Heraclio Pérez, an interview
I met Heraclio Pérez in December 1993 when I traveled to Corrientes in the northeast of Argentina. I visited the family of bandoneon player Avelino Flores. I had made friends with his sons, the guitarist Rudi and the accordionist Nini, who were living in Buenos Aires at the time. They invited me to learn more about his land and the Guaraní culture. Rudi helped me find prominent personalities from Chamamé.
He accompanied me to the house of one of the most important poets of this musical style: Heraclio Pérez, who had written the lyrics to classics such as La Bailanta, Adiós Villa Guillermina and Camino a Mburucuya.
Heraclio Pérez was born on March 2, 1904 in San Luis de Palmar and grew up in Puerto Tirol, in the province of Chaco. In 1930, at the age of 26, he moved to Buenos Aires. In 1937 he founded the Correntino Ramírez Quartet with his friend Marcos Ramírez. With him he wrote chamamé milestones such as Puerto Tirol and Carrero Cachapecero.
Starting in the mid-40s, he wrote for the magazine „Ivera“ under the pseudonym Julián Arroyo. By day he worked as a mechanic and by night he wrote poetry and articles.
When I interviewed him, Heraclio Pérez was almost 90 years old. But I didn’t notice for a moment. He spoke to me about the culture and music of the Guarani Indians with such energy and passion that his enthusiasm infected me. Over a mate, he told me about the origin of the chamamé, at the beginning of the 19th century. How the European polka had arrived in Paraguay around 1850 and had become the Paraguayan Polka. And that is why she cannot be the mother of the Chamamé.
He told me about other Chámame rhythms such as the Chamarrita, the Valseado and the Rasguido Doble, highly appreciated everywhere.
He commented because the Chamamé is a very creative dance. And he taught me lyrics, some of them unpublished, which have since been forgotten. Since Heraclio Perez could hardly see anymore, he asked me to read them aloud, which moved me a lot.
Escuchen ustedes mismos todo lo que me dijo este gran poeta y conocedor del chamamé, fallecido en mayo del 2002 a los 98 años.