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Johnny Pugh

The excitement is building up in Jumilla as people spot the posters advertising the first live performance of the Johnny Pugh Band in Bodegas Alceño.  Johnny and his wife Jane only moved here in January this year but already they have made many Spanish and British friends, who can’t wait to hear him sing and play the saxophone with his new line-up.

Johnny was the lead singer with the Climax Blues Band for five years, as well as playing the saxophone and harmonica with them.  He has an impressive CV, having also worked as a session musician with the likes of  Rose Royce, the Four Tops, Ben E. King, Martha Reeves and the Real Thing, to mention just a few.

Click on this link to hear Johnny and the Climax Blues Band at the Rock & Blues Festival 2011: youtube video.

Tickets for the concert cost 14€ including tapas and wine, with the chance to try the new Alceño Rosado 2012.  You can buy your tickets at the bodega at Calle Barrio Iglesias no 55 in Jumilla, or in Los Chilines wine shop at Avenida Levante no 69,  Jumilla.  Tickets are also on sale in Get I.T. Connected in Pinoso, tel: 966 192 953.  The date to put in your diary is Saturday 27 October at 21.00.

To listen to more music from Johnny, click on this link: this is from a gig a few years ago.

If you would like more information about the concert or about the Johnny Pugh Band, please contact Jane at:

Finally, this is the poster to look out for.  I am proud of the fact that my talented friend José María decided to use one of my photos, though he is responsible for the brilliant design!

I can promise you a great night out – hope to see you at Johnny’s gig on 27 October!

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So what is your favourite kind of music? Some people find that question easy to answer.  My friend Wendy’s husband Con is a jazz fanatic, with too many albums for me to count them all: I’m not sure whether we are talking 100s here or even 1,000s!  My father loved classical music and would sit listening to his records in the dining room whenever my brothers and I had “Top of the Pops” on in the living room. 

Showing my age now (!) - I still love listening to music from the 60s, plus some light classical music, in memory of my Dad.  However, since moving to Spain, I have also got into flamenco in a big way.  I don’t think it is a case of which music I prefer, it’s more a matter of what mood I am in, and I am sure that many other people feel the same way.

I have pasted some links below to videos on youtube that were taken at the recent Música entre Vinos concerts, with music varying from flamenco to jazz via swing.  Needless to say, I enjoyed all these concerts even though the music was very different. 

I’d love you to tell me which is your favourite video - and why.  (Scroll to the end of this post for the comments box.)

Casa de la Ermita, where Orquesta Brass Ensemble played

  Click here to play video: Orquesta Brass Ensemble

With friends, waiting to hear Al Golpe at Bodegas JM Martínez Verdú

Click here to play video: Al Golpe 

Bodegas Alceño - Jumilla Black Band

 Click here to play video: Jumilla Black Band

John and I waiting for vino at Bodegas BSI

Bodegas Viña Elena

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We had such a wonderful evening last night that I don’t know how I can possibly condense it all into one post.  We had two events to attend with our friends Lesley and John (thank you for chauffeuring us Lesley!) both of which were being held outside, so we were grateful that it was another lovely summer’s evening.

Our friend Cristina was getting married under a pergola at Salones Pio XII and we didn’t want to miss seeing her even though we had booked tickets for our final Música entre Vinos, which was due to start at the same time.  The bride was traditionally late, though early by Jumillano standards – however she does come from near Barcelona, which probably explains it.  Cristina looked stunning, in a very elegant understated way, as she arrived in an open-topped sports car. 

Here comes the bride!

The occasion was enhanced by our friend Jaqui singing a couple of songs, and although the civil ceremony was in Spanish we could follow what was happening, more or less: the moment when they both said “Si”, the handing over of the rings, the new husband kissing his bride and finally the signing of the register.  We witnessed the moment when they became husband and wife, before we discreetly slipped away.  We had brought some rice to throw, however when we spotted at least two large boxes of rice sitting on a wall behind the pergola we reckoned there were plenty of other people willing to carry out this duty.

Bodegas Viña Elena were hosting Música entre Vinos for the first time, so we were curious to see how well they coped.  We have visited the bodega before, so we weren’t too worried about missing the tour, and Loles had kindly confirmed that the concert wouldn’t be starting until at least 21.15.

The organisation of the whole evening was superb, starting with the moment when we arrived at 21.15 and were efficiently directed first to the car park and then to the collection point to pick up the all-essential wine glasses.  Background music was being played as we headed towards the bodega, so we knew that Loles had been correct in saying that if we arrived at that time we wouldn’t miss any of the concert. 

We had timed our arrival to perfection.  We were trying the first of four wines - Paco Pacheco Blanco 2010 - and accepting some of the tasty food on offer, when the musicians started tuning up.   The catering had been done by Media Luna, who brought out plate after plate of delicious food: including spoons of scrumptious seafood, chunks of Manchego cheese, plenty of jamón for the carnivores, and cubes of juicy melon.  We were impressed by the Bodega’s Tinto Jóven, which we reckon is one of the best from 2010.

Bodegas Viña Elena

There was a great ambiance and I would say that this was one of the most enjoyable events we have attended during Música entre Vinos this year.   Part of this was due to the fact that so many of our friends were there enjoying themselves, part of this was due to the friendly welcome we received from Paco Pacheco and his family and part of this was due to the music from Cantos  Jazz Fusión, playing classics like “Bye Bye Black Bird” and “Autumn Leaves”.

We mentioned this to our friend Pedro, President of the Ruta del Vino, towards the end of the evening – adding that we preferred it when busloads of fellow Brits weren’t around, especially those who complained about the lack of chairs!  Having said that, after standing up for well over three hours in my high heels, I was grateful when a couple of people left and we were able to grab their chairs to sit down for a while.

Our final verdict is that Música Entre Vinos 2011 was an outstanding success, with a winning combination of good wine and food accompanied by good music, and that each year it seems to get even better.  We can’t wait until Música Entre Vinos 2012 – and promise to publish full details here, as soon as Pedro emails me!

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Why part 2½ you may ask?  Well my post about last Saturday’s Música entre vinos should have been part 2, but I got carried away and named it Saturday Night Fever instead.  I couldn’t decide between calling this post Música entre Vinos part 2 or part 3 so I decided to compromise.  I am British after all, and we like to find a diplomatic solution where possible.

So how did last night’s event in Bodegas Alceño go?  How did it compare with the seven events in total that we had already attended this year?  John rated it no 3, however I decided it was equal second: being diplomatic again.

We expected the organisation to be good, which it was.  We knew that we would enjoy the wines, which we did.  Juan Miguel is meticulous about how his wines are stored and served so that you can enjoy them at their best, and he always delivers.  As soon as we spotted the familiar figure of the boss of Casa Canales with his efficient staff, we were reassured that the food would be good too.

 We have enjoyed listening to the music of Jumilla Black Band in previous years, so we knew they wouldn’t disappoint.  My only criticism is that I would have preferred them not to wear their trade-mark black clothes, as they don’t show up very well in my photos!

Our friends John and Lesley have visitors so they decided to give this event a miss, making us the only “ingleses” there last night.  Fortunately we didn’t need them to chauffeur us this time as Bodegas Alceño is within walking distance of our apartment.  Officially the bodega’s name is Bodegas Pedro Lúis Martínez, however they are better known as Alceño, which is a far snappier title.

Bodegas Alceño's back yard

The evening started well, as Casa Canales had already set out plates of savoury pastries and almonds, and soon we were enjoying a glass of vino blanco to wash them down with.  We were outside, and it was a very warm evening, so we both appreciated the perfectly chilled wine. 

We were joined by some friendly Jumillanos, who soon took us under their wing.  One of them hunted down a bottle of chilled rosado, which they told us was “fresco” and perfect for such a balmy night.  A plate of jamón appeared, which they offered to me, however I declined and explained that I didn’t eat any type of meat.  Seconds later one of the señoras caught the attention of a waitress who had a plate of cheese and purloined it for me.

We were also joined by a friendly black and white dog, who bore a startling resemblance to our own dog Lisa.  So much so that I almost said to John “You did lock the door behind you, didn’t you?”

Once again there was a great atmosphere, helped by the swing music that we were listening to, with everybody tapping their feet or swaying in time to the music.  The food kept coming with hardly a break, and in spite of our best efforts we were having to pass plates on to the next table where a group of young people were willing to help us out.

As the temperature dropped, most people decided to taste the vino tinto, which was being served natural.  For the benefit of readers living in the UK I would like to point out that, even though it was now after 11pm, cardigans and jackets were still superfluous.  Instead of being hot, it was now pleasantly warm.

Juan Miguel had a quick word when passing by, advising us that the Tinto Dulce 2010 was muy bien.  It arrived just in time to accompany the desserts and chocolate - and he was right: it was indeed very good.  As, of course, was the whole evening.

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Saturday night is party night in Jumilla – or it has been so far this month.  We thought that last week’s event at Bodegas JM Martínez Verdu would be hard to beat (what a party that was!) but Música entre Vinos at Bodegas Viña Campanero last night was great fun too.  One advantage was the location, which is within walking distance of our apartment, so there was no rush to get there on time.  I have to confess that this is one of my favourite bodegas: it is the smallest one in the area, so a tour doesn’t take much time; we like their wines too, which is always a bonus; it is very friendly – even our dog Lisa is made to feel welcome by Pedro and his father, though we had to leave her behind on Saturday night! 

A lovely evening at Bodegas Viña Campanero

We had assumed that the concert was being held indoors, as has happened in previous years, but when we arrived we discovered that everything had been set up outside.  It had been a lovely hot day, and it was starting to become pleasantly cool when we arrived just after 8pm, so we had no objections to this change.  One of the joys of living in Spain is that summer evenings aren’t cold, so we can enjoy lots of outdoor events.  Even when we left the bodega after midnight, I didn’t need to wear the shawl I had taken.

I went in search of a bottle of water, so that we could all have a cold drink while waiting for the wine to be served.  Our friends Lesley and John had arrived before us, while Lesley’s son Nick and his friend Tracey weren’t due to arrive until 9pm.  None of us was surprised when Nick and Tracey arrived to find that they hadn’t actually missed anything – have I mentioned the fact that punctuality isn’t a Jumillano characteristic?

We all agreed that the wine was worth waiting for, though we couldn’t agree on our favourite.  I really appreciated the chilled white and rosado wines on such a warm evening, but John soon moved onto his usual red wines and pronounced the Tinto Joven as his favourite wine.  We expected the food to be good and we weren’t disappointed: I particularly enjoyed the tiny portions of tortilla, the cheeses and the churros, which were served in traditional style with hot chocolate at the end of the evening. 

An unexpected bonus was the arrival of our friends Jaqui and Melissa with a couple of our Spanish neighbours. plus we saw lots of other familiar faces.  We heard a few other English voices, however I suspect that we were easily outnumbered by the Spanish community, as there aren’t that many British people (or indeed other foreigners) living in this area.

Andrés and Cristóbal were joined by a friend for this number

The music was provided by Andrés Martínez and Cristóbal Cutillas, who played some brilliant riffs on his guitar.  The infectious music soon had the appreciative audience nodding in time to the beat and rumour has it a couple of Brits were spotted dancing, along with several Spanish couples.  There were loud calls of “Otras” at the end of the evening, and the duo happily obliged.

We were glad that we didn’t have too far to go home, as we have another late night ahead of us.  One of our favourite groups Al Golpe is playing tonight, to bring the Fiestas de San Fermín to a close, and they aren’t due to start performing until 22.30.  It’s a good thing that we don’t have anything on the agenda for tomorrow morning!

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For John and me - and anybody else living on a restricted budget - one of the benefits of living in Spain is the cheap entertainment.  We have a wonderful theatre in town (Teatro Vico) and tickets for performances there don’t exactly break the bank, however we have two other theatres in Jumilla where entry is free.

Teatro Vico

 As part of their mandate, Spanish savings banks provide social, charitable and cultural services.  Both CAM and CajaMurcia in Jumilla have exhibition halls where art and photographic exhibitions can be held, and they both have small theatres for concerts, drama and dance displays as well as many other events.

Last night we went to see a video presentation in CajaMurcia’s theatre, which is above their main Jumilla branch. They have an exhibition room there too, so beforehand we looked at the display of posters for this year’s Cabalgate Infantíl, which children from local schools had designed. The children’s procession takes place during Jumilla’s Fiesta de la Vendimia  in August, so naturally wine featured in many of the posters, but Bob Esponja also seemed to be a popular theme!

The video presentation was scheduled to start at 20.00, so being optimistic we wandered into the theatre at that time.  It looked promising, as we could see that everything had been set up and a few other people were already in there, however Jumillanos aren’t exactly noted for their punctuality.  The señor in charge kept looking at his watch, and we heard a few words being muttered about not everybody being there, and “puntualidad” was also mentioned.

Eventually the show began at 20.15, which is impressive by Jumilla’s standards.  The video showed scenes from Jumilla’s Fiesta de la Vendimia going back to the early 80s and finishing with last year’s celebrations.  There were plenty of laughs from the audience and a few sarcastic comments as people recognised the participants, which added to the atmosphere.  We recognised at least three people taking part in earlier years’ festivities.

Each video clip showed a procession with adults and children carrying baskets of grapes, a group treading the grapes (all looking remarkably similar to each other), lots of people kissing each other as they presented bouquets of flowers, glimpses of traditional dancers, plus the revellers getting covered in red wine during the Gran Cabalgata del Vino at the end of the fiesta.

Soaked in red wine

If you are coming to Spain for a holiday, or if you plan to move here permanently, I recommend finding out where your nearest savings bank is.  We have seen some fascinating exhibitions since we moved to Jumilla, and enjoyed some amazing concerts, and it hasn’t cost us a cent!

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Música entre Vinos was a brilliantly conceived idea from the Ruta del Vino Jumilla and is now in its fourth season.   Put simply, during the summer months a series of concerts are held in local Bodegas, where you can also taste wines from the Bodega accompanied by local dishes.  We had already enjoyed five of the first six events (we applied too late for the sixth one!) and were looking forward to the other four that we have booked.

We popped into Los Chilines wine shop for a word with José María on Friday.  He told us that tickets were still available for the Música entre Vinos events at Bodegas Viña Campanero next weekend and Bodegas Pedro Luis Martinez the following weekend, however only a couple are left for the closing event at Bodegas Bleda on 30th July.  This year’s events have proved extremely popular and most have sold out well in advance.

Even more astonishing was the news that La Gran Cata, which is being held on 29th July, has already sold out.  Apparently there were 400 applications for the 250 tickets – luckily we had reserved tickets last week for ourselves and our friends Lesley and John!

On Saturday night we headed to Bodegas JM Martínez Verdú, hoping that the event would be as good as the one we attended there last year.  It was rather worrying when we drove through a downpour, as we suspected that the concert was going to be held outside.  We arrived to find our friend Fina looking anxiously at the sky.  She reassured us that our four reserved tickets were there, while muttering to us that she was nervous about the weather.

Inside the bodega

Fortunately the weather was on our side and we enjoyed a wonderful evening.  I have to say that the whole event exceeded our expectations: it was very well organised; the wine flowed; the food was absolutely delicious; the music was from the superb Flamenco group Al Golpe and we enjoyed watching Flamenco dancers too – and finally there was a wonderful atmosphere with so many people having a good time. 

The evening started with a tour of the bodega for those people who hadn’t visited it before.  The rest of us showed our tickets to get a wine glass and shortly afterwards the efficient, smiling staff wandered around with bottles of chilled white and rosado wines to top up our glasses.  That was a good start to the evening and it got even better when plates of food appeared.  The catering was provided by one of our favourite bars in Jumilla, Bar Paraiso. (When visitors want to taste authentic Spanish food in a typical Spanish bar, that’s where we take them, for the excellent value 8€ menú del día!)  

John, waiting with our friends Lesley and John, for the wine to appear!

We enjoyed some tiny empanadas (savoury pasties), what appeared to be mini sausage rolls (though I gave them a miss as I don’t eat meat) and the most delicious seafood vol au vents I have ever tasted.  I don’t know how many of the tiny vol au vents I ate, but every time they offered me another one I willingly accepted.  Yummy!

We then moved into the garden further down the road for the actual concert by Al Golpe.  Three coach-loads of British residents from Torrevieja on the coast had ventured inland for this event.  They had been  persuaded to come along by their Spanish teacher Begonia, who coincidentally is teaching Spanish to Lesley’s son Nick, who has just moved to Los Alcazares.

Once the concert started, the evening became very lively.  Al Golpe are a talented group of three young musicians from Jumilla.  I will give a link to a video that I took at the concert, but believe me they sound even better live, with an appreciative Spanish (and English!) audience.  To add to the experience there were a couple of lovely Flamenco dancers who, or so we were told, were the daughters of José María, the owner of the Bodega.

Flamenco dancers

While we were enjoying the concert, some good red wine was served (look out for Xenys, Xenysel or Calzás on the label, if you want to try their wines) and even more delicious food.  We had to smile when we overheard an English woman saying “they are bringing round bread and jam!”   Excuse me, Madam, it is a local delicacy of fried goat’s cheese topped with jam made from Monastrell grapes – and absolutely delicious.

Plate after plate of jámon, cold meats, cheese and tapas were brought round and, just when we thought we were full, they produced desserts!  Tiny dishes of lemon sorbet to refresh our palates were followed by arroz con leche, tarta moka and fresh fruit kebabs.

We all agreed that this was the best event so far, but we are going to three more this month so I will be reporting back on them over the next couple of weeks.

Video of Al Golpe


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