Spanish bagpiper Carlos Nez returns to Gainesville on Friday


Spanish pipes player Carlos Nez performs Friday at the University Auditorium.

Courtesy of Carlos Nez
Published: Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:07 p.m.

In their 2005 performance at the Phillips Center, The Chieftains introduced a young piper who dazzled the audience with the sweet sound of a different sort of bagpipes.

Facts

Carlos Nez

What: Spanish bagpiper performs Celtic music from the northwest of Spain
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Where: University Auditorium, 333 Newell Drive
Tickets: $20-$35
Info: 392-2787, Ticketmaster.com

The Chieftains called the musician, Carlos Nez, their “seventh member” after he performed on the group's 1996 album, “Santiago,” a tribute to the region of Galicia in the northwest portion of Spain.

Galicia, whose capital is Santiago de Compostela, is often described as Spain's “Celtic” region, an area so steeped in the music played by The Chieftains that group leader Paddy Maloney called it “the world's most undiscovered Celtic country” in the album's liner notes.


Carlos Nez

What: Spanish bagpiper performs Celtic music from the northwest of Spain

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Where: University Auditorium, 333 Newell Drive

Tickets: $20-$35

Info: 392-2787, Ticketmaster.com


And Nez — who returns to Gainesville on Friday for a performance with his own band at University Auditorium — is considered Galicia's best-known Celtic musician, a virtuoso known around the world for his prowess on the gaita, or Galician pipes, the region's traditional bagpipe.

In a phone call from Miami, where he began a tour of North America on Wednesday, Nez said The Chieftains embraced the northwest region of Spain for its Celtic music and for its heritage in influencing the music of Ireland and other parts of the Celtic world centuries ago via boats.

“They loved the fact that the pipes from Ireland and from Scotland come from Galicia, from the northwest of Spain,” Nez says.

“The Galician pipes have seen 1,000 years of history. And the Scottish masters of piping say that Scotland and Ireland received the pipes from Galicia centuries ago. In fact, there is this Irish legend ... that says the Irish come from Galicia, from the northwest of Spain.”

Nez first performed with The Chieftains in a 1994 concert at Carnegie Hall that celebrated Who singer Roger Daltrey's 50th birthday. And Nez appears on three other Chieftains albums in addition to “Santiago.”

In the United States, rock performers were so captivated by Nez's sound that they dubbed him “the Jimi Hendrix of the pipes,” he says.

“One of the things I learned is that the Galician pipes, the gaita, are the electric guitar of the Middle Ages. It's a powerful instrument that has this kind of sound that's very electric. So this is why maybe many people in America say 'Carlos is like the Jimi Hendrix of the pipes.'”

In performances and on his own 10 albums, Nez has widely popularized the sound of the Galician pipes, which have a smoother, lighter tone than the Scottish bagpipes and also sound distinctively different from the uilleann pipes, the national bagpipe of Ireland.

“The Scottish pipes are very powerful; they are the fire,” says Nez, who releases his 11th album, “Inter-Celtic,” on Tuesday.

“Then you have on the other side the Irish pipes, which are very mellow. And then the Galician pipes are in the middle.”

“For me, the Galician pipes is the fiesta, the party.”

Contact Entertainment Editor Bill Dean at 374-5039 or at bill.dean@gvillesun.com, and follow on Twitter @SceneBillDean.

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