There aren’t many instances where the phrases “Folk Rock,” “Latin Rock,” “Thrash Metal” and “acoustic guitars” are diagrammed in the same sentence. But Rodrigo y Gabriela have always been adept at defying convention.
Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero met in the late ’90s in Mexico City while entrenched in a Metal band called Tierra Acida and, after discovering their mutual disenchantment over the local music scene, decided to relocate to Europe for a completely fresh start, musically and culturally. The pair ultimately settled in Dublin, Ireland, where they found plenty of gigging and busking opportunities as well as an enthusiastic and supportive audience. RyG’s debut album, 2001’s Foc, was well received, as was its follow-up, 2002’s Re-Foc, which featured re-recordings of songs from the debut as well as a handful of new tracks.
It was the duo’s 2006 eponymous third studio album that launched their international success.
In Ireland, the album entered the charts at No. 1, and it hit the Top 100 in England, France and Switzerland, eventually notching sales of more than half a million units. But it wasn’t until a 2007 MTV feature that Rod and Gab began attracting serious attention in America.
The duo’s newest album 11:11, released last fall to overwhelming acclaim, features their trademark percussive rhythms and intricate leads that reference both their Metal background and Latin heritage. The album’s tracks are each dedicated to a different artist that has inspired Rod and Gab in significant ways: Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, Al DiMeola, John McLaughlin, Pink Floyd and Astor Piazzolla are all honored.
But perhaps the most poignant dedication on 11:11 comes with “Atman,” a tribute to slain guitarist Dimebag Darrell that features an appearance by Testament/Savatage guitarist Alex Skolnick, whose trio is supporting Rod and Gab on this U.S. tour. It’s probably never occurred to you to fist pump or devil horn or headbang at a Folk show; Rodrigo y Gabriela are happy to give you a reason to do all three.
(Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.)