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Interviews & Reviews - Event Review: Tiempo Libre at the Old Town School of Folk Music
Event Review: Tiempo Libre at the Old Town School of Folk Music
22 October 2011
(Photo by Bill Tilford)
Tiempo Libre came to Chicago to play, and the crowd came to dance. What, no dance floor? No problem. The band's leader, Jorge Gómez, told the audience that they were about to start a party, not play a concert, and the crowd took the hint. We saw more dancing in the aisles at this performance than we remember seeing at the OTS (or just about anywhere else, for that matter) in a long time. (No chairs or tables were harmed during this procedure.)
The concert opened with a great drum solo, built into a Latin jazz riff and then took a turn into Lo Mio Primero, the title track from their newest CD, My Secret Radio. The strong opening got the crowd fired up from the very beginning for this high-energy performance. T.L. played several selections from that CD including Mecánica and Mujer de Fuego as well as material from their earlier Grammy-nominated CDs and some audience requests. My Secret Radio deserves Grammy consideration this year, and it will be interesting to see whether that happens.
Photo by Bill Tilford. (See The Rest of The Photo Gallery From The Concert Here)
Some of the crowd requested El Cuarto de Tula, and the band obliged with a great nueva onda rendition of the song that had much of the crowd singing along. The band also covered A Bayamo en Coche and a version of Guantanamera that got most of the crowd singing along. (Although we have publicly complained in other places about the overuse of that song by far too many bands these days, we are going to give T.L. a pass here because they worked it into an uptempo, almost timbaesque version that made it reasonably original while still familiar to the audience.) Start to finish, this was a rousing performance.
Once again, Tiempo Libre proved beyond any reasonable doubt that (a) there are first-tier Timba bands based in the US now and (b) US audiences get into the music when they see and hear it live. The challenge is not getting them to embrace the music, rather it is getting them to a concert for the first time. Much of the OTS audience was not of Cuban origin, but that didn't stop them from shouting approval and dancing in the aisles.
We also wish to salute the Old Town School of Folk Music (and Mateo Mulcahy, who handles these bookings, personally) for continuing to show leadership in bringing this music to Chicago.
If you were aware of this concert and missed it, you made a mistake. Fortunately, Tiempo Libre has many excellent CDs under its belt including its most recent one. Their website address is https://www.tiempolibremusic.com/