21 Aug, 2016 | Laetitia Nappert-Rosales


Photo: Valeria Wilde

The sitting room, with family portraits,glass cabinet of antiquedishes and old round tablewith crocheted tablecloth, feltdemure and quiet at first. Suddenly itwakes up with the firm strumming of thecharango accompanied by lively lyrics.Dressed in a tight white shirt, large beltbuckle and dark jeans, his jet-blackhair falling on his shoulders, Saxomancloses his eyes and delves deeper intothe song. He sings of his grandmother,recently passed away. The lyrics ‘I lovemy mamá so much’ are uncomplicatedbut genuine. This Latino cowboy isthe talented and well-loved Bolivianartist Americo Estevez Roman, betterknown as Saxoman.Born in La Paz in 1971, Americo is froma family of musicians. His uncle wrotethe famous song ‘Collita’ about hiswife in 1950s. Americo started playingdrums in a band, Los Casanovas, withhis uncles. Experimenting with differentinstruments, he eventually playedthe saxophone on the street to makea little money to support his family. Hewas spotted and featured by the TV program Gigavision. The director of the show jokingly calledhim Saxoman, and the name stuck.Saxoman stops singing and launches into an explanationabout how he learnt to play the charango. He wanted to createa Youtube video to welcome Pope Francis to Bolivia.‘But who was going to play the charango for me?’ he askedhimself. ‘I don’t know how to play the charango! I’ve neverplayed it in my life!’Saxoman couldn’t find any volunteers, but a friend offeredto loan him a charango – for only an hour. ‘“One hour?!” Isaid, “Okay that’s fine.”’ He learnt how to play the instrumentin 20 intense minutes.Saxoman’s pope video embodies his determination. Experimental,humourous and enticing, it brings a smile towhoever watches it. One minute Saxoman is playing thecharango with Bolivian President Morales’s face in the cornerof the screen, the next he is flying through the universe.Saxoman describes this style as slow rock, highlighting hischarango playing and his son Gabriel on the drums. He sayshe made lots of friends through the video. Impressively, itwas all shot on an old phone.Through his videos, Saxoman offers an insight into his fantasticalworld of Bolivia. He is no doubt a proud paceño, asseen by his video entitled ‘La Paz Ciudad Turistica’, sungwith the backdrop of the city at night. Thousands of lightstwinkling in the background give a sense of the expansivenessand vibrancy of the city. Saxoman sings of the majesticIllimani, the iconic mountain that towers over the city.Saxoman and his sons, who form a new iteration of LosCasanovas, simply play together on a balcony. The songbegins with drums accompanying an Andean flute, turninginto slow rock that also ties in different Bolivian musicalstyles. Eventually, Saxoman hitches his guitar over hisshoulder for an impressive solo.Saxoman’s passion for music is unparalleled. He states, ‘Ifall in love every day,’ and it is this love that inspires him towrite his songs.Saxoman is 45 years old, ‘with the soul of a child,’ he adds.Every child’s fantasy is to be a superhero, and so Saxomanand his band portray themselves as fictitious characterswho carry and play their instruments as deadly weapons tobattle the bad guys. Saxoman doesn’t make much moneyfrom his music; his only income is from busking. Despitehis increasing fame, he wants to stay true to himself andhis roots. He’s been featured on Bolivian TV, including LaRevista, and in the newspaper La Razón. Despite this, hismain goal is to entertain kids and adults alike, whilst simultaneouslymaking his wildest dreams become a reality. Nomatter how great his future fame, Saxoman says he’ll continueto play music for the people on the streets in the BarrioChino, Miraflores and Zona Sur districts of La Paz.Not only is Saxoman a people’s man, but he is a man of theBolivian people. Vibrant, exciting and determined, he perfectlyrepresents La Paz and its inhabitants. Through hismusic, Saxoman shares his paceño spirit with the rest ofthe world. He entertains with all that he enjoys and is fascinatedby, be it superheroes, magic and even Smurfs.His music invites you to view life as he does, in a uniqueand exciting way


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