November 16, 2001

El Gume makes a song personal, without losing it's roots

By Pablo De Sainz

"We're all born singing," says Armando Vidal, known among his fans as El Gume. "We just need to develop that talent."

El Gume has followed his own advice very well.

He is a musician and a singer, a guitar player who is popular throughout Tijuana. He plays every Thursday and Saturday at El Lugar del Nopal, a cultural bar and restaurant in downtown Tijuana.

"My music has had a lot acceptation in Tijuana," El Gume says. "My audience has no generation barriers. You can see a 50 year old next to an 18 or 20 year old."

His repertoire includes different Latin American rhythms, such as trova, Cancion Nueva, and bolero, but with a distinct touch.

"I try to enrich the song, to make new sounds," El Gume says. "I'm trying to make new proposals without losing the roots. I have my own style, very personal. I sing songs as I feel them."

He says not a lot of people are familiar with trova.

"Modern trova developed in Cuba," he says. "Trova has a lot of songs of protest, but also love songs. Maybe it isn't very well known in the United States because of the Cuban embargo. Many of the singers are Cuban."

Also, in the tradition of Spanish singer Joan Manuel Serrat and Argentinean trovador Alberto Cortez, El Gume turns poetry into songs.

"I add music to other people's poems," he says. "Some of them are Mexican poets, such as Jaime Sabines and Jose Emilio Pacheco. Some are poets from Baja California and Sonora."

Born in the city of Hermosillo, in the northern Mexican state of Sonora, it was there where El Gume began to develop his talent.

"My mother used to sing at home, in the kitchen, while she was cleaning," he says. "She was my first teacher."

As an undergraduate at the University of Sonora, El Gume joined two trova groups, where he learned to play the acoustic guitar.

Five years ago, El Gume came to Tijuana, where he started playing in different bars, until he arrived at El Lugar del Nopal.

"El Gume has an extraordinary gift, his voice," says Adelaida del Real, owner of El Lugar del Nopal. "The way he sings the songs, he gives them what Cubans call `el feeling.' He knows how to pick the songs he interprets."

And, according to del Real, El Gume and El Lugar del Nopal are the perfect combination.

"The response from the public at El Nopal has been very good," she says. "The place is perfect: warm, intimate. The public is willing to listen."

Juan Bosco Lopez is one of El Gume's most loyal fans.

"El Gume is a trovador," Bosco says. "His songs are very poetic. I'd heard him before, and now I'm bringing my friend to listen to trova."

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