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Alex de Pue Performing September 25 & 26 at La Palapa de Jose in Rosarito

Alex DePue will be performing at La La Palapa de José once

again this weekend Fri. and Sat., Sept. 25-26, beginning at 8 PM.

Take La Mision/ Plaza Del Mar Exit at KM 63 on the toll road.

Turn Right and go about 200 yards to K58 Campo Alisitos.

You will see the signs, so you know you are at the right place.

Turn left and go into the campground.

By Mikel Miller
Baja California, Mexico -- A hidden treasure in Baja is discovering good musicians hanging out between
concert tours and recording sessions. People here find out about their laid-back music sessions by word of mouth or email alerts.

Some friends in Baja invited me to hear fiddler Alex DePue, who was getting ready for the annual Grand Master Fiddler Championship in Nashville October 2-3. He was playing for tips at La Palapa de Jose, a little place right on the Pacific Ocean, about 36 miles south of the border, on the city limits between Rosarito Beach and Ensenada.

The thatched-roof open-air palapa had a small bar in the left rear corner, and tables and chairs for about 60 people in the main part. In the right rear corner, a stage with two spotlights and a one-microphone sound system sat waiting between sets. An unpretentious guy, in his late 30s, walked over and welcomed us.

“Thanks for coming,” he said. “I’m Alex.” He smiled broadly and stuck out his hand with a strong handshake. He stepped onto the one-step-high small stage, settled onto a hard swivel chair, and shouted hello to three other new arrivals. A tiny table sat in front of the stage, holding a metal pot with a sign saying “Tips” surrounded by his business cards and maybe a dozen copies of two CDs. Alex said they would make great Christmas stocking stuffers, and joked that they were only “$20 apiece, or two for $50.”

He took a box of cigarettes from his shirt pocket and tossed it into his open fiddle case on the floor. He pulled the electric fiddle close to his chest, hugged it with his neck, and drew the bow across the strings.

The fiddle sprang to life, singing and dancing a Cajun tune, with Alex keeping time by stomping his right foot on the plywood stage. The fiddle moaned long and low, like a locomotive whistle, on the opening notes of “Orange Blossom Special,” a tune that many consider the American national anthem for fiddle players. He reached out with his bow and tapped it twice on the metal pot to make a sound like a locomotive bell. Then the fiddle picked up speed and exploded into the breakneck tempo of the 1938 bluegrass classic.

Another night, he started a game of “Name That Tune,” demonstrating his versatility on half a dozen pieces from Lionel Ritchie, The Eagles, and others. People at the tables shouted out names of songs they recognized, and softly sang the words they knew.

He paused to encourage requests. “Just write what you want to hear on a $10 bill and give it to me,” he joked. The fiddle launched into “Smoke On The Water,” with everybody clapping time. Somebody asked for “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” a country classic. “That’s a $50-dollar request,” he teased, but he played it anyway, and sang the lyrics, too, in a husky baritone. The place went crazy.
            His cheek-length hair fell across his face, whipping from side to side as he swayed, and he stomped that right foot on the stage, sweat soaking through his shirt. He finished the evening with a wave of his fiddle bow, and the crowd of 28 cheered enthusiastically. Some guests dropped money into the tip bucket and began drifting out, but others stayed to visit for a minute or two. My front row seat cost just $2.50 for a cup of Mexican café one night and $3 for a cold beer the second night, plus tips for the metal pot.

His two Baja sessions gave me new appreciation for violin virtuosity, and I could hear why he is one of the best in the world. His fantastic fiddling ranged from bluegrass to classical, rock to Bach, and included a classical music piece written for four violins. Two friends from Los Angeles saw him another night and came away impressed, wanting to know more about him.

Alex began studying classical violin when he was 5, won his first major competition when he was just 10 years old, performed at Carnegie Hall at age 16, and has performed in fiddle championships across the USA. In 2007, he won the California State Fiddle Championship. He won fourth place in the Grand Master Fiddle Championship in 2005, and won eighth place in 2008.

A couple of years go, Alex toured North Amfor erica, South America, and Europe with legendary rock guitarist Steve Vai. Usually, he tours with Miguel de Hoyos, a great Mexican classical guitarist. Don’t miss the 10 minute video from a joint performance with Miguel in Monterrey, Mexico, on the Internet at http://www.myspace.com/alexdepue

During the past two years, he has been enjoying the laid-back Baja lifestyle between events in the USA. He performs in southern Baja during the winter season, but hangs out on the cooler northern Baja Pacific coast in the summer months.

Posted: Friday, September 25, 2009 10:15 AM by Herb Kinsey


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