanan, Canned Heat, who also influenced his style.
Since strumming his very first chords and forming his first band at school, he has released a host of records, eight of which have gone platinum, and tonight, apart from his greatest hits, he will be playing a number of tracks from his new album and he will also be supported by Mick Jagger’s nephew John.
"I played with Mick about a year ago and he then got in contact with me to see if I could would do some work with John. He’s a great guitarist but also has a great blues voice and he will be singing tonight. We got together, started jamming, writing some songs and we now have over 16 tracks, 14 of which we are going to be laying down on an album later this year.
"He’s extremely talented and will be a name everyone will be eventually talking about. He has a great feel to him and his voice and has been influenced by music from all over the world, numerous cultures. I guess he is an African, reggae and blues man with a real Memphis soul."
Despite his Latin roots, most of Javier’s songs are in English, or Spanglish, as he says, although a few are in Castellano and 'MexiEnglish'.
"The only languages I can’t or don’t sing in are French and Italian." Shame because his next gig is at a huge rock festival in Bordeaux. But having a global market in which he has sold tens of thousands of albums, Spanglish works best.
In February 1994, Blues Latino was released with collaborations from Flaco Jiménez, Chris Rea, Junior Wells and Andrés Calamaro and was widely acclaimed by a very diverse audience and earned Javier his first Grammy nomination and that was his big break. After that he went on to perform alongside many of the great rock and blues players including the likes of Prince.
Larry Graham, then musical director of The Artist’s band, The New Power Generation, introduced Javier to The Artist (formerly known as Prince), and invited Javier to play along in several songs in his concert Jam of the Year in the Palacio de los Deportes in Madrid, as he toured Europe and North and South America.
"I love being on the road, playing live and meeting the public. There’s something really special about it. Yes, we have to spend time in the studio recording and rehearsing but I’m happiest on stage with my band. It’s a shame we’ve lost so many of the great rock and blues musicians, but there are some still around like Clapton and I am sure there will be more coming through in the future. But in the meantime keep an eye on John Jagger."
Javier is playing the Trui Teatre on Friday, 20 July at 9.30pm.