Rodrigo y Gabriela: Musically Exploring the Mind
Written by Eric Mitts. Photo: Rodrigo y Gabriela, courtesy of Ebru Yildiz


There’s no mistaking the near-meditative nature to the music of acclaimed Mexican guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela.

Transcendent and triumphant, the Grammy Award-winning group dove even deeper into their spiritual journey via musical expression on their latest album, In Between Thoughts…A New World, released last year.

Their sixth album in a career that goes back more than two decades, In Between Thoughts…A New World finds Rodrigo y Gabriela adding some electric guitar elements to their well-established all-acoustic sound, with other influences from the worlds of jazz and classical as well.

Described by the band as a “spontaneously composed body of work primed to bring about the very expansion of consciousness that inspired its creation,” the album came out of Rodrigo Sanchez’s recovery from COVID-19 back in 2020.

During that time, he studied the philosophy of nondualism, which questions the conventional separations in existence, and imagines a singular infinite reality of pure consciousness, from which all life is merely different expressions.

“After so many years of being a spiritual seeker, this idea completely shook me – everything changed dramatically in terms of my perception of reality,” Sanchez said in a press release.

Connecting with Revue for a short conversation last month, Gabriela Quintero echoed her bandmate’s feelings, when talking about the near universal language of instrumental music.

“Music is the language of emotions,” Quintero told Revue. “There’s so many different emotions and in our modern society we are only able to label just a bunch of those emotions. We live in a society that’s now consuming things, and it’s important to be self-aware, and (have enough) introspection to realize that there’s an ocean of different emotions. I think music is a great medium that can bring emotion to the surface of our subconscious mind. Our music tells different stories with melodies, harmonies, rhythmics, and everything and all connecting to our hearts and souls.”

Starting out busking on the streets of Dublin back in the early 2000s, Rodrigo y Gabriela have famously crossed cultures in the many years since, going on to play all over the world, from the legendary Glastonbury festival in the UK, to breakout performances on “The Tonight Show” and “Austin City Limits” here in the US, and collaborating with a 13-piece orchestra in Cuba.

“It’s a blessing to be able to interact in such a loving way,” Quintero said about playing for so many different people and countries. “We really play with our hearts. We get to see other parts of nature, ecosystems and landscapes. We also get to experience on the human level other cultures, which is a great source of inspiration. It’s a beautiful network of great energy that can only be felt. It’s what makes us united. All of that filters into our house, and allows us to keep creating music, if that makes sense.”

They played for President Obama at the White House in 2010, and more recently leaned into their heavy metal roots, contributing a cover of Metallica’s “The Struggle Within” to the 2021 charity tribute album The Metallica Blacklist, as both virtuosic performers grew up on heavy metal guitar as teenagers, before exploring flamenco fusion and many other genres.

Performing such a vigorous live show for such a grueling schedule took its toll on the duo over the last two decades, so despite the danger and isolation, the COVID-19 pandemic came as a welcome break.

“For us, we were a band that was on the road all the time for 20 years until the pandemic, Quintero said. “It was the first time we stopped. For us it was not too bad. We stayed in our studio just doing music and it was the best way for us to process everything that was happening.”

The result became In Between Thoughts…A New World, which the band has taken out into the world in hopes of sharing their sense of musical, spiritual connection with others. They’ve also recognized they’re getting older, but look to the connected nature of the world for maintaining their wellness on the road.

“We are getting younger at heart, and do take care of ourselves a lot,” Quintero said. “We’ve both been vegan for the animals and planet, we eat a plant-based diet with non-processed foods. Really nice fruits, vegetables. We both exercise and run and do yoga, not like crazy, but every day.”

Like its title suggests, In Between Thoughts…A New World is only a beginning, as Rodrigo y Gabriela already have more material ready for their latest run of shows this spring.

“We had a lot of different ideas and some were left pending, which is nice because it’s a process” Quintero said. “On the other hand, we have written a lot of new music that’s not part of In Between Thoughts, but we will share at our gig in Grand Rapids. It will be a light for us to play the new music and the old material people like. We are very excited and love our audience there.”

Rodrigo y Gabriela

GLC Live at 20 Monroe, 11 Ottawa Ave. NW, Grand Rapids

May 18, 7 p.m., $53.00+,