Buskers who can take you a world away

How far would a Galway person have to go to listen to live Mediterranean folk music? Would you have to book a flight to Spain? or Greece? Luckily you do not have to go anywhere that far. In fact you only need to stroll through Shop Street where you will be greeted with the electric tones of Sarumba - a three piece group well versed in Mediterranean music. This energetic trio of musicians spend their busking time churning out a set-list of high octane tunes which are emblematic of the Mediterranean civilisation and it seems the Galway locals are embracing this authentic and fresh sound. On a profitable day this three pronged musical attack can earn up to €300 in busking fare so what is it that makes their music so aluring? Originally from Pompeii, Italy, lead Spanish guitarist Vincenzo insists that Irish people are intrigued by the novlelty of their melodies. “Our music is so different compared to the music that you would hear in Ireland. But it would be the same if an Irish traditional band came to Italy people would love their music because it so unlike what they normally hear. There are plenty of music groups in Spain who do what we do, but here is like wow that is so different.” Vincenzo arrived in Galway almost 14 years ago. His initial intention was to holiday briefly here but he was captivated by the city’s homely atmosphere which resulted in the transformation of his travel plans into permanent residency. His fellow band members Celia and Delia - both of Spanish origin - were struck by the same when they landed in Galway a little over a year ago. “It’s so friendly here. We love busking especially during the summer when all the festivals are on and the weather is nice. It’s hard to play in the winter time because your fingers get cold and sore so we can only busk sometimes then,” says Delia, who provides the energetic rhythm to the Sarumba sound with her cajón, (slap drum ). Sarumba’s music is a fusion of traditional Spanish influence and latin folk with a drizzle of flamenco flair delivered with a pacey tempo. They amplify their music to a powerful decibel level and sometimes that is not well received by retailers near their busking domain. “We love to party and our music is about having a good time but sometimes a person at work might be thinking ‘Oh I love this music but I have to work, I can’t party,’ so sometimes they tell us to keep the noise level down” Vincenzo remarks. Fellow guitarist Celia adds, “but people do enjoy our music and we love when people stop to admire our music.”The few complaints they receive about their volume levels contrasts with the early days of Vincenzo’s busking career before Shop Street was pedestrianised and the passing traffic was stifling his music. “When I first came to Galway it was not as multi-cultural as it is now and it was sometimes hard to play because there would be cars driving through Shop Street so people could not really hear the music.”It cannot be disputed that the arrival of the Sarumba band was a blessing for Galway culture, but for Celia and Delia it allowed them to revel in their talents. “It was only a hobbie to play back at home.When I met Vincenzo we started jamming and then I started to really practice when we were making our CD,” Celia recalls.The Sarumba musicians compose their own work. Vincenzo, like many acclaimed artists is self taught. He can read music. But in a country like Ireland where the people are still adjusting to the Mediterranean sound, playing the familiar favourites is a neccessity. Vincenzo however, claims that they are happy to do so. “It’s so unusual because people love to buy our CDs with our original songs on them but when we play a gig they want to hear covers but we are happy to do it and play songs like ‘Volare’. We want to gig more often so we will play whatever the audience enjoys.”Vincenzo recalls his chance meeting with Delia and Celia as a “beautiful moment” and the music they create in the Sarumba uniform always echoes that beauty.



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