Dusty Brough, left, John Martin III and Frank Giordano spread the spirit of flamenco as Cerro Negro.

art headline

By Shawn "Speedy" Lopes

True to the spirit of the restless musician, Cerro Negro has turned a concert stop into an opportunity to absorb new musical ideas. "The people here, Hawaiians especially, have a real interest in music," notes Frank Giordano, the group's well-mannered rhythm guitarist in a recent phone call from the Garden Isle of Kauai.

The Fresno, Calif.,-bred, flamenco-based trio, in its second tour of the islands, has already made fast friends with local musicians, sharing and trading musical concepts. "It seems everyone here plays an instrument and knows how to sing," says Giordano. "We don't usually perform blues and reggae and things like that, but we're even trying to learn the (chord) changes to some of the Hawaiian pieces. We jam with everybody wherever we go."

This comes as no surprise to Cerro Negro's worldwide fans, who admire the fiery combo's openness to new musical ideas as well as its unyielding dedication to the age-old Spanish musical tradition.

"We stretched ourselves instrumentally," says Giordano, of the group's latest endeavor, "Where in the World," in which percussionist John Martin III expands his repertoire to include vibes and marimba, lead guitarist Dusty Brough plays bass and Giordano tinkers with the piano. The album is a rousing melange of flamenco, jazz, salsa, blues and Middle Eastern melodies.

As with previous outings, Cerro Negro takes pride in its self-reliance. From the group's Web site to its recording studio, Cerro Negro has built a self-sustainable career without the financial backing of major recording labels. "Everything we do is homespun," remarks Giordano. "We did it with our own hands and that gives us artistic freedom. We're 100 percent independent and I think that's pretty special."

With each successive album come several new surprises, says Giordano who, although several years into his tenure with the group, is still amazed by his bandmates' virtuosity. "I'm stunned every time Dusty plays the guitar," he says of his 20-year-old colleague, who exhibits a firm grasp of flamenco's technical concepts as adeptly as the heralded icons of the genre. "John can make sound out of anything," he adds. "He comes (to Hawaii), sees new things and makes instruments out of them. He's taken things from out in the sea and off trees and made instruments from them."

Giordano's imaginative and soulful melodies, meanwhile, are the foundation from which Cerro Negro's heady concepts take flight.

"Flamenco rises and falls in popularity in the pop world, but I believe that there will always be people out there who can feel this music in their hearts," he affirms. "It never really leaves them. Once the bug bites you, it's really hard for it to let go."

Cerro Negro

Today: Noon to 1 p.m. at Tamarind Park, Bishop Square

Tomorrow: 7:30 to 8:45 p.m. at BYU-Hawaii McKay Auditorium (293-3545)

Friday: 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Kapiolani Park Bandstand and 8 to 9 p.m. at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center's fountain courtyard stage

Saturday: 8 to 11 a.m. at the Perry & Price Breakfast Show, Sheraton-Waikiki Hotel Hanohano Room (922-4222)

Monday: Noon to 1 p.m. at Kapiolani Community College's Ohia Cafeteria (524-8416)

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