Back in August 1st I woke up like any other day. Had my morning ritual and after having breakfast I sat down to start working. A few minutes later I received an email from Noah’s dad, Marc Benardout, asking me to call him urgently and before I could I received a call from him. As soon as I heard his voice I knew something was wrong, then I heard him say that Noah was killed by a drunk driver. My first reaction was a desperate.. no, no, no… My heart broke in disbelief, outraged and just in shock.

It took a few days of processing and integrating this alternate reality I felt in. Also in respect for his family I didn’t feel like sharing anything in public yet.

What I want to share with you about Noah is not his death but the life I was fortunate to have with him. When he passed I wrote him the following letter. I want to share this with all of you so you get to learn about him and the importance and impact he had in my life.

Thanks to him I became the musician I am now.  A 17 year old friendship that started when he was 7.

Thank you for reading.

Noah,

I still very vividly recall the day we met. I was sitting at my computer playing a video game when the phone ringed. I think at the time I still had a phone line so I had to get up to the phone to answer. It was 2002 if I remember right. I got the phone and it was your dad, Marc, he was wondering if I was still coming to your house because we scheduled a guitar lesson, I completely forgot, Shit!!

I told Marc – I’ll be there soon!!

I drove to your home and your parents answered the door. I was so nervous and ashamed for forgetting about the lesson but Marc and Marie always have a smile on their face and immediately made me feel at peace and welcomed.

They led me to a room where you were sitting, a 7 year old kid with a guitar on the lap. I sat next to you, in front of the tv, and I noticed there was a playstation. I made some conversation about games, if I remember right we talked about FIFA, I used to love playing that game.

The next question was the moment where everything changed for me. The answer to that question launched us into a relationship of self discovery through music. 

I asked you – So… why do you want learn guitar? To which you replied- because I want to write my own songs!!

I was thrilled with the challenge and the opportunity to teach like this. You were the first beginner student who answers that. Most of them are pushed by their parents to do it because they got a guitar for Christmas, or some want to learn their favorite songs, others because they played guitar hero and felt they could actually play the guitar, but it’s so rare that someone wants to learn to write songs at 7 years of age.

And so our journey began , we started with single string melodies and simple rhythms and all of the sudden you would just start writing lyrics to those “exercises”, clever phrases and structures, a story, like your already have lived tons of years of experiences, like you’ve already loved and had your heart broken a couple of times.

It was crazy. So I started to reflect myself in you. The simplicity and honesty of those songs showed me the way for me to do the same.

At this point of my life I had already spent 10 years playing the guitar. I spent those years perfecting my technique, learning songs and having a couple of bands.

When I started playing I was a mix of the other type of students. I had to do an activity outside of school and playing songs sounded fun. But I never wrote a song during those years. I felt I couldn’t, so a year before we met I was depressed, I felt lost, I had no idea what was next for me after finishing MI (Musicians Institute)… No songs, no band.

So I started teaching.

You learn so much when you teach. And what I learned with you transformed my life, gave me hope, made me dream again, I saw it all possible. From that moment on I felt our lives were in a parallel experience.

I helped you write your songs from day 1, showed you chords, rhythms, all the tools you need to use the guitar. I saw you cry of pain on your fingers and pushed you to keep going. Always so sensitive and unafraid of showing your feelings.

It was such a beautiful experience to write those songs. I wonder if you remember I gave you your first songbook/journal for your bday. You filled it up quick.

We would see each other once a week but at some point we were meeting twice a week. I remember that season of double meetings because I designated the money I was making from teaching you as my fund to go study in Spain. I started having an interest for flamenco music and it would be the first time I would pay for my own education.

 

 

I left 3 or 4 months and it was also a life changing experience. I came back from Spain with so much inspiration to make my first album. I invited you to play the release of the album as an opener. I think by then you were 10. Already comfortable on stage. Sharing your songs.

Since I was recording my own music I also showed you how to record your own songs, a bit of mixing and editing. And you kept growing, right in front of my eyes. Your voice changed, you got taller and taller, we would have arguments during your teens, it was like relationship between brothers.

And you kept writing songs, like your life depended on it. Endless amount of music always pouring out of you. To tell you the truth I was a bit jealous, it hasn’t been so easy for me. But then again I don’t write lyrics. (I do like writing words though).

I was part of the making your first album, we even had Kenny Arnoff playing drums with us!!!

 

It was such an honor to be with you as your music grew. Then in 2012 I left L.A. to continue my path in life and our lives went in different ways.

You always made sure to call me or txt on my bdays, Christmas, New Years. We would share new music via chat and catch up on what we were doing. I have always been so proud of your endeavors, persistence and constant evolution.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last time I saw you was February of this year, I had a little trip to LA to take Olivia to Disneyland and I took a day to meet with you. I missed you so it was a must do. We talked about music, the industry, songs, women, the world, our families, our dreams. Now you were a man, a 23 year old man. I think even taller than me. I had a dream to have a collaboration in the near future. I have been so excited to share each others success. You were so excited about your new project, getting ready to launch your new chapter. 

And 5 days ago all those hopes and dreams were taken away by a drunk driver. In a matter of seconds it was all taken away. I still can’t believe it, my heart broke and I feel like my world is not the same. I lost my little brother, mentor, friend.

I have been so out of it since I got the call from your Dad. My life feels different. And I keep remembering things that I haven’t thought about in some time. All that you gave me has resurfaced and it’s giving me the inspiration and fuel. I feel the duty to carry on what you and I started that day when we met. You will forever be a part of me and my music. I will honor our relationship and what it created until I join you.

I know you are great wherever you are now, I know you are happy. Yes it’s hard to understand why things like this happen. It hurts, it’s inevitable.

You leave a big mark on everyone of us who were lucky to cross your path. And I thank you for sharing those years with me.

Now go fly in that distant planet in the universe. Im sure your soul will keep singing and creating. Until we meet again.

Godspeed Noah.

 

 

Hello Friends,

We are so excited to share with you that we are performing at Swallow Hill on March 30th 8pm (doors at 7pm). The show will take place at the Tuft Theater, the 100 seat theater in Swallow Hill on 71 East Yale Ave Denver, CO, 80210

It’s gonna be a full band show, with Jordi Marin on the Drums, Roger Harmon on Bass, special guest Sarah Mount on Sax and we are hoping to have another guest to perform with us.

We hope you can join us for this night, Jordi and I play out a lot as duo and we are always excited when we get to have more people on stage with us. It’s lots of fun and we get to do something different.

Tickets are on sale at: Tickets They are $14 pre sale and $16 the day of the show.

Please share with your friends and family. It’s an all ages event.
Hope to see you there

Javi

Sometimes life kicks you in the face to wake up, we didn’t know we were sleeping. Going through life in survival mode, making money, paying rent, eating out, watching tv, partying and the cycle starts all over again every single day. That was me for many years, I wasn’t living my truth or shining my light in a unique way. 

So I stopped, I needed a radical change. It was just the beginning of a long journey ahead. I went through divorce, long distance parenting and an empty canvas in front of me, my life. It’s a scary place to be. To know you actually have control of your life. At the time I didn’t have the maturity or strength to handle it and made so many mistakes, it’s like riding a wild horse. 

One day after having breakfast I sat in front of the computer and booked a flight from New York to Germany. My thought process is that I needed to prove myself I could do what I do wherever I go and that my music was good for people to like it.

I didn’t have any gigs booked or a plan. I gave up on everything at home in LA.  I called the venues I played at and told them it was gonna be my last month, I also told my students that I couldn’t teach them anymore cause I didn’t know when or if I was coming back. Got rid of a bunch of stuff and the rest I put it in storage. And so it began. A Gypsy Journey!! A trilogy of EP’s that reflects the past 6/7 years of my life. 

My way of liberating from my own limitations and fears. My way to have the courage to share with the world who I am. 

Each song carries memories, stories and all the emotions that I went through. I will be sharing with you the story behind each of the songs, hopefully it will bring a new perspective when you hear them and you can step into my world. Stay tuned!!

Javi

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Exactly 6 years ago I was in Mexico City. I had just spent 3 months traveling and my life was anything but stable. I had just gone through divorce, all my stuff was in storage and I had no place to call home.

I decided to have faith that my music would take me to the right place.

Needless to say I needed my family. So I went to Mexico, to regroup, to feel safe.

Obviously I had to work and perform so I booked a couple of shows, but I needed a band. I told my sister about my plans, I was looking for a drummer, she suggested a Catalan friend that lived with her boyfriend. I was open to it so I said yes, she talked to him and he was down to try too.

It was Halloween of 2012, there was a big celebration for a bday party (if I remember correctly). Lots of friends, my sister and a very very dark Javi, my life was just in a low. I knew I was gonna meet Jordi that night, haven’t seen or talked to him before, I didn’t even know how he looked!!

I was in the far corner of a long table, I looked up at the door and I saw this guy walking in with a girl on each side. Somehow I knew it was him, so I stood up, took off the mask I was wearing and asked – Are you Jordi? – He said, Javi??? and we hugged. Like we were old friends meeting again.

That night I knew he was my brother, he had my back since that day.

Later that week we got together to play for the first time. Jordi had studied all my music (which is not easy). He had pages and pages of drum parts. And so it all began. From then on we have been inseparable. We played a bunch in Mexico City and other states in Mexico with different formations and collaborations. But the 2 of us were the core of the band.

 

 

 

 

 

At some point we had to make some changes cause life as a musician in Mexico City is not very profitable. So we reduced to play as duo. Our first gig like that was opening for Diego el Cigala (if you don’t know who he is Google him he is the biggest voice in flamenco in the world). We were great!!! The audience loved us.

 

 

 

 

 

Then we spent 4 months in Cabo where we used as practice grounds for this new formation. We played so much and also party so much… Wild times. That’s when the Gypsy Journey began, a trilogy of EP’s that capture our experiences as traveling musicians. The minimalist Part I: Trip (2015) was created. The idea was to capture the way we play live as a duo, 4 songs, 2 instruments.

We then traveled to LA where we made a living busking and playing shows in the surrounding cities. Then finally we moved to Denver, a decision made so I could be with my daughter. We released the A Gypsy Journey Pt. II: El Refugio in the summer of 2017 with the help of local musicians and also friends in Mexico. This albums reflects collaborations to color our music.

Jordi has been my band partner, brother and best friend for the past 6 years and I’m so grateful to have him in my life. Thanks to him my music has evolved and keeps growing. Also having his unconditional support in all the ups and downs of life has been invaluable. Our relationship keeps transforming and we are there for each other during all of our transitions.

Currently we are working in our biggest project yet, finishing the Gypsy Journey Trilogy. Part III is the biggest challenge we are taking on ourselves. We are working hard to achieve our goals and to share who we are to all of you.

Here is to more years of friendship.

Thanks for reading

Javi

Back in 2004, I was studying flamenco guitar in Sevilla, Spain. I was part of a very intensive flamenco program.

I got tired of so much traditional flamenco and the purist environment. My background is in rock and roll, I grew up listening to classic rock (Clapton, Zeppelin, Hendrix, Floyd, Queen, etc…). You could say it is in my blood at this point.

So, as I was learning this new form of expression I saw the possibilities of what I could do with the technique. I decided to arrange Bohemian Rhapsody, chords, melody, harmonies, all of it just with the guitar. Took me over a year of arranging, practicing and making many mistakes live (lots of pressure when everyone knows the song).

Now over a decade later this piece has become part of my story. I’ve made it my own and it has been with me at every show connecting me to audiences all around the world. It’s amazing when a whole crowd sings along, so powerful.

With all the respect to Queen and with gratitude to the gifts they left to us in their music we wanted to pay tribute to them and their legacy.

We recorded this music video at The Spot Studios in Lakewood, Colorado. With Jordi Marin on Drums and Roger Harmon on Bass. Video was shot by Shaun Asakura.

I hope you enjoy it!!

Javi

 

 

A year ago, I had the last drop of alcohol, a glass of bourbon on a southwest flight coming back to Denver from Mexico. I said goodbye to my old friend – Alcohol.  A friend that helped me hide under its blanket.

Like many musicians I fell right into the image that a rockstar has:  you party, you play, you party, play and then party some more.

You don’t even need to have all the fame and fortune to do all these, it’s just there, waiting, the musician’s dimension.

Growing up I had many idols, bands I looked up to. Metallica, Zeppelin, Pantera, Hendrix… You name it. Sounded like so much fun to live that life, careless, wild and glamorous.

Little did I know the price you pay to sustain that lifestyle. Broken hearts, broken families, wasted days, depression, disconnection from truth, the list goes on and on… your darkest trades, your shadows come out when you let alcohol be your guide.

I have many stories of random acts of drunkenness and yes, some are hilarious, Epic nights, laughter. Some are sad, all of it.

So many lessons were learned and now as I look back I know I wasn’t honoring who I really am. I was honoring a false image, a manufactured character in the artist world, at least in my perspective. I was fulfilling what we all think it is to be an artist.

The suffering-dark-addict.

Now, a year after cleaning up.  I’m discovering who I really am… or at least building a new me.

The first 2 months I faced so much pain. I faced what my actions have created. The cause and effect.

I realized I was aimlessly shooting my life to wherever my arrow would land (if that makes any sense).  Sounds dramatic and it was. I consider myself an alcoholic and that was a harsh truth to really accept. I faced so much pain I caused others and worse, that I caused myself.

I didn’t know how to have fun or how to relate to others to have fun. I’m still discovering what is it that I like to do (besides the obvious – Music).

Since then I have been practicing new habits, healthier habits that are enriching my life, my relationships and even better, enriching my music. I feel more connected to myself and others, my intuition is stronger than ever, I can manage my emotions a bit better and on top of all that,  I’m becoming a better Dad!!  Each day I have to remind myself why I’m doing this. To be the example of action and embodiment of good acts for Olivia.

Every day I have to pray for strength and focus to transform old patterns and the courage to create good new patterns. To not fear what’s ahead in my life.

We live in a world that is constantly wanting to escape, avoiding ones emotions, thoughts or whatever it is. We just avoid it.

The majority is living a life that is not happy with, so we drink, so we use drugs… it’s a lot “easier to feel happier” that way. Yet is not the truth and even worse it drifts us even farther from the real place where we can find all the beauty, peace and love we crave.

I’m glad I woke up. Not too late.

Thank you for reading

Javi

Dear friends and fans,

As you may know, last year we released the EP A Gypsy Journey Pt II: El Refugio. This EP took us over two years to complete as we were developing the songs and seeking the perfect collaborating musicians.

The theme of taking refuge, as the album title suggests, was chosen in gratitude for all the people and places that have offered us sweet refuge during the time in which these songs were composed. Jordi and I were touring a lot as these tunes organically began taking shape, and whether obvious or subtle, each piece bears a certain sense of sanctuary or longing for home. This hunger for place was filled as our gypsy travels wound down, and we realized that in addition to having fresh music to share with all of you, we had also inadvertently found ourselves a new home base in beautiful Denver, CO.

The EP’s opening track, Recuerdo a Paco, is a tribute to master flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia, whom I had the privilege and honor to meet in the fall of 2013 after one of his shows in Mexico City. I was able to thank him personally for the tremendous impact his music has had on my life, and while I didn’t walk away with an autograph, the conversation we shared travels with me always and runs far deeper than any scrawled signature on a page. I also had the privilege of sharing my music with him; it was at once an extremely humbling and exhilarating experience.

Five months or so after that meeting, el gran maestro de guitarra flamenco died of a heart attack while playing with his son on a Mexican beach. The night I read about his passing was the eve of a major transition for El Javi, as we began a season of performances in Baja California, Mexico. The heartbreaking news sparked in me a need to honor Paco in the best way I could- through music. Recuerdo a Paco was composed as a meditation on my evolutionary journey with flamenco, beginning from the traditional roots of my studies and flowering into flamenco-rock fusion. The accompanying video portrays that personal odyssey as well in sound and image and was directed, filmed and edited by Guillermo Roqués of Valencia, Spain (http://guillermoroques.com/).

We are so proud of the final product, and we hope you love it too! We’d also humbly ask you to please take a few moments to share this video with friends who might enjoy it- via email, your preferred social media platform, or even whip out your phone at the bar or around the dinner table for a quick flamenco appetizer. Olé! Thank you so much, dear friends and fans; your continued support means the world to us!

Here is the link for sharing: https://youtu.be/rVwugmTcHFQ

Javi

Dear Friends,

Wanted to share with you this amazing opportunity that came unexpected. Coors Light has a promotional campaign where they promote artists from different states to share their story and their work. I was picked to represent Denver and it has been a great experience.

I got to share a little bit of my story and promote the song Summerland.

Thanks to this exposure we have reached new audiences and has been really touching to read the comments about the video.

So… Here it is, in case you haven’t seen it.

Last night we had such an amazing time at Ophelia’s. We want to thank everyone who came out and made it such an special night.  Always the staff at Ophelia’s was great, Will Umphrey doing the sound did such an amazing job!! Thank you Will.

We hope you all enjoyed the show and took a copy of the CD if not now is available in iTunes and all the digital platforms.  Click here to download

I can’t Thank you all enough for the amazing time. See you soon

Javi

Hi Friends!!

Some of you might know that for the past few months we have been working on a new EP. The 2nd part of the Gypsy Journey trilogy. This EP is a reflection of the evolution of my music.

It has been an amazing experience to record these 5 songs. This time instead of the minimalist approach we wanted to do the opposite. I did a bunch of guitars, nylon, steel, electric and bass. Jordi recorded a full drum kit and tons of percussions. We also had collaborations on each song to bring different elements and sounds.

The musicians include:

Lucas Molfino – Keyboards
Ricardo Hernandez – Bass
Alice Hansen – Trumpet
Zach del Hierro – Percussions
Kerry Paige – Sax
Roger Harmon – Upright Bass
Josh Lee – Violin
Ana Pruneda – Palmas

We also included some flamenco zapateado (footwork) from our dear friend Natalia Perez del Villar.

The mixing was done by my friend Brian Jester http://jcrstudio.com/

The artwork was done by our friend from Mexico city, Rodrigo Albert. When the songs were on the demo stages we sent him the tracks and told him to draw whatever he felt from the music and here it is:
artwork

We released the first single “El Refugio” a couple of months ago and now it’s time to present you the new single “Summerland”. This song has been in the making for almost 2 years. It is a dedication to our time and friends in Summerland, BC, Canada. We had an amazing experience thanks to the invitation of our friends from Advanced Audio (Dave & Jill Thomas). We used their microphones throughout the recording process. This one is for you guys!!!

SUMMERLAND

The CD Release is scheduled on June 2nd. We will have a show that night at Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox.  With Cikatriz (local Denver band) doing and acoustic set to start the night. Show starts at 9pm. For tickets and Reservations: https://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/1470746. CD’s will be available that night and digital copies will be available too. iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, etc…

opheliasposter