For guitar fans, Austin City Limits has been home to legions of blues and country-soaked guitar slingers, from Stevie Ray Vaughan to Eric Johnson to Jerry Reed. This week, however, we feature the dazzling skills of Rodrigo y Gabriela. Joined by Cuban orchestra C.U.B.A., the Mexican duo puts its patented blend of flamenco, jazz and rock through its paces for a thrilling 60 minutes.
Driven by C.U.B.A.’s infectious accompaniment, the pair rockets through “Santa Domingo,” “11:11” and “Tamacun,” with their impressive guitar work riding the lush Cuban motion of their collaborative album Area 52. Gabriela’s traditional flamenco technique, often augmented by a wah-wah pedal, keeps time as much as the drums and percussion, while Rodrigo’s fleet-fingered leads head to the stratosphere – he even pays tribute to his heavy metal roots by strapping on an electric guitar for “Hanuman” and cranks some distortion on “Diablo Rojo.” Longtime fans wanting to hear the duo’s talent unadorned will be thrilled by the middle segment, as C.U.B.A. takes a break to allow Rodrigo y Gabriela to showcase what they are known for: two guitars, chemistry and flying fingers. Each picker takes the spotlight solo as well, in which Rodrigo zooms up and down his fretboard with sizzling leads and Gabriela proves herself as much percussionist as guitarist.
You can get a sample of Rodrigo y Gabriela and C.U.B.A.’s danceable virtuosity by visiting the episode page, which should be enough to entice to check your local listings for the broadcast time on your PBS station. Don’t forget to visit our Facebook and Twitter pages or sign up for our newsletter for more ACL info. Next week: Tom Waits.