'The challenge is finding new bands'

The Black Music Festival began as a night of blues in 2002 and hasn't stopped growing since

What's your experience with English?
I started English at university as I was studying to become a primary school teacher and one speciality was English. But I never worked as a teacher because I had a band and prefered to play music. So the English I learnt at university became a tool for working in music management and producing festivals. My job is to close deals with artists and most of them are international so their managers tend to speak English.
Do you have to travel a lot in your job as BMF organiser?
Travelling is important to meet international artists and see other festivals. My speciality is black music, which we've not had a lot of in Catalonia. Our job is not only to programme big stars but, most importantly, to find emerging artists, who might be well-known in New Orleans, for instance, but who are totally unknown here.
How did you go from almost becoming a teacher to musician to taking charge of the BMF?
It's been a long road. I first had a Catalan rock band and then started working with a management company, doing production, communication and other tasks. Years later, we opened a concert venue in Salt –La Mirona– and that's when I realised that what I wanted was to work in concert venues and so I went in that direction. We were dealing with all kinds of concerts, from rock and salsa, to folk and punk. But we had the idea of doing something different that reflected what we enjoyed. We first had the idea of a blues festival. But, in 2002 there were a lot of blues and jazz festivals. We liked black music so we thought it might be a good idea to focus on blues, soul, funk, R&B, hip-hop and so the BMF began.
Has the experience of being a musician helped you?
It was useful because you know what it means to be on stage, as well as having a knowledge of music. I was a rock'n'roll musician, but I was interested in learning about other musical styles. Being a musician was the best training for my current job. Now there are university degrees in cultural programming but 20 years ago we learnt on the job. Most people in producing are or have been musicians.
So how did BMF start?
It has been an annual event since the first edition. The first year was a trial to see what happened with blues. We did one night of blues and it was very successful; people asked for more. The following year we did a weekend, then two weekends, and started bringing in international artists. It has grown ever since, with more artists, a bigger profile and budget. At first, this music wasn't on the radio and so it wasn't so popular. But in time people's interest increased until 2006, when there was a big international boom in black music with Amy Winehouse, Duffy, Eli Paperboy Reed. Soul was the music of the moment and many bands in Catalonia started to play this style. Now we have the problem that there are too many Catalan bands who want to take part in the festival but there aren't enough stages for all of them.
What's the proportion of foreign acts to domestic acts?
Sixty per cent local bands to forty per cent international acts. Everyone wants the top international artists, such as Maceo P arker, but the challenge is for people to discover new bands.
And this year's BMF?
It starts on February 28 and lasts until March 21. We have Maceo Parker, Richard Bona, Eli Paperboy Reed, The Coup, Miles Sanko and Catalan artists, such as Fundación Toni Manero, Frank Knurf, The Gramophone Allstars Big Band, among others. It's all on our website (www It takes place in different venues, inside and outside. It's a good opportunity to travel to Girona and Salt and discover the city's landscape and gastronomy while listening to good music.
Are you already looking ahead at next year?
The work never stops, especially with international artists, who have tours. It's like doing a puzzle fitting in all the dates, venues and music genres.
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