Rocoto Blues Band is a multicultural musical melting pot centred around a blues core. The band covers three continents with it’s music and personnel and is based in Lima, Peru.

Diego Vargas Guitars & Vocals

Gerd Hemeryth Drums & Percussion

Jose Meneses Bass & Vocals

Andy Brotherton Guitars

Julio Gallardo Live Sound & Recording

Mixing the sounds of traditional blues with Peruvian instruments like the Charango & Zampoña, brings a set of colours that expand the blues palette to allow an expansion of the blues oeuvre. The inimitable Johnny Perez added Charango, Zampoña, Flute & Conch to tracks for the E.P. Further South, bringing to life band leader Diego Vargas’ dream of Blues mixed with Peruvian musical cultural influences.

After some gigs together over a couple of years with several of Peru’s top blues musicians joining the band, the line up solidified in Summer 2016 around Diego’s vocals and Andy’s guitar playing, with the excellent rhythm section of Gerd & Jose & the multi-instrumental force & character that is the larger than life Johnny Perez. A conscious decision to include Julio Gallardo as a permanent member, allowed the band to explore getting the delicate instruments in balance, alongside the power instruments used in blues.

Recording began in earnest that same Summer at the wonderful Elias Ponce Studios in Lima, overseen by Peru’s exemplary Jose Carlos Ponce, who engineered, mixed & mastered the band recording a cover of Willie Dixon’s Hoochie Coochie Man, melding the blues with traditional Peruvian energy through the use of the Conch & Zampoña, fighting for space with Harmonica & Guitars, notably slide electric guitar.

That powerful statement gave birth to the song writing that in turn culminated in the 5 track E.P Further South, released on the band’s own Munire Music label, with the remaining 4 tracks recorded at the new boutique Munire Studios in the heart of the artistic quarter of Lima, Barranco. The 4 originals, 3 songs & one instrumental, were recorded by the whole band & mixed & mastered as a collaborative effort between Julio, Diego & Andy.

An expansion of the music of Rocoto Blues Band coupled with the conviction that the band had set out it’s musical path with a true aim, has now led Diego & Andy to begin looking further ahead, with the aim of bringing the Rocoto Blues Band to the attention of the wider world. In the Fall of 2017 the band scaled down to a tight 4 piece, allowing a more flowing and jamming nature to their music. This has given the trio of Diego, Gerd & Jose a new level of musical inspiration and, when playing also with Andy, the band has a new depth of communication in their music.

The Rocoto Blues Band have an energy that is intoxicating, like the woven spell of the Shaman, or the simple musical charm and raw power of the blues. Wherever you are listen to the tracks that make up Further South & make a note to catch The Rocoto Blues Band live. Their music will expand your tastes and enrich your soul, while shaking your world, with the sound of the blues from Peru.

Diego Vargas is Rocoto Blues. His deep sonorous voice speaks only in blues. He is my very good and cherished friend and one who understands the elemental nature of the lives we live and where the music comes from. The Blues comes through Diego and out into all the music that The Rocoto Blues Band makes.

A common form in blues music is the call & response. The chant of the slave alone and the response of his fellow slaves. When I hear the voice that has developed in Diego, that has been within him all his life, coming out in the music we create together, I hear only the blues. In it’s joy and it’s pain, in it’s nature and almost monotheistic purity, blues music exists as our response to the blues nature of existence.

For me music has always meant jazz and not blues. It still does but knowing Diego and collaborating with him to create music and projects that support it, has given me a single minded sense of pure aim, that perhaps my simple brain could not find in jazz alone. I’ve been led to that by Diego’s musical vision and am happy to live there now, like a homecoming in a place we always knew existed but needed the time to find and the maturity to accept.

As an example the late great bassist, band leader & many time musical collaborator Charlie Haden led the elemental force that was called the Liberation Music Orchestra. His music was always simple yet all encompassing. It was jazz but it was the blues. I understand that now.

When Diego Vargas sings and plays music, it is the blues. We should all take the time to listen to anyone who has maintained purity and simplicity  with his vision and bought it to the world, collaborating with and inviting others to contribute to making that vision into reality. That is what Diego has done with Rocoto Blues Band and in every area of his life.

It is a privilege to have been invited to be a part of that life in music and personally. It’s a challenge that needs to be accepted with care and pursued with honesty. The unwavering guidance that is in Diego’s voice, forms the blues music that we play in Rocoto, into a force of nature that I feel all around and within.

Rocoto. Noun. (plural rocotos) A kind of chili pepper of the species Capsicum pubescens grown in Peru and Bolivia.

When blues music summons us it brings with it all the elements needed in complete and singular form. Blues is slow and blues is hot and blues is everything in between and in our souls. But always the blues is our life. How we interpret that is the gift we offer to others. For Diego I know blues is the music he hears and gives to the world through the Rocoto Blues Band.