Members of the Fin de Fiesta, coming to Penticton’s Cannery Stage on Aug. 9, include guitarist Dennis Duffin, flutist Lara Wong, dancer Lia Grainger and singer Alejandro Mendia. Photo courtesy Fin de Fiesta

Flamenco group bringing their art back home

Fin de Fiesta, formed mostly by Canadians in Spain, will be coming to the Cannery Stage on Aug. 9

If you’ve ever considered quitting your day job and starting a band, members of Fin de Fiesta have you beat — by a long shot.

The five-member flamenco group — set to play Penticton’s Cannery Stage on Aug. 9 — is based out of Seville, Spain, but the members mostly come from Canada.

That includes dancer Lia Grainger, who (mostly) left her career as a journalist — with bylines in publications like Metro Toronto and the Toronto Star — to study flamenco dancing.

While Grainger says she still writes for Reader’s Digest in Spain, she calls flamenco dancing the “focus of my life,” and she’s not the only member to ditch her day job for the art.

Guitarist Dennis Duffin, from Toronto, was studying astrophysics before he took the dive into flamenco, according to Grainger.

“He loves being a musician, and he’s doing really well. He just recorded his first solo album,” Grainger said. “I think he’s pretty happy.”

Fin de Fiesta’s flamenco music involves technical flute and guitar, according to Grainger, who said the singing is often very emotional.

“There’s happy pieces and really kind of dark, sad pieces,” Grainger said. “It was a music and a dance of the street. It started without even physical instruments. It was just the voice and the dance, so you could do it with nothing.”

The dance is “very percussive,” Grainger said, with technical footwork to match the instruments.

“The dance is very intense. There’s different moods that are expressed; there’s joy and sorrow,” she said. “It’s not subtle.”

Grainger said flamenco as it’s seen today is only about 200 years old, and evolved from its origins as artistic expression on the streets to including instruments over the years.

“It’s always changing; it’s a really living art form,” she said.

Grainger had done flamenco dance for years as a hobby in Canada, but as she got more involved, she said she felt the need to move to Spain to fully immerse in it.

“In Sevilla (Seville) or in other parts in the south of Spain, it’s really like you live it. It’s everywhere,” she said. “The way that they speak is the same as the lyrics of songs. You know, you speak the language that is in all of the music.”

Percussionist Davide Sampaulo is originally from Mexico, but was a Vancouver resident before the group formed in Spain, while flutist Lara Wong is from Vancouver.

That means all of the group outside of singer Alejandro Mendia, from France, made a big move to be a part of the group.

“It was interesting to have — we put the group together in Spain, but it’s Canadian, essentially,” Grainger said.

“It’s always nice to go to the source and learn kind of what’s happening right now in flamenco, or in any art or musical form, and then come back and bring it to audiences in your own country,” she added of the group’s tour in Canada.

“This is our first time in Penticton, and I used to go there as a kid, so I’m really excited to go back.”

Part of the excitement for Grainger is to bring a form of performance art to Canada, where not everyone is so familiar with flamenco.

“It’s really fun to be able to perform for people like that,” she said, noting the group is hitting some smaller communities on the tour.

“Often there’ll be people that maybe have heard of it, but they’ve never seen it, or haven’t even really heard of it. And they’re often just really blown away by it, just because it’s really powerful.”

Fin de Fiesta will be bringing their flamenco show to Penticton’s Cannery Stage on Aug. 9, with tickets available at the Nest and Nectar, which will be having a Spanish food buffet dinner prior to the show.

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