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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Ronald Radford-Flamenco Guitar, Arts Activist

George Smith Library,  Junction City, KS.
© Lydia Lowe  10/08/2011

What can be said about someone who is a world class musician, who has played all over the world
in front of audiences large and small, who feels his art deeply, so deeply that he donates free downloads
of his current CD and continues on with a tour playing for free after the money has dried up?

 On Friday evening, October 7, I just happened to be in the George Smith Library which really isn't a library at all but more of a venue.  There were tables and chairs all around in this beautiful room with leaded glass windows and highly polished, heavy mahogany beams.  Off in one corner was a bar area which was set up for a wine tasting (Sangria-a wine of Spain, among others) and included cheese, olives and a dip of some sort with tortilla chips.  The tastes of Spain.

The audience consisted of both young adults and older adults, men and women, all sitting around the tables
enjoying wine and snacks, talking together.  The tables and chairs provided a close interaction among the audience that just can't be duplicated when an audience sits in rows.

The sound check was first, which was as interesting as the actual show.

Then the show began.
Ron kept us all entertained with tales of his life, the history of Spain, the history of Flamenco music, Gypsy lore, lifestyle and moral lessons learned.  In between all of this, he played Flamenco music.  I felt like I was right there, in Spain, living among the Gypsies.  He encouraged audience participation so that the audience became part of the show.  He played for two hours and then it was time for an intermission.

   At the intermission there was more wine and snacks.  Time for the audience to talk to those that were seated at other tables.  Ron signed autographs and CD's and talked to the audience on an individual basis.

Back from the break and we were all transported back to Spain.  For the finale, Ron played the song that had started him off on his journey of a lifetime.  It was beautiful and he played with such passion.  Ron got so involved while he played that he was transported to somewhere other than the room we were all in and he took the audience along with him.  To witness someone be so completely transformed and lose themselves so totally in what they were doing was awe-inspiring.  There was this hush that fell across the entire room as everyone felt that same sense of transformation. 
It took all of us a while to come back to the venue, back to Kansas.

Actions speak louder than words.  Ron had made commitments to come to Kansas for concerts and teaching engagements which he continued to fulfill even though the money for these spots had dried up.
When I think of all of the children, teachers, school faculty, and concert goers that were able to see his performances on his tour through Kansas, plus all the others who are influenced by speaking to those attending Ron's performances, and then I think about all of these people who might have been denied this opportunity, it makes me very sad.  Who knows what lives were changed simply by the exposure to the music and Ron's tales of Gypsy life, the lifestyle of Spain, and his personal history, his can-do attitude.

I know that my life was changed by attending this concert and I do not see my life the same any more.
After this concert, all I want to do is go to Spain.  I think about it night and day.  During Ron's last song I
could literally see the crooked, winding streets; the stucco houses perched precariously on the hillsides; the wrought iron balconies; the spontaneous parties that break out for no reason in out of the way places.  I hope one day to travel to Spain and see all of this first hand.  And this is something that would have been lost to me had I not had the opportunity to attend Ron's concert.

This photo turned out to look more like a painting.  I thought this was a fitting close to this review.

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