Why He’s Interesting: After leaving his native Peru for Spain after high school, Linarez explored the world, traveling to Paris to play Latin guitar professionally and to dozens of countries as an international tour guide. In 2005, he retired — to Cleveland of all places — and has been playing his unique, melodic Latin-style fingerpicking classical guitar three times a week at Barroco Arepa Bar & Concert Cafe.
Mis Amores: Before retiring from the Hilton Hotel in Stockholm, Sweden, Linarez struck up an email correspondence with his high school sweetheart, Rosa Corcuera, who had moved to Cleveland decades earlier. Rosa convinced him to move here. “We were high school sweethearts who lost our way, and we came back together after 47 years. I think we did it OK.”
Born To Play: While Linarez was too young to remember first picking up the guitar, his father, who was also a musician, kept many instruments around the house. “I am always playing the guitar, from morning to evening. The guitar has always been with me. Music is my second soul.”
City of Lights: While living in Spain, Linarez frequently visited Paris to play music in cafes, where he found a vibrant 1960s culture eager for South American music. Eventually, he moved there and began playing professionally. “I really learned to play different styles and with different groups. Paris is the capital of the world for art, for intellectuals, for business — everything.”
Big Moment: In Paris, Linarez joined the group Los Paraguayos, a Paraguayan harp-led outfit of rotating musicians who perform South American music. The group’s pinnacle was opening for French singer-songwriter Edith Piaf at the historic Olympia Hall. “She watched us play, so after the show, I told her, ‘Madam, you are wonderful.’ When she came out, she sang a Peruvian song ‘Amor De Mis Amores,’ and she dedicated it to me. That was a very important thing in my musician’s life.”
Backing Track: Playing guitar at Barroco started as an outlet to perform and a way for additional income as a retiree. But five years later, the local restaurant chain has become home. “Every restaurant is so different. Sometimes people are close, sometimes far away. People film. People dance. They come to me and say, ‘Can you play some American music?’ So I play [music from] some film or a tango. They’re all very impressed. Then they get to be my friend, and they come the next day and the next day.”
Three and Out:
What is your most treasured item?
I bought my guitar in 1972 in Spain from Prudencio Saez Guitars, one of the most important luthiers. I paid $1,000 back then. I paid it off in six months.
How has this last year shaped the way you view the world?
My way to live is up and down now. What’s happening to me is happening to many people. And we have new conditioning now because we can’t do what we want anymore.
What was your greatest adventure?
To see Machu Picchu in Peru, to see the Taj Mahal, to see the pyramids in Egypt. To see France and Germany after World War II. You come to see it and you cry.