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FRONT PAGE - PRIMERA PLANA
La Loma del Chivo by Bicitaxi
A look at Guantanamo's famous music neighborhood
La Loma del Chivo - Guantanamo, Cuba
I continue my Guantanamo reports with something that isn't exactly music or dance, but is tangentially related to both. If you have been listening to Cuban music for a while, you have undoubtedly heard singers mention "La Loma del Chivo" (goat hill). Speaking for myself, I will tell you that this neighborhood took on legendary proportions in my mind. I imagined some rural community or peripheral neighborhood with lush, green hills where goats grazed lazily in the ever-present Guantanamo sun.
In 2007 I took my first trip to Guantanamo to attend the Third National Changüí Festival. You can imagine my consternation when I found that La Loma del Chivo has neither a hill nor any visible goats. You never know what people may be raising in their houses, however, so I won't rule goats out yet.
Upon my return to Guantanamo seven years later, I took a bicitaxi to various landmarks in the city that I wanted to film. Here is a video of part of my trip around La Loma del Chivo where you will find La casa del Son, La Casa del Changüí and La Casa de la Tumba Francesa all in the same block; where there is an outdoor stage with a life-sized statue of Elio Revé Matos and a wall with the names of famous musicians who have passed away. We even found a nice guy who could tell us the story of why what is apparently a flat, non-agricultural neighborhood bears the name "Goat Hill". I hope those of you who have never been there will enjoy a little look around, and I encourage everyone to attend the Changüí Festival this year May 29 - June 1. For information contact For information contact José Cuenca or Ernesto Chacón or even me if you want.
PMG 20/20: Timba Fusion Fortified With Its Own Wine...
Also: Some Key Concerts in the US This Week
The Pedrito Martinez Group gave an excellent performance/party at the City Winery in Chicago AND unveiled a self-named wine there on Saturday, March 15. You can read a review and see a gallery here (but you'll have to order the wine yourself in order to try it).
Two concerts and a movie premiere of special interest during the next week:
Chicago: Dos y Más is coming to the Old Town School of Folk Music on Wednesday, March 19. This is a promising collaboration between drummer/percussionist Arturo Stable and pianist Elio Villafranca. Both are graduates of the Instituto Superior del Arte in Havana, and their original musical encounter was with Jane Bunnett's Spirits of Havana project. This will be a Jazz performance that also incorporates a variety of musical influences from around the globe.
Miami: The public premiere of an hour-long PBS documentary, Miami Boheme: An American Musical Journey, will take place at The Stage in Miami on Wednesday, March 19 at 7pm. This will be followed with a live concert by Palo!, one of several groups documented in the film (some of the others include the Spam Allstars, Locos Por Juana and Sueñalo.)
New York: Havana Nagila with the Klezmatics, Arturo O'Farrill and others at The Town Hall, Sunday, March 23
¡Oy Gocemos! Havana Nagila is part of a larger Newish Jewish Music Festival that is being presented March 19th and March 23rd in association with the World Music Institute. This is hardly the first time that a collaboration exploring the confluence of Latin and Jewish music and dance has been performed; just two of several past recordings include the CDs It's A Scream The Way Levine Does The Rhumba (the liner notes of which include some material by Arturo O'Farrill) and Bagels and Bongos (which sold more than 2 million copies in 1959), and New York's Jewish community was a key participant in the Mambo Craze of the 50s. (Photo John Abbott)
What makes this project of extra interest is that the Klezmatics and Arturo O'Farrill have the distinction of being in the top rungs of their respective genres AND a lot of experience doing other successful fusion projects. Additional artists will include Lewis Kahn, who has played with several Salsa bands including the Fania All Stars, Argentine Jazz vocalist Sofia Rei, percussionist Reinaldo de Jesus and others. (Photo Chuck Fishman)
Tickets are available at www.townhall.org and www.ticketmaster.com
Interactivo in Miami and More...
Also: Some Key US Concerts This Week
Interactivo's performance in Miami was more than worth the time and expense to travel from Chicago to see it. You can see a review and a very extensive photo gallery here .
While waiting for the concert, this writer went shopping for recordings. It is worth mentioning that the Museo del Disco (1301 SW 70th Ave in Miami) is not only stocking many of the EGREM, Colibri and Bis recordings that are reviewed on this website, but it may have the most impressive selection of those in the United States now and deserves special mention for its pro-active efforts to bring that music to buyers here.
Key Concerts This Week: Kelvis Ochoa is in Miami on March 15th, and the Pedrito Martínez Group is at the City Winery in Chicago, also on March 15th.
Leonel Limonta & Azúcar Negra in Europe
Tour Begins Next Week!
In just six days Leonel Limonta & Azúcar Negra will be back in Europe for a month of serious timba y gozadera. Click here for the March dates and some of April. We will be updating again as soon as the final confirmations for April have come in. After their last release, "Bailar en Tacones", Limonta and the muchachos dulces are keeping with the sartorial theme with their latest single "Maltraando la Tela". I was fortunate enough to see Limonta in the process of creating this song, which came to life last year during the Latinoamericando Festival in Milan. Enjoy, and check back next week for April updates!