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PRIMERA PLANA - FRONT PAGE
The New York Mega Timba Concert - What Really Happened
Story by Bill Tilford, All Rights Reserved
(para leer en español, haga clic aqui)
Photo by Bill Tilford, all rights reserved
For better and for worse, this concert comes on the heels of a few earlier failed attempts by other promoters in other cities. But unlike those earlier fiascoes, this time a concert really did take place. It wasn't exactly the concert that was originally advertised, but it was a concert, it had more stars in the room than we have seen together in the United States before, and it was a lot better musically than I expected it to be after everything else that went wrong before the concert even started. I was able to watch a lot of this story unfold, and towards the end, I actually wandered into some of it in ways that I never planned to do. This is a story that needs to be told, and hopefully we can all learn some things from the experience. Hopefully one of those lessons will NOT be "Don't hire Timba bands", but we will all need to learn the other lessons to prevent that from happening.
1st Verse - Was this really a good idea to begin with?
It was only a year before this that the even more-sprawling Fuego Cuban Music Festival evaporated in South Florida. In Echo Park (Los Angeles), a planned May 2011 Cuban music festival was cancelled due to funding issues. (The LA Cubafest that did happen later in July 2011 featured Cuban-American bands, and attendance failed to meet expectations.)
In the meantime, some other tours by single bands from the island like Los Van Van encountered various problems that shortened or in some cases cancelled all or parts of their tours. The result of all of these earlier problems was a new and understandable level of skepticism on the part of ticket buyers and venue owners. For many of these people, the New York concert sounded too good to be true even before any of the real problems actually started. Based on what I was hearing from Timba fans during the months before the New York concert, I'm really not sure whether ticket sales would have met expectations even if the promotion had been much better than it was.
Nevertheless, the announcement was made - New York would have a Mega Timba Concert at the Armory in May 2012 with an historic collection of bands from Cuba. How could my colleagues and I NOT be excited about this? Three of us made preparations to go and cover the event. I was a little concerned at the time that the ticket-purchase website said "From Havanna to New York Non-Stop Timba Concert", and the artists included Puppy & Los Que Son Son. and I mentioned to some colleagues at the time that it would be nice if they would spell the English version of Havana correctly, even better would be to get Pupy's name right. This didn't inspire a lot of confidence in the people administering the concert. Still, we were hopeful.
When you add the usual and customary visa issues and consider the fact that individual bands all have their own agendas, it was probably too ambitious to try to bring this many full bands together in one place at the same time. I think it would have been better if the promoters had planned and promoted a unified All Stars concert from Day One. This was what was finally delivered, it was an excellent musical product, and most of the bad will generated by the project could have been avoided if it had been advertised this way. Even more important, it is this reporter's opinion that the next few Timba concerts in the US should probably keep it simple: one band - maybe two - from Cuba, if more music is needed, pair it with some suitable US talent. It will be a while before there is enough confidence to try to repeat a concert like this one.
Chorus: In my opinion, the organizers tried to accomplish too much with too many bands. It is difficult enough to do a successful event with multiple bands using purely US talent. Once you go international, it becomes even harder. This isn't just a Cuba thing - even European musicians have visa problems, and there are reasons why multiple groups from there don't do US tours together. A much simpler concert could still have been a great success if advertised properly.
Coming Next : 2nd Verse - The Road To The Concert
NEW SINGLE BY MAYKEL BLANCO Y SALSA MAYOR
Tour Starts Saturday!
In preparation for the European Summer Tour 2012, Maykel Blanco has released a teaser from the upcoming CD. A 2:54 clip has been uploaded to YouTube and it includes the list of concert dates. The song is a guaguancó called "Bembe" with Yordis on lead vocals. Candela! If you didn't keep up with the dates in the video, we have posted them on the Maykel Blanco y Salsa Mayor Tours page .
The new CD should be out in the fall. The band still has to finish recording the horns on some of the songs before it can be mixed and mastered. I the meantime, enjoy the clip and I hope to see you at one of the concerts!
And a little Behind-the-scenes video from the recording studio...
First Pics of the NYC Timba Mega Concert
THE COPACABANA, NEW YORK, NY 16 JUNE 2012
Here are some preliminary images of the New York Mega Timba Concert. It wasn't the event that the promoters originally advertised, but it was still an excellent concert chock full of Cuba's best Timba stars. Check out the full gallery here. Articles and photos by Bill Tilford -- All Rights Reserved / Derechos Reservados. Stay tuned for Bill's full report on his blog "Sin Clave No Hay Ná".
César Pupy Pedroso and Pedrito Calvo take the stage
Hanging out backstage with Manolito Simonet and friends
Pupy and Pedrito playing some classic Van Van tunes
Bamboleo's new front line-up (singers) - Aliyn on the far right
La Aplanandora de Cuba in Europe
Orquesta Revé is Back!
Only about six weeks since they left, Elito Revé y Su Charangón are back in Europe for a 40 day tour kicking off the summer tour season here in Europe. Check their tours page for the concert nearest you! There is some nice video making the rounds at Facebook of Andy Fornet on timbales and Renesto the new Revé tresero. But I can't embed that here. And a series of ridiculous technical problems have conspired to prevent me from downloading the video and interviews I filmed during the Viking Line cruises. Hopefully that will be resolved shortly and I will be able to give you something a little more recent. But for now I'll leave you with a classic video of my own from the 3rd National Changüí Festival in Guantanamo, Cuba, 22 December 2007.