Travelers: Carlos Calvo

Carlos Calvo injects Alternative Folk/Pop with something it has been missing: virtuoso guitar playing. Calvo's original music features his warm, resonant voice, deep and thoughtful lyrics, accompanied by guitar playing that elegantly mixes genres from Blues to Flamenco and everything in between. Calvo grew up surrounded by world-famous flamenco and classical guitarists. He was formally trained at Carnegie Hall to play Bach and Barrios, but has been equally influenced by The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and Rolling Stones. Before embarking on his solo career, Carlos fronted successful bands that toured with Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, and Willie Porter. As a solo artist, he has toured with The Bacon Brothers and Colin Hay and numerous times in Europe as a headliner. Carlos is also a ConciergeQ contributor who guided readers, with the assistance of his wife, on a 900 kilometers (560 miles) trek of Spain in 2016.

Travel on with ConciergeQ's interview series TRAVELERS, featuring singer-songwriter Carlos Calvo.

ConciergeQ: What is your first memory of traveling? 

Carlos Calvo: My father is from a region in Northern Spain called Galicia. My first memory of travel was my family flying there when I was only three years old. I'm amazed that I have memories of being on the plane. Maybe because what I remember most was the excruciating ear ache from the flight! So, my very first feelings about travel involved pain and exhaustion, ha ha. Little did I know that it was trip that I would make again and again.

CQ: Share a favorite travel memory. 

CC: So many! In 2019, my wife and I took our two-year-old daughter to Spain. To Mallorca, where my wife had family, and where she and her family have been traveling since she was a young girl. And also to Galicia, where, as I stated, my father is from, and where my wife and I were married. Seeing my young daughter having so much fun on the same beaches that our families took as to when we were children was just incredible. And watching her eat the local food with nearly no restraint, absolutely devouring Pulpo (Galicia's famous octopus) and sardines, was just beautiful. Of course, there was always ice cream after!

CQ: Tell us a travel tale… 

CC: When traveling, it's sometimes harder to judge the quality of certain things by their covers, as they often look different than what we are a custom. We had the great pleasure of having one of my best friends travel to Spain with us. On this trip, the city of Zaragoza was one of our stops. We had read about this incredible restaurant. It wasn't a tourist destination, rather more of a beloved local spot. We had been on a long walk and were starving when we arrived to the place, Bar Cervo. We walked into a nearly empty, smallish, somewhat dingy place. Inside was one older gentleman reading the newspaper. It resembled more of an "old man bar," which I loved, and of which there are many in Spain. But at this moment, we were searching for a reputable restaurant. Upon further inspection, we noticed that there were a half dozen menus on the wall for foie gras alone! They served croquetas in eight different flavors, including squid ink.

We began ordering, and plate after plate of brilliantly prepared food arrived to our table. We must have eaten for two hours! Our table also consumed 12 glasses of Rioja wine (when in Rome... or Spain!). We had dessert with espresso and Spanish brandy. We were feeling that special, almost giddy euphoria of having eaten a truly spectacular meal. As our attention turned to asking for the check, I began to dread what the damage was going to be. The owner/operator handed me a hand-written tally of all that we had consumed, with a modest 73 euros at the bottom of the substantial list. Wow. This was a meal we would have been happy to pay 200 euros for. I'm just glad that the restaurant's initial, un-glossy impression didn't deter us from having experienced this epic meal.

CQ: Which film has inspired you to travel?

CC: The film Cinema Paradiso continues to fuel my quaint, Sicilian small town fantasies. The movie really captured not only the beautiful landscape of this Mediterranean island, but also what seemed to be the authentic pace and manner of life in this special place. So much so that I very much want to experience it for myself. I had tentative plans to finally make it there in 2020, but a global pandemic postponed those.  

CQ: What is your favorite travel song?

CC: Let's stick to the Spain theme and say, "Boots of Spanish Leather." Such a poignant story as a man travels far from his loved one and is asking her what he can bring back for her from his journey. Her response is simply, "Carry yourself back to me unspoiled from across that lonesome ocean." That's quite beautiful. That's Bob (Dylan). 

CQ: Where would you like to visit in the near future? 

CC: In the future, I would like to to delve deeper into Southwest France. We had spent some time in Bayonne and Biarritz, and were absolutely charmed by the local people and culture. Adding Bordeaux and The Dordogne Valley to such a trip would certainly fulfill that wish list.

CQ: Which TRAVELER should ConciergeQ interview next?

CC: Em Rossi.

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