I first saw Santos Puertas in an old Barcelona venue, where he was playing solo, and I was instantly captivated by his artistic endeavor.
His feeling, personality, dedication, passion, talent, and technique trapped me from the first chords.
Santos took us on a musical trip through North American roots.
His powerful performance transmitted an entire legacy, feeling, and culture to us.
And he managed to do it without just copying it–something that in and of itself would already be a real accomplishment; he began with a personal and evocative performance of old North American blues and folk songs, prefacing each song with warm, spoken introductions–stories or anecdotes about the real-life circumstances of the songwriter.
In the second half of the concert, Santos performed original tunes, some of which went beyond blues and folk and got into more open, contemporary sounds that you could catergorize as “Americana.”
After the gig, I had the chance to talk with Santos.
Santos Puertas was born in a small town called Sant Just Desvern, on the outskirts of Barcelona.
Singing was something natural for him ever since he was very small.
His grandfather and mother used to sing at home at every family get-together.
Guitar is the instrument Santos chose to accompany his voice.
Santos has forged himself a professional, musical path since his foundations.
He started loading and unloading trucks at age 16 to pay for his first electric guitar and amplifier.
He continued to work hard and make the sacrifices necessary to pursue the dream of someday becoming a musician capable of relaying and sharing the inner-world he had inside him.
In the year 2000, Santos crossed the “puddle” for the first time and went to Austin, TX; he made a bunch of musician friends and felt very at home in the blues scene.
That same year, together with his brother, Victor Puertas, he founded the blues and American music duo, The Suitcase Brothers.
With the Suitcase Brothers, also in 2000, he recorded his first record, Living with the Blues.
After playing with his brother for 18 years, four albums, two movie soundtracks, and hundreds of performances, the duo turned into a benchmark of the Spanish and European blues scene; these days they continue to be a benchmark.
In 2013, they participated in the International Blues Challenge (IBC), in Memphis, and came in second among nearly 100 contestants.
That is how they began to make their way throughout, and get fans from, the USA.
In 2014, they came out with their fourth album, called “A Long Way from Home,” recorded n Austin, Texas; guest musicians included, among others, their friend and blues harmonica legend, Jerry Portnoy.
This last recording earned a series of good reviews in Europe and the U.S., and was one of the five IBC finalist records in the category of Best Self-produced Records of 2015.
In 2012 he moved to Dallas, TX, where he lives, performs, and teaches when he is not on tour.
Currently, Santos is recording his first solo album, with a new and distinctive sound and philosophy.
Among the original tunes on the album are poems from Spanish and Catalonian literature that he turns into music and performs in singular and exquisite fashion.
We find ourselves before an artist who has made his way through, and lived among, the heart and the guts of North American roots music, and who, without breaking with this legacy, has managed to open up a path towards a more personal, intimate, varied, and contemporary musical endeavor.
Santos Puertas now finds himself in the best time of his life, in the key time of his life. In a situation of openess and common ground, of maturity and artistic plentifulness.
Translation: Michael Lindner