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‘The Jimi Hendrix of bagpipes’

Musician Carlos Núñez, who hails from Galicia, a region of Spain with Celtic roots, will perform Tuesday at Crescent Elk Auditorium.
Musician Carlos Núñez, who hails from Galicia, a region of Spain with Celtic roots, will perform Tuesday at Crescent Elk Auditorium. Submitted
Carlos Núñez, the undisputed master of the Galician bagpipes (gaita), will be presented by the Del Norte Association for Cultural Awareness at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, the same day that his tenth CD (“Inter-Celtic”) is being released on Sony Music.

Núñez  is also known as “the Jimi Hendrix of bagpipe” (Billboard magazine) and an honorary member of The Chieftains (“the seventh Chieftain”). “If it’s possible to become a rock star playing the bagpipes, Núñez could be the man,” wrote the Los Angeles Times.

Galicia is a region in the northwest corner of Spain, on the Atlantic Ocean. It is “the magical part of Spain,” said Núñez, noting it has a music and culture all its own, influenced by the Celts who lived there 2,500 years ago.

Born and raised in the 1970s in the Galician port of Vigo — where author Ernest Hemingway first set foot in Spain — Núñez picked up the gaita at age eight.  He also studied the recorder and Baroque music at Madrid’s Royal Conservancy.  At the age of 12, he performed at Brittany’s Festival InterCeltic, where he first heard The Chieftains.   

He was invited to play with The Chieftains in 1994 at New York City’s Carnegie Hall and has toured and recorded with them several times since. In 1996 Núñez released his first solo album, and since then his recordings have sold more than one million copies. 

Other instruments Núñez plays include the flute, ocarina, penny whistle, tin whistle, Jew’s harp, Scottish highland pipes, Irish uilleann pipes, bombarde (a kind of Breton oboe) as well as the Breton bagpipes and pastoral pipes (an 18th century precursor to the uilleann pipes). 

His recordings have featured trademark musical collaborations with such notables as Linda Ronstadt, Los Lobos, Jackson Browne, The Chieftains, Solas, Altan, Sharon Shannon and Ry Cooder, among others.  He attributes this to his Galician heritage: “We are like chameleons. We always mix with the cultures of the places where we go and then we make a new melting pot, a new mix.” 

In his Crescent City performance, he will be joined onstage by Stephanie Cadman (violin, vocals and step dancing), Pancho Alvarez (viola) and his brother, Xuro Nunez (percussion).

The performance series of the nonprofit DNACA is made possible by its underwriters: Caldwell & Sund Family Trust, Lodolini Family, Bill & Kathy Maffett, Physicians of Sutter Coast Hospital Fund, Gene & Carol Schach, Smith River Rancheria, Sutter Coast Hospital and Wild Rivers Community Foundation.  DNACA is also a State/Local Partner, funded in part by the California Arts Council.

 


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