Saturday, January 31, 2009

Night of the Living DJs TONIGHT

Dance Gumbo Productions presents their 9th multi-genre dance-stravaganza, the Night of the Living DJs this Saturday (1/31) in RTP:

Location: Triangle Dance Studio (2603 S. Miami Blvd.)
Time: 7:30 pm - 1:00 am
Price: $10 ($7 after 10:00pm)

Featuring: 3 dance floors, many DJs, teaching units and demos.

Styles: salsa, mambo, swing, two-step, blues, zydeco, waltz, belly dance, Chicago-style stepping, AND MORE. (With Jack Wolf hosting the shenanigans, there will always be MORE DANCING.)

Truly a toast to the diverse dance community of the Triangle. If you want the whole sampler plate, $10 includes the whole shebang of lessons and demos beginning at 7:30 pm. If your interest is targeted to one of the late dances (i.e. salsa or swing), pay a discounted $7 after 10 pm.

Here is the FULL SCHEDULE of events as posted in the Latin-dance Yahoo Group:

Downstairs Studio

7:30 Ballroom Tango Lesson- Yuri
8:30 Ballroom Dance- Paul Whetstone DJ
9:45 Mostly Waltz Dance with Chris Imershein
10:50 Dance Demos- Steppin', Blues, Belly Dance, Salsa, Zydeco,
11:10 Salsa Dance
1 AM Finish

Upstairs Studio

7:30 Dance Lesson- Night Club Two Step with David Wormald & Karen Braden
8:30 Dance Gumbo Dance- Swing, Latin, Waltz, Zydeco- DJ Jack Wolf
11 AM Lindy and Blues Dance
1 AM Finish

Back Studio

8:30 Dance Lesson- Salsa/Mambo with James Cobo and Isabel Freiberg
9:30 Dance Demos- James & Isabel, Yuri & Oxana, Albert & Antoinette
9:45 Dance Lesson- West Coast Lesson- Antoinette and Albert Tailleur
10:45 West Coast Swing Dance w/ some Night Club 2 Step, Hustle- DJ Laura Rose
12 MN- Back Studio Closes, Dances in the Front Studios to 1 AM

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Jillian Armsbury (1962-2009): Pioneer of Charanga R&B

It's with sadness that I join the coro of voices grieving the passing of Jillian, vibrant, soulful singer of Los Jovenes del Barrio who brought R&B attitude to charanga.

It was a super savory mix. At the time, Jillian was married to LJB founder and timbalero Johnny Almendra. The two collaborated on crossover hits that have proved durable, and were a high point of late '90s productions on the RMM label. Their 1996 debut Evolucionando yielded "Telephone" and "Stop Slow Down," which the group performed live (introduced by Lou Rawls) on the BET network.

The following year, she sang in Spanish on the LJB single "Hechicera." She reportedly recorded a demo for a solo funk project which has never been released. Besides three studio releases and a live album with Los Jovenes del Barrio, her discography includes "Every Day I Have the Blues" with the RMM Tropijazz All Stars, and Cole Porter's "From This Moment On," which she sang as guest vocalist on Giovanni Hidalgo's Time Shifter.

Johnny Almendra, an alumnus of Orchestra Dicupe, Conjunto Melao, Fajardo, Johnny Colón, Willie Colón, Orquesta Broadway, Charanga 76 and Mongo Santamaria among others, taught at the Boys Harbor School Conservatory in El Barrio, where the idea for Los Jovenes came to life. The group included students and friends, such as flutist Karen Joseph, now with Eddie Palmieri's La Perfecta, violinists Regina Carter and Ali Bello, bassist Victor Venegas, Cuban producer and trombonist Juan Pablo Torres, pianist Kimson Plaut, conguero John Berdeguer and corista Marco Bermudez, now a lead voice with Spanish Harlem Orchestra.

According to friends, Jillian came from the Northwest and met Almendra while working as a waitress at Seattle's Jazz Alley. According to the webpage of New York production and management company Fretless Productions/Management LLC, in recent years she did commercial vocal work in English and Spanish for clients such as eBay, the Connecticut Lottery and HBO. Judging by the vibe among Latin musicians who knew her, she was much loved and admired. In videos it's easy to see she was a funloving, free spirit and a natural performer.

I think this clip of "Telephone" is from a PBS documentary on Latin New York. I like these dancers too, light and elegant, the essence of charanga. Everybody loves that line Jillian speaks, in round urban sass, "se acabó, baby."

It merits mention that this song is told from an empowering and humorous woman's point of view, making reference to social technology and slang...just another way she effectively spoke to the modern cultural moment, while melding with this very traditional, tipica-based rhythm language.

Though the window of influence was a slender one, her impact on that timeless, yet strangely malleable genre of charanga is unique and indelible. I wanted to introduce her to Latin music fans who may not know her work. It deserves to be remembered.

Jillian lost her own battle with cancer, but in life she raised money for breast cancer prevention and was an activist for various causes. She is survived by husband Leon Pendarvis, keyboardist and musical director of the Saturday Night Live Band, whom she married in 2003. The family requests that any donations be made in her name (Jillian M. Armsbury-Pendarvis) to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation.

With condolences to those who loved her best. If anyone would like me to correct or add anything to this appreciation, please leave a comment, or email me by clicking on my Blogger profile link.

Here are some links to more information about Jillian, Los Jovenes del Barrio and charanga generally:

--Salsaholic Klaus Reiter's Los Jovenes del Barrio page
--George Rivera's 2001 interview with Jillian and Johnny Alendra
--John Child's comprehensive article on Charanga on
--Recent news story mentioning Jillian (2/26/09)
--Herencia Latina tribute by Eric E. González (Spanish)
--...and Eric González' 2000 interview with Jillian (English)

Updated 5/10: In Jillian's own words, I found this account of a children's choir she led at the 2000 Shadow Convention in Philadelphia. It offers touching insights as well into the circumstances of her own childhood and her early determination to be a musician.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Bachata Blowout at Lincoln Theatre 2/22

Girlz Talk open for Latin Billboard award winner and "urban bachata" star Toby Love at this all ages show in Raleigh on Sunday, 2/22.

For more info, see this concert's myspace page.


See recent Onda Carolina posts with my concert videos and photos

Read my concert review on Indy online music blog SCAN

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Arturo Sandoval TONIGHT in Roanoke, VA

Arturo Sandoval brings a band to the Jefferson Center in Roanoke, Virginia, this Saturday night (1/24). The Jefferson Center is a multi-use arts facility uniquely renovated out of an old school (if my memory serves). Every year in January they add some caliente to the concert series with a top Latin music artist, followed by the annual Latin Dance Party.

Past headliners have included Eddie Palmieri, Spanish Harlem Orchestra and Pucho & His Latin Soul Brothers. I have not been able to find out yet who will be playing in Sandoval's group, but will update here after the show.

The Latin Dance Party (for a separate admission) directly follows Sandoval in a dancehall space in the same facility. D.C.-band Sin Miedo will entertain. Who knows, maybe some of the Miami Cubans will sit in...

SEE photo and video UPDATE HERE.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Salsa Inaugural Ball TONIGHT

Orquesta GarDel plays FREE tonight as part of Carrboro festivities in honor of Barack Obama's inauguration.

Sunday (1/18), 8:30-9:45 pm
Century Center, Carrboro

UPDATE added 1/26:

Just like being there...
only darker. Underexposed footage of The Beast at a related inaugural ball at Carrboro's The Station. The visual is a bit of a throwaway, but the audio of their salsa-inspired tune "Translation" is pretty decent. For those who don't know, The Beast is Pierce Freelon's live hiphop group featuring the gardelicious talents of Pete Kimosh (bass) and Eric Hirsh (keyboards) plus Stephen Coffman on drums. Tim Smith sits in on saxophone.

Prior to this, GarDel's set at the Century Center for an audience of dancers, hippies and hula hoopers was energetic and relaxed. Just what everyone needed in the New Year and the new administration. This is such a great venue for live music and dancing, it's a pity we don't get to hear salsa there more often.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cubanismo Night @ Mosaic Thurs (1/15)

Mosaic is making its Cuban nights a regular thing...Tambor Vivo live drumming @ 10:30 and 11:30 pm, dance sets in between. As always, its free. See calendar for details.

Nasher Opens Mexico City Art Show (Thurs 1/15)

New video from the Nasher, added 3/10:

From the Nasher Museum at Duke University:
"Celebrate the opening of a new exhibition, "Escultura Social: Una Nueva Generación de Arte de la Ciudad de Méjico." Artistas de arte contemporáneo de la ciudad de Méjico, incluyendo a Dr. Lakra, famoso por sus tatuajes, y Los Super Elegantes. At the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, on Thursday (January 15). Artist María Alós will present a work of performance art, "Welcome/Farewell," with students from 5 - 7 p.m.

At 7 p.m. meet artists Maria Alós, Abraham Cruzvillegas and Pedro Lasch. Open to the public."

Friday, January 9, 2009

Gallery Opening Today for Cornelio Campos

Artwork by Cornelio Campos opens Friday (1/9) at the Carrboro ArtsCenter with a gallery reception today from 6-9 p.m..

Campos' epic canvasses with folk themes offer a mythologizing look at U.S. immigration politics. Originally from Cheran, Michoacan, Campos also led a folkloric dance troupe before focussing primarily on his painting. The show runs through the end of January.


If you're going to the Carrboro ArtsCenter anyway, why not check out DaShawn Hickman's new band, Steel Moven. (Hickman is the great pedal steel player from the Mt. Airy Church of God gospel trio The Allen Boys.)

Music starts tonight at 8:30 pm; Hooverville opens. $15, more info at

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Ghost of Montas Past

More news on the 2009 party front: Sunday Salsa Socials will return to Rumba 54--the old Montas Lounge, remodelled and under new management.

Starts this Sunday (1/11), $5 salsa lesson at 6-7 pm. Free dance social from 7-10:30 pm.

See calendar for details.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

NEW Carmen's Party for Old School Salseros

A new monthly salsa party opens this weekend at Carmen's. Promoter Caribbean Twilight's Tropical Origins party gets off the ground this Saturday (1/10) at 10 pm. At $10 per person, and offering free admission to women before 10:30 pm, the party aims to give second-Saturday favorite Copa Night at George Garage's a run for its money.

Ricardo "TNT" Diquez (former vocalist with Samecumba and DJ at the old Havana Grill in Chapel Hill) will mix this old school salsa party based on his cultural experiences growing up in Venezuela and Puerto Rico.

"Back in Venezuela we would play two salsas, one merengue, two salsas, one bachata, two salsas, one vallenata. But heavy on the salsa," Ricardo says.

Members of his current band, Tropic Orchestra, may assemble informally Saturday for a live descarga, something Ricardo hopes will become a regular feature of the Tropical Origins party.

"I want it to be a place where dancers and musicians will hang out and jam," says Ricardo.