Seeing Tomatito last night at The Palace of Fine Arts was awesome. Here’s a wonderful nugget of wisdom from an interview he did 10 years back: http://www.flamenco-world.com/artists/tomatito/tomatito13072004-2.htm
Most young and not so young guitarists are crazy – they subconsciously want to compete with Paco de Lucía. They might say he’s the best, but they really want to better him. What I did is when I met Paco de Lucía at the age of fifteen, I surrendered as soon as I saw what he could do. That’s why I seek out my own way, that’s why my conscience is clear, that’s why people like me, that’s why I do what I do, that’s why I have my own personality, and know my limits. And young guys still say “Tomate, you play some mean flamenco.” At least they value your music, you’ve carved out a niche for yourself.
And competition shouldn’t enter into music. You have to compete with yourself and you have to bring your fantasies, your dreams to life, everyone has something. That’s why one guy’s paranoid, another one’s stuck at home… but look, we’re all only human! You aren’t Mozart, nor is anybody else, so quit trying to be so mystic – that’s all phony. I mean if there isn’t a flower in my dressing room I won’t play, and if my chair isn’t this color… Get real – go play your guitar, think about your guitar and quit goofing around! You need a shrink, man, you’re not gonna last in this game. You’re gonna get sick and in the end you won’t even want to work, and the record companies are gonna lose their patience with you – audiences too – and they’re gonna end up hating you. Nobody’s indispensable in this world.Camarón died and the world keeps turning. And he was the genius of my generation. We won’t see a greater genius in our lifetimes. He re-vamped flamenco, invented ‘flamenco joven’, the crowds, that identification with the youth, the intellectuals back then… He came to Madrid and packed fourteen thousand people into the Palacio de los Deportes stadium. Who else has done that? Nobody. Maybe back then Serrat could pull it off, but a flamenco artist with a guitar and a suit? He was the only one doing that stuff. His power to draw a crowd and the way he could connect with the masses, that charisma, there was no effort, it was just natural. Any big international musician that came, they all came after him: Chick Corea, Mick Jagger… he came and he was knocked sideways by Camarón. And what do the Stones know about flamenco? And you go all over the world and you see his records. He’s the reference point for flamenco today.