Gringos in Paradise
(And Singing Its Praises)
Guanacaste has become home to many people from outside the area and some of the people are musicians and some of these musicians have recorded songs about their experiences here. So, this column will be dedicated to my five favorite “local” gringo musicians. (Note: the Leatherbacks don’t count because they are a group. Sorry, that’s the rule.)
For the past fifteen years, David Roberts has been dividing his time between Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Playa Tamarindo. He recently released “Tamarindo Sunset” on his own Moonlight Records label. David considers the songs to be “musical postcards”, snapshots of his of his Guanacstecan experience. He is backed by a full band on the disc, playing up-tempo, rock/blues, with lots of local references and a good feeling to it.
During the twelve year span that he lived in the area, Bob Benjamin compiled and released his solo album, “Do You Know?” a country-bluesy collection of songs where Sr. Benjamin also employed the use of his local musician friends to give the album a fuller sound. Bob used to perform solo all over the area. He created a void when he moved away about a year ago.
Maicol Leroy has lived in the area for almost twenty years. His new album, “San Juanillo” is a collection of twelve songs, eight of them penned by Maicol and written in Spanish. The album was recorded in an “open” studio that incorporated natural sounds: everything from monkey and frogs, chickens, and roosters, to surf, wind, and rainfall. It’s a unique, very listenable effort.
Brian Dale splits his time between Canada and Costa Rica. When he’s here, he plays solo all around the Tamarindo area and gives a very personable presentation every night. For his album “peace/love/waves/song” he also utilized musician friends to give the songs a full, studio sound. Live or recorded, he has a sweet, recognizable voice and style. His infectious personality vibrates throughout every performance.
Saving the undisputed best for last, Jesse Bishop hales from Texas but has lived in Langosta for nearly two decades. He has recorded two solid solo albums, “The Road to Tamarindo” and “Gringo in Paradise” along with a live collaboration CD with Fabienne Balzli, “Beauty and the Beast”, a great vehicle for her singing and his guitar work. He also plays in the rock trio The Banana Kings and plays solo around town all the time as well. He’s got a sense of humor, great stage presence and absolutely tears it up on guitar. I think he deserves a mention in the Lonely Planet Travel Guide: “while you’re in Tamarindo, be sure to check out a Jesse Bishop concert”. He’s that good.
Yes, there are other musicians in and around the area who have similar resumes; these are just my personal Top Five, the standouts among a league of very talented musicians who now call Tamarindo home.