The Number 26 Bus to Paraguay

A new book containing eleven, previously unreleased, beautiful new guitar pieces plus the story of how a number 26 Brighton bus took a musician all the way to Paraguay has now been published. 

Richard Durrant’s amazing, colourful and intriguing new book is called The Number 26 Bus to Paraguay.

Richard explains:

“As a kid I used to catch the number 26 bus every Wednesday night from where I lived on a council estate just outside Brighton to guitar lessons in Hove. 

I loved that bus ride; I’d sit all alone on the upper deck, gazing out at the Sussex Downs watching the changing seasons. I made that journey for years, regular as clockwork. It was a musician’s journey, full of dreams.

I also remember one hot summer’s afternoon, just back from school and playing in the garden under the open kitchen window. My Mum had put my favourite Alirio Diaz record on the family radiogram and the music of Agustín Barrios was blaring out of the house.”

Agustin Barrios, 1922

Agustin Barrios, 1922

“Many years later I was living nine miles along the coast in Shoreham by Sea, with children of my own.  And one of those No 26 bus ride dreams had come true: I was living the life of a full time musician.

Then one day in early 2011 – whilst working on a collection of recordings of music by Barrios – the phone rang. It was a man with a strong South American accent:

“Would you consider travelling to Paraguay to play some concerts and launch your new album?”.

I smiled: “OK”.

There remained just one important question: 

What to call the album?

The answer was easy:  The Number 26 Bus to Paraguay.

A page from Richard Durrant's brilliant new book

In April 2011 Richard arrived in Paraguay for the first time and a new musical adventure began. Over the next few years he returned to this fascinating land which inspired some of his finest work, amazing tales, three albums, awards and accolades.

In this beautiful book, guitarist and composer Richard Durrant tells his story in music, pictures and words. With artwork by Mark Charlton, photos from Richard’s tours and a vibrant cover illustration by Miranda Vincent 

The Number 26 Bus to Paraguay is available now in its limited first edition from this website. It will also be on sale at live shows.

Richard Durrant and Ismael Ledesma

Hear Richard Durrant and Paraguayan harpist Ismael Ledesma live in concert 11-16 October in London, Shoreham-by-Sea, Crawley, Edinburgh, Scopwick and Swindon.

Please install the The Events Calendar or The Events Calendar Pro Plugin to display a list of upcoming Events

Richard Durrant Ukulele Workshops

By popular demand! Richard is offering a series of fantastic opportunities to learn the Ukulele this autumn. Whether you are a complete beginner or want to improve your Uke skills these workshops are for you. Held in Shoreham-by-Sea and Brighton there are three courses on offer – each for an hour a week over a six week period starting 26 October.

Richard Durrant Ukulele Workshops

Ukulele Ground Zero

If you are a complete beginner this course is for you. This six-week introduction to uke playing is an informative, enjoyable and a comprehensive way to start your ukulele adventures. Join Richard for this gentle and friendly way to get started with this accessible and fun filled instrument.

WHERE: Ropetackle Arts Centre, Little High Street, Shoreham-by-Sea. BN43 5EG

WHEN: 6pm to 7pm First session is on Wednesday 26 October 2016

Ropetackle Arts Centre

Ukulele Circuit Training

If your uke playing has plateaued, then this immensely enjoyable and popular weekly musical workout is the perfect solution. Learn new techniques whilst developing a deeper and more instinctive understanding of chords, notes and songs. Join Richard and get closer to your inner uke in a friendly and exhilarating hour of musical keep-fit in Shoreham-by-Sea or Brighton this Autumn.

WHERE: Ropetackle Arts Centre, Little High Street, Shoreham-by-Sea. West Sussex. BN43 5EG

WHEN: 7.30pm – 8.30pm starting on Wednesday 26 October 2016

Ropetackle Arts Centre

WHERE: Hobgoblin Music, Queens Road, Brighton.BN1 3XF

WHEN: 7pm – 8pm starting on Thursday 27 October 2016

Hobgoblin Music

Each course is just £60 for the 6 week course

For more information call 01273 453422.

Ismael Ledesma

In the second part of our interviews into the background to Richard Durrant’s collaboration with the Paraguayan harpist Ismael Ledesma, Nicholas Keyworth caught up with Ismael who now lives in Paris.

Ismael explains the chance meeting with Richard which began their collaboration:

A friend of mine, Robert Munro, invited me to hear Richard in concert in London. From the very first notes I was spellbound by his music and his personality. I went to find him after the concert and I found him to be really friendly. Robert Munro invited Richard around to his house near Oxford. He played his guitar and I played him a bit of harp, and, voilà, the magic began!

I was fascinated to hear more about this unusual pairing of instruments and how it works in practice. Ismael explained:

The guitar and the harp go very well together and it’s quite a common combination in Paraguay. But the combination of me and Richard is particularly interesting because we are both soloists with freedom of spirit and in two completely different worlds. We are both totally in service to the music and we want to share this combination and show that two very different personalities from two very different parts of the globe can give happiness to the world!

Ismael went on to explain more about the musical points of connection between the duo:

Our point of connection is the the freedom of music and the desire to play together. Richard loves my music, and I love his, and we both have the freedom to come together and share the variety from our two cultures. 

Richard Durrant and Ismael Ledesma

Being authentic in musical performance is a big thing these days. I asked Ismael to what extent the music they play is true to its Paraguayan roots – or are they creating something new? 

We become authentic as soon as we become different from others. In my case, my Paraguayan roots are ever present but I think that I’m unusual because I’m a creator and I don’t copy others. I write my own music and I believe in it. I’ve chosen the most difficult path, and I’ve faced conservatism that wanted to wound me or criticise me. It has been hard, but not impossible. As well as being an interpreter, I consider myself as someone who respects the work of the composer. Richard is an interpreter as well as a creator who brings something different to the music!

Finally, I asked Ismael how collaborations like theirs can continue to thrive in a possible future political climate of change with Brexit and the danger of drifting apart. He gave me a typically pragmatic answer:

Music has no boundaries and and this is what gives Richard and I great pleasure because we embrace the freedom and the union of two totally different cultures. We always find a way to come together and play. This time, I’m crossing the Channel to meet up with him. The next time it will be he who comes to me, and we also have the freedom to go elsewhere. England and France will never be separated – we all need each other!

Hear Richard Durrant and Ismael Ledesma live in concert 11-14 October in London, Shoreham-by-Sea, Crawley, Edinburgh, Scopwick and Swindon.

Please install the The Events Calendar or The Events Calendar Pro Plugin to display a list of upcoming Events