By Claire Spencer
Gibraltar has a fine musical heritage going back many years, with some of its sons and daughters going on to find fame and fortune. Philip Valverde, along with his elder brother, Hubert, who played as The Valverde Brothers, are most certainly part of that rich tapestry that has seen some fine musicians who have flown the flag for all of us that call this Rock our home. These days, Hubert lives in California, so Philip is instrumental in continuing their musical heritage solo.
The Royal Calpe live jam on Friday evening is but one venue on The Rock where you can get up and share your talents with an appreciative audience. The jam primarily features Philip Valverde, but he certainly is not one to hog the limelight, and all musicians are welcome to get up and perform.
These days, Philip is instrumental in continuing their musical heritage solo.
The pub itself is certainly a welcoming place; Philip has already set up in the corner by the door as I walk in. He tells me the music will be starting in about half an hour, and so I order a drink at the bar from the welcoming bar staff, who are very helpful and bring the drink to your seat for you.
At six o’clock sharp as the Cathedral clock is chiming over the way, Philip starts with Steely Dan’s ‘Ricky Don’t Lose That Number,’ as well as some fine renditions of a couple of Beatles classics; his fingers caressing the frets beautifully on George Harrison’s ‘Something’ and ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps.’ I also hear, amongst many other favourite tunes, The Eagles ‘Taking It Easy’ and the Shadows massive hit ‘Apache,’ dedicated to Tony Cruz, sitting close by. Tony is the bassist in The Rock Shadows, who are a Shadows tribute band based here in Gibraltar.
After the break, local guitarist Leo Sanguinetti is playing some heartfelt renditions of John Lennon’s masterpiece, ‘Working Class Hero,’ Cat Stevens ‘Father and Son,’ and Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here.’ Leo sometimes starts the ball rolling at The Lord Nelson’s Jam on a Thursday as well.
Another regular here is Gill Chesney Green, who, like Leo, also plays the Nelson’s jam. It’s always a pleasure to hear her singing, her voice is soothing and as pleasing as the summer sun and clear as polished glass; she gives some meaningful versions of evergreen popular tunes, accompanying herself on the guitar.
Philip is now joined by a guest vocalist called Bettina Manner for the fabulous Amy Winehouse song, ‘Valerie.’ Bettina’s vocals sit well alongside Philips guitar; The Royal Calpe crowd are well into this, they’re singing along too.
Sista Dee, another well-known Gibraltar musician is in the crowd as well tonight, and Philip now asks her to get up and sing. Sista Dee, also known as the Bob Marley Lady, has been gigging around the Rock as well as the UK and Europe for some time, always draws an appreciative crowd and doesn’t need to be asked twice, and smiling, joins Philip for Bob Marley’s ‘Three Little Birds.’
There’s no shortage of talent tonight, as, after more music from Philip, his cousins Nikolai and Kristian Celecia take the podium for George Ezra’s ‘Shotgun,’ with Kristian on guitar and Nikolai providing the vocals. After they finish their set, they enthuse with me about The Gibraltar Live Music Society, which has an excellent website and Facebook page. If you want to keep up to date with what’s happening with the music scene on the Rock, this page is a must, as it’s chock-a-block with info.
Chatting afterwards with Philip, I ask him whether he’s played with Albert Hammond, to which he says that he hasn’t, but he does say that Albert pops into his shop, The Studio, just around the corner in Bomb House Lane from time to time when he’s back home from gigging around the world and visiting his Mum. He goes on to tells me that the jam is a relatively newcomer to the flourishing music scene around town, having started earlier in the year after a very successful fundraising pub crawl to raise money for the GBC open day. Apparently, the management of The Royal Calpe were so impressed that they booked him to do a regular gig
So, if you’re into live music, or if you’d like to perform, make a date to call by The Royal Calpe of a Friday Evening, where the music goes on between about 6pm and 9pm. You won’t be disappointed.