Salta is famous for its peñas, venues where musicians come together to play traditional folk music. Most of these have been turned into touristy nightmares with an organised sit-down dinner and staged show. We avoided these but were luckily told about one that retains its authenticity – La Casona del Molino.
The casona is a huge multi-room restaurant, where musicians gather for impromptu jam sessions. There aren’t stages, costumes or schedules – people at their tables just pick up their instruments or start to sing.
On our first night, we sat in a room full of students. After about 11pm, one cracked out his guitar and soon the whole group was singing, led by two incredible male vocalists. When we got up to explore the rest of the casona, we found the whole place alive with music – a different session in each room.
I enjoyed my first experience of folklorico in Buenos Aires, but this took it to another level. The impassioned music is moving to witness, especially when the crowd joins in. It is also common for people to stand up and tell a story over the music. We struggled to follow the words but were entertained nonetheless by the charisma of the storytellers.
Here’s a little video of some of the people we saw playing in the casona. It was taken on our second night there, when we sat in a room with three men who were regulars (their photos were on the wall and one even sold a cd). Their faces told stories themselves.
- La Casona del Molino is at Luis Burela 1. It’s a little way out of town so we got a taxi there and back (we only ever had to wait about 5 minutes for one to pass by despite its remote location).
- Both times we went, around 10pm, we got one of the last available tables. We would definitely recommend going earlier to be on the safe side.
- The menu is traditional Argentinian but has a few vegetarian options – empanadas, humitas, cheesy chips and salads.