An Evening With Los Blue Splendor

Los Blue Splendor: an ancient Chilean '60s blues band attempting to scrape the celebrity barrel for one last chance at fame, or a good old rock n’ roll sextet returning vigorously to continue making uncontrollable foot-tapping music? Most definitely the latter.

Santiago Chile Music Los Blue Splendor documentary
Photo by Rebecca Novell

On January 15, eager fans of all ages poured into Santiago's Centro Arte Alameda for the sold-out pre-screening of the award-winning documentary Los Blue Splendor, followed by an exclusive live performance by the blue-jacket crew themselves. When the doors opened at 9:30 that evening, the band members waited to greet the surge of people reaching to them like a crowd of girls squealing to touch The Beatles. In the chaos, ecstatic fans kissed the band members or shook their hands, hugging, screaming and crying in appreciation.
Santiago Chile Music Los Blue Splendor documentary
Top row, left to right: Wilton Jil (bass), fan, Angel Machiavelli (keyboard), Carlos Cifuentes (alto sax), Jose Riviera (guitar), fan.
Bottom row, left to right: Carlos Andrade (tenor sax), Fernando Chard (vocals/percussion), Angel Machiavelli’s son (keyboard), Manuel Perez (drums).
Photo by Rebecca Novell

A 2008 INEDIT festival winner, the documentary is fantastically snappy. It combines footage from recent unedited studio recordings with that of live gigs, old and new. The six band members each tell their own stories in interviews at different recognizable locations in Valparaíso, letting the audience follow their footsteps on Los Blue Splendor’s historical rock n’ roll journey.

Dedicated to original Los Blue Splendor singer and bass player Rafael Palacios, who passed away during production, the 85-minute documentary also examines the group's influence on bands of today's younger generation. With the use of old photographs, director Manuel González's cinematography finds the perfect balance between music and dialogue.

After the film the crowd roared as the remaining band members took the stage, along with a few additional members, all looking lively as ever in glistening blue jackets.

Fast, loud blues beats kicked in from Manuel Perez on the drums. Smooth New Age jazz tones sounded from the bum-wiggling saxophonists Carlos Cifuentes (alto) and Carlos Andrade (tenor). Piano melodies resonated from the wise keyboardist and documentary musical director, Angel Machiavelli.

The clown Jose Riviera rocked out on his guitar, leading the entire band and the crowd with his twist dance moves and unique head banging. Not one person in the crowd or the band could resist moving or smiling.

Against my expectations, I witnessed Chilean classic rock at its finest from an indescribably passionate band, Los Blue Splendor: "La música es nuestra forma de vida" ("Music is our way of life").

Watch the Los Blue Splendor documentary trailer:

Catch the film at:

Cine Arte Alameda
Alameda 139, Santiago, Chile
Metro Baquedano

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