Jim ParisiMusic Review

Tierra Seca in Guanacaste

Tierra Seca
Tierra Seca

By Jim Parisi

Max Goldemberg and Odilon Juarez were born into musical Guanacastecan families. They have played music together for most of their lives. For the sake of preserving some of the musical legacy of the area, they recorded a live set of their music and really didn’t think any more about it. It was the first time they had recorded any of their musical escapades. Some of the musicians in attendance went on to create the Costa Rican band Malpais. Recently, Papaya Music uncovered this nugget and decided to share it with a bigger audience. 

Jaime Peligro Books and Music

The result is “Tierra Seca”, a treasure chest of Guanacaste folklore, sounding as if it was recorded on someone’s patio. And it probably was. The two singers trade local songs that are a throwback to a time when Guanacaste was more rural and farmlands, blended with Spanish Colonial times and a little pre-Colombian culture, filtered through time and translated into the songs of town fairs, weddings, serenades and funerals. 

Goldemberg is the son of a Russian immigrant father and a Costa Rican mother and Odilon is the oldest of twelve children of Guanacaste lineage. Two of Odilon’s nephews are Fidel and Jaime Gamboa, the founders of Malpais, whose idea it was to record this traditional music, interpreted by a modern band. In the booklet included with the CD, Jaime imparts a story about working with his uncle (Max) making cheese, singing traditional songs and making up new ones, essentially becoming new threads in the living, woven fabric that is Guanacaste folklore. The music itself has a life of its own: with five or six tempo changes per song, they are a veritable potpourri of every culture that has left an imprint on the area.