Bernal Villegas has paid his dues. He has been in the Costa Rica rock & roll scene for a good twelve years, a guitar slinger and composer who has earned an excellent reputation for himself in the local music community. In 1996, he started the band Suite Doble with Marta Fonseca, who has since put herself on the national music map as well. His next venture, the short-lived band called 50 al Norte, gained recognition for their only CD, “Religion”, by distinguishing themselves as the first Central American rock group to use horns in their arrangements. Both bands carry their own legacies and both are now defunct. They have both also been included in the Papaya Music compilation CD, “Costa Rica Rock & Pop”, which lends credence to Bernal Villegas’ contributions to the Costa Rica rock scene.
In the meantime, Villegas has become a desirable commodity in the studio, as an accomplished, diverse guitar player and for his knowledge at mixing and mastering recordings. Recent evidence of Bernal’s popularity is in his slick guitar work on most of the songs on the new Papaya CD by Amigosintimos, “En el Pais de las Maravillas”.
Now, Bernal Villegas is ready to make a name for himself. He has recruited the maniacal drummer Carlos Morales, who played in Suite Doble with him, and bassist Abel Guier from the popular Costa Rican band Gandhi, to form the rock trio Villegas, then record and produce a CD by the same name. “I think with this disc, we finished one cycle and then opened another,” says Villegas, who wrote and sang all the songs on the CD, as well as providing the blazing guitar work and co-producing the album.
While recording the Amigosintimos CD, Villegas worked side by side with executive producer Andres Quintana and musical producer Eduardo Olive’. Bernal has recruited both to provide their same talents on his album, with Olive’ assisting Villegas with the mixing and mastering, as well as lending his keyboard playing to the recording. There are some interesting studio tricks on the disc, but the result comes off as a clean and well planned straight-forward rock & roll package. The accompanying booklet, like the music, is direct and to the point: song titles, lyrics and photos, with credits on the final page. The tee shirts the band members wear in the photos display their influences, from Megadeath to Led Zeppelin.
Villegas offers nine new songs, in addition to “Estas Putas Guerras”, which he wrote during his days with 50 al Norte and rerecorded for this inaugural disc. Other highlights on the CD include “Que Locura” and the opening number, “A Dios le Pido”.
The band recently premiered the album live before an anxious crowd at Jazz Café in Escazu with a unanimously positive response. The patrons of this establishment are renowned for being a music-savvy crowd and the establishment has built a very good reputation for featuring top-notch acts, so the bandmembers considered this show a real boost for their credibility.
In Playa Tamarindo, all Papaya Music CDs, including “Villegas” is available at Jaime Peligro, where they will gladly sample the music for their customers. All comments concerning this article are welcome.