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VIDEO: Flamenco guitarist Adam Westcott mentored by his idol Manitas de Plata

By Herald Express  |  Posted: February 20, 2014

  • Musician: Adam Westcott Andy Styles TQAS20140116C-002_C

  • meeting: Manitas De Plata

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A FLAMENCO guitarist from Teignmouth is still pinching himself after meeting his idol and playing alongside him.

Adam Westcott has looked up to Manitas De Plata, the Picasso of flamenco guitar, for many years and set himself a challenge to thank him personally for inspiring him.

It wasn't an easy task to track down the 92-year-old flamenco legend, but Adam wasn't going to give up.

He called various bars in the Montepellier area, where he knew Manitas lives and got help and tips on where to find him.

Eventually Adam got hold of Manitas' favourite bar and left his telephone number.

Not long after Adam received the phone call which, he says, has changed his life.

Manitas called him and before long Adam was on a plane to France to meet him.

"I went into his apartment and every turn revealed new treasures, including pictures of him with the Queen and The Beatles," said Adam.

"I played for him and he was really complimentary. He showed me techniques and he has altered my playing for the better.

"He then invited me back the next day and showed me photo albums depicting the big moments in his career. I saw a video of his life that had been made.

"He's had an incredible life. He was captured by the Nazis and played throughout the concentration camps. Picasso said he was a genius and he also played alongside Salvador Dali.

"Manitas' playing is so free and very different from tradition Flamenco, which is very rhythmic."

On the final day, the pair went to a local beach.

"He got dressed up and told me he had not been out for a while as his son passed away," said Adam.

"He said I made him happy and he wanted to go out in the fresh air and feel the sun on his skin.

"We sat on the beach and in his favourite bar," said Adam.

"Manitas didn't say anything for about 20 minutes and we both took in the atmosphere.

"He said people try to get in touch with him but there was something about me and I was special. It was amazing to hear."

Since returning from his meeting with Manitas and being mentored by him, Adam decided to write a book about the highs and lows of being a musician called Hurry Up and Wait — The Madness of the Music Industry.

"I wanted to document everything that's happened to me from getting into debt to living on words of agents to travelling the world on cruise ships to having part-time jobs to sustain a music career," said Adam.

There's no denying Adam's talent but he's the first to admit that, at times, life has been tough.

He's had to work in a Spar convenience store and in a bakery to make ends meet.

That aside, he's enjoyed success and has been Mercury nominated and, for the last three years, he's been playing cruise ships and travelled the world.

"It has been a great way to earn money and travel. I had to play around three 45-minute sets a day at sea," he said.

"I got to go to Scandinavia, Russia, America, South America, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean."

He's now back on home turf and has already had meetings with an agent in London.

"I've just recorded some demos and now want to get work as a musician on land," said Adam.

"I'd love to get on tour with another acoustic act like Katie Melua."

DAWN ELLIS

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