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Friday, 21 December 2012, 02:54 PM

A New Musical Hope For Chicago:

The 2nd Annual Afro-Caribbean Improvised Music Festival

Article by Bill Tilford
Photos by Bill Tilford (plus a Special Photo Gallery by Joshua Bennett)
All Rights Reserved

Pupy Cantor and the Edwin Sanchez Orchestra at the Old Town School of Folk Music    

     In the late 1990s, and for a brief period in more recent years, Chicagoans had the luxury of seeing some bands from Cuba and Puerto Rico at prices ranging from free to a minimal admission charge at various city festivals and events.   While it was wonderful to experience these performances while they were happening, as a long-term proposition, they may have conditioned audiences to expect to see this music at little or no visible cost (these performances were never truly "free" since payment came from a city budget that was experiencing escalating problems over the years).   More recently, the city has dramatically reduced its financial support for several musical events, cancelling some and dramatically reducing the scope of others.  Among other things, the Viva Chicago festival is no more, and the annual Puerto Rican festival in Humboldt Park has been shortened to adapt to budget cutbacks. The best information available to us indicates that this funding is unlikely to come flowing back in the foreseeable future, and increasing private (both for-profit and not-for-profit) sources will be needed to pick up the slack if Chicagoans hope to see this type of music live.

Henry Cole and the Afrobeat Collective at the Mayne Stage .

     Fortunately, two private venues have already stepped in to do what they can - the Mayne Stage and the Old Town School of Folk Music have been very aggressive in booking touring bands (including bands from Cuba) and have done a commendable job with the resources available to them.  The Old Town School in particular has used its outdoor festival as well as its indoor venues to help give the music a home.   More recently, a new privately-organized festival, Festival Cubano , has also emerged as a noteworthy annual event  (it is doubtful that this particular event will be in a position to book talent from outside the US, at least in the near future, but it has shown positive growth during its first three years in its ability to book a wide range of acts from within the United States).  
    One challenge confronting festivals and large concerts generally is....click here to read the full post...

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Friday, 21 December 2012, 12:20 AM

BUENA FE

En la Escalinata de La Universidad de La Habana

Buena Fe en la escalinata de Universidad de La Habana Photo courtesy of BUENA FE (PÀGINA OFICIAL)

Last night Buena Fe ended their national tour with a special concert on the steps of the University of Havana. The concert was attended by...well as you can see...by a lot of people. The national tour was in conjunction with the 90th anniversary of the University Student Federation (FEU) and consisted of concerts in 19 cities across Cuba. Last night's concert was the grand finale, and Buena Fe invited a number of special guests including a horn section, Descemer Bueno , Frank Delgado and Boni & Kelly. For more photos from last night's performance, check out Buena Fe's Facebook page , which is very active and contains all the latest information about the band including video, photos and concert dates.

During the tour they have been performing songs from their latest CD, "Dial", which will be released in 2013. Israel Rojas says that this CD represents the beginning of a new phase in Buena Fe's music. Their arrangements have always been eclectic, but "Dial" may be even more so with different styles of music as if you are turning the dial on a radio and switching channels. The song "Pablo" from the movie of the same name, "Ojeo" a song about the role that digital camera technology can play in our intimate lives and "Volar sin ti" a ballad written together with Galician singer/songwriter Andrés Suárez are some of the highlights of the new CD. I haven't heard all of the new songs yet, but if the little lyric teasers they have been uploading to their Facebook page are any indication, this CD will be another award-winning home run for the band. Buena Fe will perform 2 concerts at Karl Marx Theater in Havana for the release of the CD on February 8 and 9. If you will be in Havana at the time, this is a must-see event!

As I have previously posted the videos "Ser de sol" with Descemer Bueno and "Pablo", I will now leave you with video from the first live performance of "Volar sin ti", which took place with Andrés Suárez in Madrid in August.

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Tuesday, 18 December 2012, 09:36 PM

The Attack of The Killer Remakes:

A Dream Come True by the Cubana All Stars

It's large -- 40 musicians más o menos (it's complicated), it has two CDs, it includes many of the heavy hitters in Havana with some special invited guests, and it's coming at you!  Wait, don't run: read our review here first...

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Monday, 17 December 2012, 07:25 PM

MB & Salsa Mayor "A toda máquina"

For all the timberos on your list!

Maykel Blanco y Salsa Mayor "A Toda Máquina"Timberas y timberos...finally the new Maykel Blanco & Salsa Mayor CD, "A toda máquina", is out at iTunes and just in time for the holidays! It contains 13 songs including the hit "El songo de todos" featuring guest singers and a potpurri to close the album. This is the holiday gift for all the timberos you know, and get one for yourself while you're at it! I don't know if the hardcopy will be out in time for Christmas, but one can always start with the MP3 and get the hardcopy later.

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