La fuente vieja s’alborotao, por que El Pinini s’ha emborrachado
The fountain is in uproar because El Pinini is drunk and singing, suggests the popular verse that has almost become his epitaph.
Fernando Peña Soto was a humble gypsy who, after consuming a satisfactory quantity of wine, would sing his cantiñas in the streets and bars of Utrera.
He was a unassuming buthcher and a father to nine children, and between them they were to create one of the most interesting chapters in flamenco history.
Not one shred of actual evidence remains of his singing; yet he is still revered in the town as one of the most significant singers of Utrera, and because he was patriarch to a family of flamenco performers that can be matched by few others.
To be a descendant of El Pinini seems to add a touch of royalty to a performer and the incalculable amount of illustrious members of this family that still live and perform flamenco in his mode is an enduring example of his legacy.
Most of this huge family still live in the same streets where they were raised and their children and grandchildren still respect and admire the tradition of this mystical man.
Even the youngest members of this family will be familiar with his name because it is still the topic of conversation in their homes and and I have a strong feeling that his name will be well-regarded for many years to come.
I first went to Utrera in search of the legend of La Fernanda and her sister Bernarda, whilst researching my first book concerning flamenco, and I was instantly seduced by the antiquainted atmosphere that seems to smother much of the town.
Every town in Andalucia has an old quarter that is dripping with tradition and in Utrera you are constantly reminded of the town’s association with flamenco.
Utrera has statues and monuments in commemoration of La Fernanda and Bernarda de Utrera, Bambino and Enrique Montoya as well as numerous plaques recalling the lives of flamenco artistes that were born in the town. Streets and avenues have also been given names in remembrance of these artistes and there is also a small park which has been dedicated to their honour. El Parque del muro artista flamencos is small area next to a childrens playground that has mosaic stars embedded in the floor in a similar fashion to Hollywood’s ‘Walk of fame’, where each star is in regognition of the achievments made by the individual whose name is on it.
The gypsies of Utrera are proud of their flamenco tradition and it would appear that they will never forget those who have made this town so special.
|La Fuente Vieja-Utrera|
The name of Utrera has always gleamed with a mystical supremacy where flamenco is concerned and today it has become a kind of home from home for me and I feel that I will not be the last non-Spanish flamenco afcionado to succumb to the powers of the town.
I have visited Utrera more times than any other place in Spain and my curiosity has transformed into a love and yearning for a town that I find more and more difficult to leave each time I have to.
The legend of El Pinini is like a mysterious spell that engulfs anyone who delves into it and it has had a certain enchantment to me, and the lure of this tradition almost goes beyond acceptable human comprehension.
The bond that can be found between all gypsy flamencos is astounding and the friendliness and compassion that I have experienced during my time here has made me realize that Utrera could well be my destiny.
One of the most beautiful things about the gypsy flamenco is the way the youngest performers are able to relay their flamenco in the same manneras their ancestors, because their song and dance have come from the same stock.
I sense that this phenomenal flamenco tradition is far too precious to simply fade away over time and in the same way that classical music is incorporated into many modern musical trends, this flamenco mode will survive in much the same way. There will always be a certain minority of people who will want to continue with the orthodox styles of singing and dancing because it is simply their way of living and it is this unadorned day to day routine that I believe will keep it alive.
Fernando Peña Soto – El Pinini was born one-hundred and fifty years ago and he has been dead for the last eighty, but his spirit is still very much alive in Utrera. It would appear that El Pinini created a legacy that few others can boast of and I am so grateful for that first day when I stepped of the train in Utrera in search of the legend of La Fernanda de Utrera, because what has followed has been some of the most enjoyable times I have ever had.
I feel extremely proud to be able to refer to many of these wonderful people as my friends and, even more important than the many nights of outstanding flamenco I have witnessed in this town, it will surely be the people of Utrera who will leave an everlasting impression on my life.