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Rodrigo y Gabriela

Rodrigo y Gabriela perform Saturday, July 20 at the Robert Mondavi Winery.

Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero are celebrated Mexican guitarists who have taken a musical road less traveled. Playing traditional acoustic flamenco instruments, they are percussive jammers primarily influenced by jazz, mainstream rock and heavy metal. They perform this Saturday, July 20 at the Margrit Mondavi Summer Concert Series at the Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville.

The duo has been a presence at BottleRock, both on the main stages and in after-shows. At their 2016 festival performance, they were accompanied by Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo.

They musically grew up in the rock scene in Mexico City and then tried to make it as performers in Ixtapa on the Pacific coast, busking and playing at resort hotels. Frustrated with their progress, they made a radical decision which would dramatically alter their careers. They relocated to Dublin, Ireland.

Playing on the street corners and in the pubs on Grafton Street in Dublin, the same settings that launched the careers of Damien Rice and Glen Hansard, Rodrigo y Gabriela caught on, drawing large crowds and planting the seeds for a record deal, bookings in large venues and, eventually, international popularity.

Their material is a combination of originals and a catalogue of covers including “Wish You Were Here” (Pink Floyd), “Stairway to Heaven” (Led Zeppelin) and songs by Metallica, Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine and others.

They have recorded eight albums. Their most recent is “Mettavolution,” which includes a 19-minute instrumental version of Pink Floyd’s “Echoes.”

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In a 2019 interview with AllMusic.com, Quintero talked about the duo’s heavy integration of percussion on the bodies of the guitars along with strumming and picking. “In this band, I became like a drummer and a bass player,” she said. “I’ve been asked many times about what effects I use to come up with the beats.”

“We’re a very visual act, and people like to see what the hell we’re doing. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t think anybody can do beats like this. So our lighting guy came up with these little cameras for the guitars and he projects them behind us when we’re playing, with different angles. We’ve been doing this for years.”

She said that she and Rodrigo do not regard themselves as soloists. “We never thought of ourselves as guitar heroes. We like bands that have great guitarists, but we’re not so much into one guitarist, like Satriani, we both like bands like Testament and Megadeth, where you have two great guitar players. When we came up with playing together, we were trying to come up with ways to complement one another rather than compete for who is the fastest.”

On the contrary, talking about the recording and performing of “Echoes,” Quintero described the pleasures of doing a long, slow piece. “Nowadays we need more music like that,” she said, “music that can make us go a little deeper. That is the music I love, music with deep, profound emotions. Now everything is fast, short and light, and I think it’s important to counteract all of that.”

Saturday, July 20, 7 p.m. (doors open 5 p.m.). General admission $95 (All levels of tickets are sold out). All proceeds from this season’s ticket sales go to the Napa Valley Unified School District’s music programs. Robert Mondavi Winery, 7801 St. Helena Highway, Oakville. 888-766-6328. RobertMondaviWinery.com.

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David Kerns is a Napa-based novelist and freelance journalist. You can view more of his work at DavidKerns.com.

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