Shanties from the sea

By Vera Penêda Source:Global Times Published: 2012-9-23 20:00:03


Five members of the band Capitán Tifus Photo: Courtesy of Capitán Tifus
Five members of the band Capitán Tifus Photo: Courtesy of Capitán Tifus

Argentine band Capitán Tifus is a gang of pirates raiding the seven seas with their unique mix of world music and joie de vivre, or joy of life. The crew takes rock, adds a pinch of ska and blends it with Latin and Balkan rhythms in performances that take audiences on a voyage of euphoria and meditation. Independent from labels and promoters, the band set sail from Buenos Aires on a journey that has taken them to Mexico, Europe, Russia and now China, where they drop anchor in Beijing on Wednesday night at Yugong Yishan.

"Welcome aboard, this is Captain Don Pirulero from Buenos Aires. Listen up!" commands a spokesperson for the Capitán Tifus crew in Spanish at the beginning of the song "Don Pirulero."

Dressed as a pirate along with her six other bandmates, frontwoman Vicky Cornejo flaunts her white boa feathers as violinist and bassist Francisco Mercado shares his revelation as a direct descendent of a famous Romanian Count.

Latin-inspired fun

"Latin Funfarria is the name we give to this mixture of rock with Latin American music and Balkan rhythms, reggae and ska," Cornejo, 30, told Metro Beijing from Russia ahead of the band's arrival in China. "It is also known as musica mestiza, or 'mixed music,' which is a style initiated by Manu Chao," explained Cornejo, referring to other groups that sail along the similar music straits such as French band Mano Negra and Italian singer Jovanotti.

Capitán Tifus' music is feverish, spreading like a dancing virus. Audiences can jump to songs such as "Circo" ("Circus"), swing to "Vamos a la Playa!" ("Let's go to the beach!"), or both shake and sway to the intoxicating rhythms of "Borracho" ("Drunk"). "We believe our music is an image of life in Buenos Aires combined with world music. It is full of energy and celebrates life," said Cornejo.

Making the digital connection

Currently on a worldwide 80-concert tour, Capitán Tifus included a stopover in Beijing after a concert in neighboring Japan. As an independent band that manages their own contacts and agenda, Capitán Tifus strongly relies on online social networking to promote their music and connect with fans.

"China is a bit difficult in regards to social networking, because our website isn't available in every city. We have to use Chinese social networking websites such as and to reach a wider number of people," Cornejo added.

The band believes Asia is an untapped market for their energetic brand of music. "There's a lot of rock and ska in these countries, but it is more influenced by US punk rock and not so much Latin or Balkan rhythms," noted Cornejo. Given the urge for a fusion of East and West and the affection for tango in Asia, Capitán Tifus believes that Latin music will only continue to grow in popularity in China.

A group of friends who met while studying music, all members from Capitán Tifus started playing together in their teens more than a decade ago. They arrive in China with five of their seven members aged between 22 and 30. In addition to Cornejo and Mercado, the group's lineup for Beijing comprises Jerónimo Cassagne (guitar) and the two Brazilian members of the band, Joseph Theune (drums) and Mariana Borssatto (woodwind). "We're very excited. We've wanted to get to China ever since the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games," Cornejo explained. "We believe it'll be a very interesting cultural exchange."

When: 9 pm, Wednesday, September 26

Where: Yugong Yishan, 3-2 Zhangzizhong Lu, Dongcheng district

Tickets: 50 yuan

Contact: 8402-8477

Posted in: ARTS, Metro Beijing

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