50 Years After The First Progressive Music Recital: Rock Thundered in Santiago

50 Years After The First Progressive Music Recital: Rock Thundered in Santiago

50 Years After The First Progressive Music Recital: Rock Thundered in Santiago

On July 9, 1972, 50 years ago, Santiago del Estero shuddered with the first progressive music concert, organized by Grupo SER, which brought together musicians from different bands that ventured into rock. It was a cultural event that marked a pivotal moment in the province.

Carlos Ricardo “Cacho” Gerez , musician and singer, remembers his 70 years: “In 1972 it was a year of explosion – not only here but throughout the world – of that youth who were looking for new horizons and life processes. Then it was transmitted through music and meetings with different themes, until the idea of ​​doing a national, progressive or international music recital arose here in Santiago del Estero, which had never been done before and that was reflected on this date”.

This concert not only involved a meeting of musicians, but also the confluence of a movement of young people who demanded a cultural change, in a world historical period that sought a break with the established conservative order. That same year the “Belenazo” was unleashed in this capital, with the student protests against the “onganiato” to demand a public university and groups were already beginning to articulate with the conviction of a revolutionary process. At the same time, the repressive apparatus began to carefully observe these movements in preparation for the repression that would be unleashed as of 1976, against many of those young people who were the protagonists of these actions.

At that time, the musical epicenter revolved around the “El Ojo” record store, on Independencia 261, where musicians and fans from the center and the neighborhoods gathered, attracted by the novelties that were beginning to arrive, according to Julio Carreras , the protagonist in the gestation. of these cultural movements. In April 1972, meetings were arranged, nuanced with musical zappadas, at the house of Lali Alcorta and Lucky Gómez , in Villa Constantina, where SER, a spontaneous group of musicians, would be created.

At those meetings where instruments were shared to make music and improvise, young people began to arrive attracted by the effervescence, who were active in the Peronist Youth or the Workers’ Revolutionary Party (PRT). Carreras says that there were two marked factions between the “hippies” and the political militants.

This is how “Cacho” Geréz remembers it: “That was put together in various meetings in private homes to see what would come out after all this; It was more than anything an improvisation because we had no idea or experience of doing recitals and there was no specific place. A place was sought almost in the suburbs of the capital and groups were formed with different ideas and types of music, but all under the banner of national rock, which had derived from bands of that time such as Iracundos, Wild Cats – with Lito Nebbia – , then appeared ( Luis Alberto ) Spinetta with Almond, Coven, Soul and Life, Vox Di, Pappo ”.

The organizers agreed that the recital should be held in one of the capital’s neighborhoods, not in the center of the city, to give it a more popular sense and closeness to the many rock fans, who are increasingly numerous. Clara Beatriz Ledesma Medina , a Forestry Engineering student, became the “fairy godmother” of SER, with contagious enthusiasm and organizational skills. The chosen site was the Francisco de Aguirre library, near the Gómez house.

50 Years After The First Progressive Music Recital: Rock Thundered in Santiago

For this initial kick, it was agreed that all the bands and musicians would share whatever little or much equipment they had and that the festival would not have a competitive character, but rather a collaborative one.

Geréz explained: “Then it was about the little we had, we put it all together and rehearsed for more or less a month or month and a half, to see how it came out, and in the end we left blind and that date of July 2, 1972 was put together. , and we gave it the name of the First Recital of Progressive Music of Santiago del Estero”.

To spread these ideas, it was decided to publish a magazine and posters that were managed to be clandestinely printed on the mimeograph of a bank, where one of the members worked and who ran the risk of being fired.

Geréz recalls that he soon began the campaign to publicize the festival, in the centers where the young people with the greatest concerns met: “That time there were characters or musicians who wandered through all the tearooms or bars and different places where musicians gathered. We are talking, for example, about Trevi, where Lino Alfano , el Negro Brun Gauna , Hugo Mansilla, which was called The Zombies, and they played music by the Beatles. Then we would get together in the confectionery that was on the mezzanine of the Lindow gallery, which was called Skorpio, where Credence (Clearwater Revival), Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin played there and music was played and there was dance. But there were people who liked that kind of music. From there, the idea of ​​putting all that music together and playing it at the recital was shaped. And we left.”


While the organization of the festival advanced at full speed, the “Belenazo” occurred, an episode starring students who gathered in Plaza Libertad to repudiate the anniversary of the coup by Juan Carlos Onganía , who had already been in power for 6 years. They also demanded the creation of a public, secular and free university; the right to choose the student centers and against the high fees charged by the Catholic University (UCSE).

This happened on June 28 and unleashed police repression with rubber batons and tear gas against some 700 students who fled to the Diego de Rojas square and then to the San Martín square, in front of Government House, Carreras said.

The students set up barricades in Jujuy between Belgrano and Juárez Celman (today Além), to stop the onslaught of police, until they desperately asked the nuns of the Belén convent -where the Faculty of Economic Sciences operated- to allow them to take refuge from the repression of mansalva The nuns opened the heavy oak doors for them and a human tide managed to get to safety, recalls the writer. An assembly was held inside, with an infiltrator who would soon be known: Juan “Sérpico” Bustamante .

The then de facto governor Carlos Jensen Viano received the desperate request of the rector of the UCSE, Francisco Cerro , to avert the student revolt and mobilized the army with mortars and heavy machine guns around the convent. Members of the SER group took a loudspeaker and spoke in favor of taking over the faculty, against Onganía and in commemoration of the recent “Cordobazo”. They spray-painted the convent’s walls with the symbol that distinguished them: the ichtus, the fish that identified Christians persecuted by the Romans in the catacombs.

But its symbol was interpreted as a threat, since the following day the newspaper El Liberal warned that “a new subversive group has appeared in Santiago: it is called SER and the security forces do not know its origin very clearly,” explains Carreras.

With the mediation of Cerro, it was agreed around 6 in the morning that there would be no repression, but all the young people who took part in the takeover would be taken to the police headquarters to be identified and released. The episode generated discomfort on the part of SER, which considered that they had not agreed on the use of the name for political actions.


The latest political events led to a decision to postpone the festival for a week on July 2, which dawned cold and rainy, after a meeting of the organizers at the Aguirre library.

Finally, the first meeting of progressive music bands – as it was called then – could be held on Sunday, July 9, with a full sun to illuminate this popular festival.

Geréz remembers it vividly: “He went out one cold morning in July and we got together. Really, the one who brought many people together was Julio Carreras, who was one of those who started this, Juancho Navarro , Graciela Bravo –we used to get together at her house-, Laly Alcorta and many more who contributed and rehearsed. He got out as he could, but he got out.”

Despite the fact that the media ignored this historical call, the festival had a massive accompaniment. At 6 in the morning they began to assemble the teams and around 10 the music started. Carreras remembers that “throughout that day, the groups paraded on stage, doing the songs they had composed and rehearsed over and over again, sacrificing hours of their nights several times a week, during those two months that had elapsed”.

The field was soon overcrowded and those who could not enter climbed the surrounding walls and roofs to follow the alternatives. The event was recorded on a Sony recorder brought from the US by sound engineer Jorge Castro , who had specialized in that country.

The journalist “ Koli Bader ” acted as presenter, and between ensemble and ensemble, he read revolutionary proclamations. Ana María Amado , a local journalist who after going through local TV had landed on Channel 13 in Buenos Aires, was in Santiago and had come especially to see the recital”, adds Julio Carreras.

“All the groups acted in a formidable way. It was a wonderful example of how, ‘when playing for the love of art’, the human being becomes tireless. The music heard that day was something that had never been enjoyed so completely in Santiago. From the Brotherhood of the Solar Flower, through Jimi Hendrix , Joan Báez , Coven, the most innovative contributions of rock music were present there. Two girls who sang very well stood out: Graciela Bravo and Elvira Díaz , who was then the girlfriend of the painter Eduardo Cortés”, says Carreras.

Geréz adds that “at that time I formed a band with Ricardo Santillán , an outstanding musician on guitar, bass and voice, who always did covers of Credence and The Beatles, who had a high-pitched, raspy voice like John Fogerty ‘s ; Enrique Gavioli , also a great lead guitarist, today a lawyer and with a beautiful career in which he recorded several albums and who lives in Córdoba; Pochi Alcorta is also a drummer who was very young at the time. We formed the band Claridad, with which we did some covers of Spinetta and Coven and also some songs in choirs with The Beatles”, he recalled.

The only one who died was Ricardo Santillán, about 10 years ago, and today he continues his work, who left his son Ariel, a great bassist and great person, as an inheritance. There were other bands formed by Laly Alcorta, Severo Galván , Natalio Perduca . Los Demonios also played, which was a band formed and with a long history in Santiago del Estero, with Johny Dellara and Rudy Quiroga , on vocals, and Víctor Acuña -lead guitar- , Rubén Galván -rhythm guitar-, Manolo Trejo-drums-“.

“Julio Carreras was a mentor in all this, who was accompanied by Clarita Ledesma Medina , Elvira Díaz, Graciela Bravo and a great who is still in force today and knows a lot about this story, Omar “Sapo” Estanciero . ( Angel ) Lito Garay, an art teacher, who wrote in Pelo magazine about this event and that story was recorded nationally and we still relive it today, we get together and sometimes we play the songs from that time. We are all in our seventies, but we remember that this was a great epic for us because we did the first Progressive Music recital in Santiago del Estero and that it is always remembered. Every year we try to get together to remember this date that will remain forever in our memory”, concludes Geréz.


After the success of that first festival, the members of SER paid the expenses required by the library and began to program the second meeting for September 1972, in Huaico Hondo. But its expansion attracted various organizations that sought to capture lucid cadres and direct the cultural movement that was birthing in the then small provincial city.

These tendencies confronted, between those who sought direct political action and those who preferred to maintain independence, broke up SER. An assembly was called in which it was proposed to give the name “Santiago del Estero Revolucionario”, but it failed due to the resistance of some members and triggered the withdrawal of some.

In addition, discord had been generated by “the disappearance of an electric guitar, the inclination towards hallucinogenic substances of some hippies and other covert actions”, according to Carreras’s recollection. But the main reason was that some members responded to the left and other majorities to other parties, who sought to lower instructions.

But a tragic event would hit the group. On January 5, 1973, Clara Beatriz Ledema Medina, the alma mater of SER, would die at the age of 19. “That and the fragmentation into different factions would end up definitively dispersing SER,” says Carreras. Many of the musicians of that glorious day would continue their careers in the so-called mass music and would become popular idols, although some of them would never renounce in their hearts the rebellious spirit of that first call to break with the dictates of a conservative society.

Sources: Interview with Carlos Ricardo “Cacho” Gerez, provided by his son, documentary filmmaker Daniel Gerez. Quipu magazine and book “History of rock in Santiago del Estero”, by Julio Carreras.

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