I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Argentinian guitar player, Nico Bereciartua play live on 2 occasions. Once at Applehead studios in Woodstock, New York, and once at Chicago’s, Metro. Oddly enough he is also the person that took my bucket list photograph of Rich Robinson, Marc Ford, and myself at the previously mentioned Applehead recording session.
I spent 2 days in the recording booth at Applehead Studios watching the magic of that event unfold and Nico’s playing impressed me from the first notes I heard him play.
When he’s not helping resurrecting the spirit of Delaney and Bonnie & Friends by playing with a wide range of people and musical styles, he’s working hard back in Argentina on his own music. His slide technique is uniquely his own and I wanted to get a hold of him to find out more about his time with The Magpie Salute and what he’s up to next.
JG: I believe that Rich first saw your videos on Youtube and invited you to be a part of the project, was Woodstock the first time you two got together and how much time did you have scheduled for the recording?
NB: No, by the time we got to Woodstock we already have been touring for 5 weeks. When Rich contacted me he was looking for a second guitar player so I flew in to NYC to his art show and played a couple of songs on acoustic. The next day we met and he asked me if I wanted to join his band for the Flux tour.
JG: Very cool. How do you approach a session/tour like that where you have to learn a ton of songs in a relatively short amount of time?
NB: It was a lot of hard work. Luckily for me Rich was starting the tour with Bad Company so that gave me more time to learn all of the songs he sent me. There were about 140 songs I learned in 2 months. It was more listening all the time to that same list, playing them a lot of times, and writing charts to get them in my head but I never used them (charts) to play live.
JG: During the Applehead Studio weekend, I heard Rich Robinson mention that you were a big fan of Marc’s playing and career. There were a number of cool photos during that tour of you and Marc sitting together between shows playing. Did you have that time to pick his brain or was it more like just jamming and watching what he played?
NB: Yes, Marc, and Rich as well, were two of my favorite players. It was more fluid, close to a jam and I would hear what they were playing and try something else but always trying not to get in their way or overplay on a song.
Photo by John Hayhurst
JG: I could ask the same of Rich but it seems that Rich asked you to play because of what you were already doing.
NB: With Rich alone it was different, he would play lead and I would play rhythm and vice versa.
JG: Losing Ed Harsh right after that Applehead session was a tough blow to anyone who ever heard him play or had any interaction with him. Do you have any recollections of your time with him that you’d like to share.
NB: He really was a character…it was of course my first time meeting him. I remember he walked with me to get an ice cream in a show before Woodstock that he sat in with us and I would ask him about Albert Collins and he told me when he played with Muddy. It was sad when he passed.
JG: Between Woodstock and touring, did you head back home to Argentina or stay in the states an prep? And what was the prep like once it was in full effect?
NB: I always came back to Argentina between the tours and Rich would send a list with songs to learn and it would be the same method to learn them.
JG: Did you have much input in the songs or how did you guys get that list together? I’ve listened to almost every show from that 2017 tour and not a single show was the same. Very impressive.
NB: We had a huge list before the tour started and then some songs were added…like maybe we would watch a Little Feat show on the bus and then Fat Man In The Bathtub would be on the list the next day…I thought that was great.
JG: Is there anything you would like to add about The Magpie Salute before I change gears?
NB: It was a great experience, I’ve learned a lot and accomplished one of my biggest dreams. I also met a lot of cool people and remain friends with some of them. I’m sad that it ended for me but of course I wish them all the best…there’s not many people that can play like them.
JG: Do you come from a musical family and was guitar your first instrument? I know that you play a mandolin also, anything else??
NB: My father (Vitico Bereciartua) is a well known musician in Argentina..he’s a Bass player so I was always around music in my childhood. Guitar was my first instrument and I play bass as well, I’m not a mandolin player..I did that to add a different texture on some of the songs with Magpie.
JG: I saw an interview where you reference a well know Argentinian guitar player as one of your influences, can you remind me of who that was?
NB: He’s name is Pappo, huge influence for every single guitarist here in Argentina. He was also like an uncle to me since he was my father’s best friend and he was always around.
Nico with Duane Allman’s 1957 Gold Top at the Big House Museum.
JG: Who else were you listening to when forming your slide technique?
NB: Ry Cooder most of all, but also Elmore James, Mick Taylor, and Johnny Winter. Later on I found Duane Allman and it was life changing. Then Derek Trucks took it to another level.
JG: Growing up in Argentina who were you listening to and who are you listening to now?
NB: Growing up was a lot lot lot of the Stones of course…AC/DC and a lot of blues as well. There’s some really great folk music from Argentina that I listen…different from the States.
I think there are some very good bands right now like The Wood Brothers, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Lukas Nelson, Blackberry Smoke, and Durand Jones and The Indications.
JG: In 2016 you won a Premio Gardel (comparable to a Grammy or a BRIT award) for Best New Rock Artist with your first album Nico, and we talked previously that your second Album is now recorded. When will it be out and will you be able to tour world wide?
NB: I hope it’ll be ready for April 2019. Touring world wide is difficult when you are from Argentina…it’s too far away and expensive for us but I dream about playing my music in different places. Hopefully….
JG: Well when you do come I know that the people you reached through your time in The Magpie Salute will be there to support you and your music.
I’ll finish up with my own guitar gear question. What is your standard guitar rig for electric , guitar, amps, pedals, and what is the acoustic that you sit around the house playing?
NB: Right now I’m playing a Gibson SG, Epiphone Casino, Fender Strat through a Fender hot rod deluxe 1×12’’ and using a Purple Nurple Drive from BMF effects. I use one of his boosters as well, a tremolo and that’s it.
Acoustic I’m using a Gibson Firebird Custom Shop that Rich gave me as a gift on the first tour.
Huge thanks to Nico for taking some time out of his busy schedule to talk with me about his experiences and what he’s working on. You can grab his first album, Nico, from the Bandcamp link below and also find it on Spotify and iTunes. Keep an eye out for his next album in April and with enough support, maybe a US tour will be in the works.
There is also a very cool EP titled Sesion El Universal available from iTunes with Titi Stier, Fede Petro, and Nico on guitar. The 3 song EP beautifully covers “My Winding Wheel” by Ryan Adams, “Learn to Breathe”, and “Whipping Post” by The Allman Brothers.