Ronald Radford

Guitarist Sweeps Audience Away!

A Review By Marcia Lemons

Flamenco guitarist Ronald Radford appeared in concert the evening of March 31 at The School of the Ozarks and took his audience on a trip to southern Spain. Radford combined anecdotes of his time in Spain with passionate, fiery technique on the guitar. He played traditional flamenco music which, as he explained, is not written down anywhere but taught through concentrated listening to masters and practice.

Flamenco, as Radford described it, is a folk music which people everywhere understand. Its subject matter, Radford said, eternally circles the earth and is understood by people of all times and cultures. From the balcony, Radford's guitar and his hands seemed enormous. His strength was such it seemed several guitarists were playing at once. The audience, responding at the end of the first torrent of playing, attempted a few ole's and then shouted out what can only be described as an Arkansas whoop - a sort of EEE-HAWWW.

Through stories and his remarkable skill on the guitar, Radford drew pictures of hot dusty roads, white stucco inns perched on mountainsides; of full moons pouring down on people eating and drinking in courtyards; of county fairs and gypsies; of performances at 3 a.m.; of heat and grief and an ageless lament for that which is lost in everyone's life.

The music was hot-blooded and Radford described gypsy children, coal miners, ancient guitarists, the pride and hospitality of a people and the lonely feeling of being the only foreigner in the crowd.

Near the beginning of the concert Radford repeated what an old gypsy guitarist, who was teaching Radford in Spain, said about listening. The gypsy said people are so busy analyzing and comparing while listening that they don't hear with their hearts.

In retrospect, Radford's delivery of a poem describing the grief which is also inherent in folk music of any nation seems particularly memorable. Before his last selection, Radford recited the lament [by Garcia Lorca] that "flows without stopping, monotonously, like the wind cries over snow-capped mountains, like an afternoon without morning, like a target without an arrow. A heart pierced with five steel swords." Ole!

Southwest Missourian, Kimberling City, MO - By Marcia Lemons