Easthampton guitarist Tony Silva releases new album

  • The album cover of “Reflections of Spanish Guitar” by Easthampton-based Spanish guitarist Tony Silva.  Photo courtesy of Tony Silva

  • Tony Silva  Photo courtesy of Tony Silva

Staff Writer 
Published: 1/2/2021 1:37:41 PM

When the pandemic hit western Massachusetts in March, Easthampton-based Spanish and Latin American influenced guitarist Tony Silva started doing free livestreamed concerts several times a week over Facebook. Since then, he’s performed more than 200 free one-hour concerts for thousands of people across the world.

“I went from gigging six days a week to not having any gigs,” he explained. “Right away, I saw that I was probably not going to be able to perform in front of a live audience for a very long time. So, I started streaming concerts on Facebook. My last day of work was on the 15th of March. By the 18th of March, I had already started streaming. I definitely read the tea leaves early and just started doing that right away.”

But the switch from live shows to online streaming wasn’t without its challenges for him.

“I realized that I needed to figure out, like all the rest of us musicians and performing artists, how to create a different kind of revenue stream from my work,” he added. “It was a huge learning curve. I had to learn how to stream live high-quality music. I had to learn how to accept tips online.”

For Silva, live performances account for most of his revenue as a full-time musician. While he was able to make ends meet to pay his bills through performing music on Facebook, he later switched to content creator service Pateron, where he performs four times a week to a digital audience of 28 patrons.

“What’s great about it for me is it’s given me a way to interface with the people who really like my music,” he added. “It’s held me accountable to them.”

Through the support of his patrons, Silva said he was able to complete his first album of instrumental Spanish guitar music at his home studio (where he also composes music for plays, documentary film scores and modern dance). He’d been working on completing the compositions during the past five years.

The 12-track album, “Reflections of Spanish Guitar,” was released on Dec. 15 and includes instrumental solo Spanish guitar compositions that are influenced by the styles and rhythms of Latin and South America, such as rumba flamenca — a genre of music that combines Spanish flamenco with the musical influences of the Cuban rumba.

The minimalist, Spanish guitar-only, album includes songs such as “Baile de Fuego (Dance of Fire)” — an energetic piece that is one of Silva’s favorites to perform.

“It’s just a ripping rumba flamenca tune,” he added. “In rumba, there are so many strumming patterns. If somebody says, ‘I know the way to play rumba flamenca. There’s no other way,’ they don’t know what they’re talking about. There are so many different strumming patterns and I’ve learned about eight of them. And this is one that really cooks and really moves along. When you listen to the track, I think you’ll agree.”

Silva, who has been playing guitar for the past 40 years, said he “cut his teeth” learning rumba flamenca, as well as traditional Mexican music, while serving as the weekly house musician for now-closed Mexican restaurant La Casita Azteca in Easthampton. He played three-hour live shows several times a week for nine years at the venue.

He was also a house guitarist at the former ConVino wine bar in Northampton for four and a half years. The wine bar closed in August 2019.

The album itself ranges in moods and styles, Silva said. There’s romantic ballads mixed with fiery rumba flamenca pieces with bustling rhythms that urge listeners to get up on their feet and dance.

“One of my great loves is the music of South America and of the Andes,” said Silva, whose father Pedro was originally from Chile. “Basically, I try to make the album mimic what it would be like if you came and heard me play. I would do a set list something like this. I want the listener to have an experience as if I was just playing for them.”

To listen or to purchase “Reflections of Spanish Guitar” visit Silva’s Bandcamp page at tonysilva.bandcamp.com.

Chris Goudreau can be reached at cgoudreau@gazettenet.com.
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