Gabriel Ramírez passes

This remembrance of Catalan banjo player Gabriel Ramírez is a contribution from his student and friend, Lluis Gomez, now the premiere banjo player in northeastern Spain.

Noted Spanish banjoist Gabriel Ramírez, also known as Gabi or Gabe, has died following a debilitating illness. He died this past Saturday, March 9, in Barcelona, accompanied by his family. He was 71 years of age.

Gabi was one of the banjo pioneers in Barcelona back in the late ’70s, and many people followed him. A wonderful person, he was always excited to play and organize jams or festivals, and helped to start the Al Ras Festival, always supporting any activity related to acoustic music.

He personally supported my career, and I learned a great deal from him. I remember in my 20s going to his place to play with him, talk about music, or to take books from his collection, and especially learning and discovering music from his playing, originals tunes, and from other people.

Long before YouTube or other online learning tools were developed, Gabi started playing guitar, banjo, bouzouki, and other instruments related to folk music, so the first time I met him on the late ’90s, he had answers to many of my banjo questions. He had learned through trial and error, and though in his later years he was focused on accordion, he never stop playing clawhammer banjo.

He played in many projects and with many people, recorded a few CDs with his wife, Cathy, and their kids which you can find on YouTube.

Here it is one of his beautiful compositions called The Beehive, with Cathy on guitar.

Here it is another video of him playing the banjo with Cathy.

I could go on and on about Gabi for many hours, but I mostly wanted to mention him and recognize the big impact on my music life, and of many others for the way he spread banjo music in Barcelona. Thanks Gabi!

The old time and bluegrass scene in Barcelona has lost one of his most wonderful and loved musicians.

This past Sunday at the regular Barcelona Bluegrass Jam we played the tunes he liked, and the ones we learned from him.

You can visit Gabi on Facebook and YouTube for more information, and to listen to his music.

R.I.P., Gabriel Ramírez.