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Sunday, March 24 2019 @ 03:03 AM UTC

The Ghost and The City

Bands & Music

By Wary Bradshaw for Panama-Guide.com - Do you have a wish list you lust after that’s not available in Panama City? Mine is now amazingly short, and save for one solitary, unrelated item (recently whited out) is comprised mostly of food products such as Haas avocados, Jane’s Crazy Mixed-up Pepper, and instant polenta. I can actually survive without those luxuries. What I can’t live without is live music. I’ve embraced most things Panamanian, but try as I may I have not been able to establish an emotional connection to Latin beats. Well, that and Rap. Don’t yell at me. Music is highly personal, akin to sex. Frequently the payoffs are somewhat similar and the two are frequently compatible, but music by itself won’t make you diseased or pregnant. (For that I thank God.) (more)

I’ve been blessed in the past with the opportunity of seeing and hearing many famous, mega famous, and camp-all-night-in-a-line-to-get-tickets-to-see musical stars, both individual artists as well as groups. I grew up with the inception of rock and roll, forming a lifetime bonding with the beat and the lyrics. I stayed with rock as it morphed into one style after another. Somewhere along the line I discovered the blues . . .

Possessing a passion for live jazz doesn’t require deprivation, as one can gravitate toward Casco Viejo and obtain a weekly jazz fix. But where is the rock? Where are the blues? And can you experience both simultaneously without the bother of venue-hopping? Look no further than The Social Club at El Hotel Panama in Cangrejo where the Expat/Panamanian group, Bitches Ghost, is currently ensconced. They bring forth a memorable blend of both rock and blues, though they bill themselves as “Panama’s Only True Blues Band”. This group of five played to a packed house on September 29th for an audience of appreciative and enthusiastic ticket holders. Not there? Don’t despair! On Halloween night, October 31st, at 8:30 PM and 10:30 PM you’ll have your opportunity to experience something thrilling and possibly haunting. Can’t make it?

Buy your tickets for a similar event following Thanksgiving, on November 24th. You can dance off or clap off your turkey and dressing leftovers. Anticipation is not half the fun of getting there. Being there is the whole enchilada! Where else can you experience a rockin’ Ghost on Halloween? Costumes are optional but prizes will be awarded for best female and best male getups. Tickets are $10 per person and available at the door. Be there or be square . . . (Did I really just say that?)

So what is the deal with the name of this group? Uh, they aren’t immortalizing female, departed, canines now barking on The Other Side. They do have in mind some human “bitchy” relationships from days gone by. Hey, have we not all survived a few painful gigs with the opposite sex? I know from first-hand knowledge that some testosterone driven males can definitely be role models for “bitchiness”. No sexist, politically incorrect moniker this. Just one that is very, very, catchy and clever, which also describes Ghost’s original music. If you want to brag that you “knew them when”, get in on the ground floor before they rocket into stardom. These guys don’t lack talent or experience . . .

Vocalist and lead guitarist, Rod Richards, brings with him an impressive history in the rock world hall of fame. Modesty prevents him from elaborating much on the subject, so if you’re not familiar with the group Rare Earth, Google the name and be prepared to be stunned by the quality, sheer volume, and staying power of their work. A modest rocker? Sounds like an oxymoron, huh? Not in this case. The expression “class act” enters my mind. Rod’s persona may be atypical, but his substantial genius, experience, and stage presence, remain alive and well. Fortunately for the rest of us tin-eared, tone-deaf, musically-challenged souls, Rod truly loves Panama. This country’s Only True Blues Band is here to stay. Better news yet is that a future Ghost album is on the horizon . . .

Little has thus far been written about Ghost’s other talented musician’s. Getting them to talk about themselves is like pulling teeth. Each instrumentalist combines heart, soul, and a love of his art into a successful and professional team concoction that would make a chef proud if we were talking food instead of music. Competitive personal egos are not an ingredient in the mix . . .

John Brock, keyboardist extraordinaire, began playing classical trumpet at the ripe old age of six and continued for twenty years. This “Young Man with a Horn” pursued his passion for music and lyric writing up until the present day. In Panama since the late 90’s John established a successful planning, design, and construction company. He and Rod work “synergistically” composing the original pieces for which Ghost is quickly becoming known. Call them Panama’s own “Paul and John” . . .

We also have a “Ringo”. Panamanian professional graphic designer/drummer Daniel Andrade performs magic with his sticks. At age 11 Daniel was influenced by Led Zepellin’s, “The Song Remains the Same” and never looked back. In the 90’s he recorded with an alternative band, “Dear John”, touring with the group for a year. Pull your eyes off stage front for awhile and focus on Daniel’s beat. It’s more than impressive, this man mesmerizes . . .

Don’t be fooled by the seriousness of David Walker’s expression as he vocalizes or plays blues harp and rhythm guitar. David is multidimensional, multilingual, and multitalented. He’s a retired Lieutenant Colonel possessing fascinating global experiences and multiple graduate degrees. For him being a member of Bitches Ghost is: “A dream come true. And so is playing with one of the best rockers of all time. Our sound and the kind of music we produce is exactly what I want it to be, exactly what I always envisioned being part of.” After the last set David relaxes with a single malt Scotch, counting his blessings . . .

Charismatic Panamanian Enrique Varela completes the group playing bass. He performs brilliantly using the moves, pizzazz, and glitz we associate with successful stage artists. His energy lights up the arena making it impossible not to mirror his persona by returning smiles of joy . . .

The distinctly individual personalities of Bitches Ghost allow us to have a feast for our eyes as well as our ears, and then of course we can also dance. The Aloha State has a curious expression, “Lucky we live Hawaii”. (This is pigeon English and not a typo.) Sooooo, “Lucky we live Panama”. Now if Riba Smith would only import black avocadoes . . .

I welcome all comments: warybradshaw@yahoo.com

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