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Wednesday, 22 February 2012, 04:11 AM

Yoel Cuesta Joins Los Van Van

Fills Manolo's role as Van Van's Conguero

Yoel Cuesta - new conguero Los Van Van Yoel Cuesta Fernández is the new conguero of Los Van Van upon the passing of Manolo. Timba fans know him from his work with Azúcar Negra and Adalberto Álvarez y su Son. In addition to being a stellar conguero, Manolo was a wonderful human being who contributed to the group with his kindness and his love. Yoel, in addition to being an excellent conguero, is also a genuinely nice person and thus a fitting choice to fill the huge space left by Manolo's death. We wish him the best as he steps into the shoes of one of Cuba's legendary percussionists.

We will soon see Yoelito with El Tren as Los Van Van begin their European Tour on March 1st. This will be the first European tour for Los Van Van since the departure of Mayito Rivera and the entrance of Mandy Cantero, and now the first international presentations with Yoelito on congas. Click here for the list of Van Van concert dates.

Below you can check out video of Los Van Van with Mandy singing Este amor que se muere - qué riiico!

Los Van Van with Mandy Cantero singing Este amor que se muere

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Tuesday, 21 February 2012, 03:43 AM

Timbalive Percussion Solos!

Coky García, Carlos Caro, Leo García (photo by Kevin Moore)

After backing up Manolín on Saturday, Timbalive closed out the massive and extraordinary SF Salsa Rueda Festival with two burning sets, highlighted by these percussion solos from Los García: Leo, the leader of the band, Coky, his older brother, who played with the original NG La Banda, back when they were called Nueva Generación, as well as Emiliano Salvador, Opus 13, Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Mamborama, their cousin Miguelito, who just arrived, having been a founding member of Havana d'Primera, and guest artist Carlos Caro, the subject of the soon to be released Beyond Salsa Bongó, a former member of Opus 13 and Paulito FG. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, 21 February 2012, 02:47 AM

Rest in Peace, Manolo

This is a really shocking and tragic development, which we delayed posting in the hope that it was only a rumor, but Manuel "Manolo" Labarrera, conguero of Los Van Van since 1980, has passed. He looked very young and very healthy when Tom took this video of him at Yoshi's SF last year.

Manolo "de la sonrisa amplia" (of the big grin) took over as Van Van's conguero for Joel Drigs, who played on only one album after the departure of founding conguero Raúl "El Yulo" Cárdenas, who, many years later, while a member of NG La Banda, himself died in a tragic car crash. By all accounts, Manolo was every bit as wonderful a person as a conguero and in the latter department he was legendary, playing a central role in the hellacious groove that resulted in Van Van's apodo, "el tren del Caribe" (the train). Manolo is survived by his son Rafael, who sang with Bamboleo and penned such classics at La tremenda and El protagonista. Rafael was residing in Perú when last we heard. R.I.P. Manolo - it will never be quite the same without you.

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Tuesday, 21 February 2012, 01:53 AM

Peter Maiden's SF Salsa Rueda Fest Photos

Click here for Peter Maiden's photos from Saturday, featuring various dance clinics, and Manolín, el Médico de la Salsa, backed by Timbalive.

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