Metal Rhythms & Spanish Beats

December 1, 2010 |
Domingo DeGrazia

Domingo DeGrazia

Domingo DeGrazia is buttoned down at this lunch interview, but the visual belies a multifaceted character that cannot be defined by shirt-and-tie attire.

Attorney by day, Spanish guitarist by night, DeGrazia is a man with passions of robust depth and breadth which translate to his performances. Live shows are utterly captivating – gorgeous notes by his band of adept musicians fly deftly about. DeGrazia’s style culls from many eclectic genres, Spanish and Latin are obvious, but he says a lot of his rhythmic styles come from “straight metal.”

As a teenager, “the first songs we tried to play as a band were off the (1991 Sepultura) Arise album,” DeGrazia said. “It is crazy how much in common flamenco and metal really do kind of have…common movements from chord to chord and common rhythmic structures, if you can isolate the bare parts.

“There have been a couple of (flamenco) guys that did some of that. Rodrigo y Gabriela did some Metallica covers and played with Alex Skolnick from Testament and it comes off pretty well. You wouldn’t be able to tell much difference in the soloing if they played metal on nylon flamenco guitars because it’s all the same kind of key structure.”

As country and punk are not mutually exclusive, nor is Pink Floyd and bluegrass (see Pickin’ on Pink Floyd: Bluegrass Tribute), Domingo was a teenager into metal while also being attracted to world beats. Raised in Tucson, DeGrazia was influenced by the town’s Hispanic music, Native American bands and from attending tribal celebrations.

“I was inclined to listen to it and like it but I couldn’t play guitar well enough to actually make those ideas come to life. So, it wasn’t until late teens into early-mid twenties that I actually developed tools to be able to play and get the ideas out. And even now, there are still more ideas, but I’m technically limited, I can’t get all the sparkles of imagination out. But it’s coming. It’s easier now.”

I’m guessing he is comparing himself to classically trained, Spanish guitar professionals because he is a damn fine guitarist. Self-taught, Domingo said he had three lessons with a brilliant musician, but wasn’t interested in being “a technician that was proper and stuffy. Rather than being a master technician, I’d rather be somewhat of a hack that can play a decent song.”

Play decent songs he does. The man was a runner-up in 2010’s Tucson Weekly Tucson Area Music Awards (TAMMIES) best guitarist category.

“That was something I did not expect. I didn’t know that anyone was listening.”

Here’s hoping the Grammy commission has its ears perked: two of DeGrazia’s albums are in the initial consideration round in four categories.

Since 2003, Domingo has released four full lengths and a DVD; one solo album, two of the disks and the DVD include his full band with The Bluest Sky mainly featuring Domingo’s guitar and Beth Daunis’ violin.

Currently, Domingo is working on another Spanish guitar album (Nuanced) as well as a Christmas album – which will have traditional and standards, and if, he says, “I can make it work, some new stuff.”

I’ll bet he can make it work. In his 36 years, the man has packed a punch. Before he was 20, Domingo had both his pilot and helicopter licenses. It makes sense that he subsequently earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Now a juvenile defense/family law practitioner, DeGrazia says that his life has been “a cool kind of meandering journey. I got lucky a lot; I was in the right place at the right time, had some good opportunities and worked really hard.”

What drives this insatiable student of life?

“When I was young several people in my immediate family died including a brother and my Dad. I have a strong sense that life is fleeting and I’m trying to pack in as much as I can before time or old age make me useless. I know it’s not the safest way to live, but I’ve got some cool stories.”

Check out music samples, and more info on upcoming performances, at

Category: MUSIC