World-famous flamenco guitarist Juan Martin calls his favourite instrument the wooden wife.
“I’ve been with her for many years, and while I’ve had a few flirtations with other ones, she’s the only one for me,” said Spaniard Martin, who plays at the Grand Theatre, Clitheroe, with the Juan Martin Flamenco Trio tonight.
“I bought the wooden wife from a shop in Madrid, where they produce the Stradivarius of Flamenco guitars, and I don’t think you’d get a finer one in the world.
“It takes a long time to know an instrument, but this one has incredible clarity and a beautiful, ample, sweetness to the sound.
“A bit like Messi or Ronaldo I suppose, having a pair of comfortable boots they love to score great goals in.”
Martin, a giant of the flamenco tradition and a celebrated virtuoso of the flamenco guitar, has delighted audiences with his mesmeric guitar work and charming personality.
He splits his time between London and Malaga, where he learnt his art, and later played an unforgettable solo recital for Spanish artist Pablo Picasso’s 90th birthday celebrations.
“The first time I heard the flamenco guitar, it was like a drug,” he said.
“It had an intensity of sound and rhythm that just hit me, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
“It was a struggle at first: I went to Madrid, aged 18, and busked in a square, Plaza Vara del Ray.
“I earned one peseta an hour, playing under a forty degrees sun, but I was happy just to be doing something I loved.”
He travels less now, but one of Martin’s most memorable concerts was in Iran.
“I was invited to the city of Shiraz, expecting to play in front of a couple of hundred,” he said.
“Instead, 3,000 people were there to greet me. It was unbelievable.
“I felt like a Prime Minister or a Hollywood celebrity and the crowd chanted: ‘We love you Juan.’
“It was a very humbling experience.”
Tonight’s show includes a new dancer from Spain, Amparro Navarro, and singer Antonio Aparecida.
“Amparro is an incredible artist, with an astonishing speed of footwork and beautiful arm movements.
“She has a great elegance and uses the castanets too.”
Martin has produced twenty albums and his guitar tutorial books, sold all over the world, were dubbed the “Bible of the flamenco”.
“I love the immediacy of playing live, when you speak to people’s hearts,” he said.
“And whatever the music, from flamenco to rock, there are certain aspects in music that touch people very deeply.
“Sometimes you may not play your very best, but if your audience laughs or cries then you go away with a warm feeling.”
Juan Martin Flamenco Trio. Thursday, May 31st, Clitheroe Grand Theatre.
Tickets: 01200 421599 or www.thegrandvenue.co.uk