Thursday, 25 February 2016

Poland's got the blues

Four and a half years ago, in September 2011, I started my year abroad as an Erasmus student. It was an amazing year; I met so many great people and travelled to so many different places. However, the place I called home for nine months was not exactly the one I had planned: whereas I wanted to go the Polish city of Kraków, I ended up being sent to a place 150 km from there, Rzeszów.

Let’s face it, not even Polish people go to Rzeszów. There’s nothing to see there, except a nice market square (which pretty much every Polish town has anyway) and a monument called “Poland’s biggesty pussy” by many. Charming. Still, Erasmus is all about the people, and even the biggest shithole on Earth could be a perfect destination.

Hanging out with my pal Tadeusz (summer 2015)
Regarding Rzeszów’s market square, there’s a statue one hundred metres from there that caught my attention. A guy who looked like some sort of young Eric Clapton, guitar included, had been immortalized. I could read something like “Tadeusz Nalepa, gitarzysta y kompozytor” (Tadeusz Nalepa, guitarist and composer).

Well, if I was going to spend nine months there, I may as well check this guy out. I actually didn’t do it until the last couple of months of my stay, but then I downloaded most of his stuff.

Tadeusz Nalepa wasn’t really born in Rzeszów, but in Zgłobień, in 1943, although he did graduate from the Music Academy in Rzeszów in the departments of violin, clarinet and contrabass. However, what he was really good at was at playing the guitar. He did some damn good blues.

He formed his first band, Blackout, in 1965. It was a relatively short experience, as it disbanded two years later. In 1968 Nalepa formed a new band, Breakout, which lasted until 1981. Breakout released ten albums. He then went on solo, except from brief Breakout reunions and other occasional collaborations, such as the great Numero Uno, an album he recorded with Polish band Dżem. He finally died from a serious illness of his digestive system in 2007.

I understand most of you don’t know Polish; I don’t know it either and it mostly sounds like gibberish to me (no disrespect intended). However, if you like blues, you should give him a chance. Here are a few cool songs from Tadeusz Nalepa: