Is it time yet to get excited about all the live salsa and festival gigs piling up in April?
Shakori Hills has done right by Latin music fans and set a nice double jewel in the crown for Thursday night (4/16): Jose Conde & Ola Fresca at the Meadow Stage at 9pm, topped off with Orquesta GarDel from 10:30-midnight in the Dance Tent. On Friday (4/16) Jose Conde will do a "Baby Loves Salsa" set for kids at 2:30 pm, then holds down the Dance Tent from 11:30 pm into the wee hours.
It is difficult for me to remain tight-lipped about what Orquesta GarDel has been working on in the woodshed these days. Yet keep silence, I must! At least for awhile longer...
GarDel pianist, composer and co-leader Eric Hirsh is so up and coming, I'm going to have to start referring to him soon as a "phenom." Next week, Eric will take part in the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead residency at the Kennedy Center. Congratulations, Eric! You make us proud. Somehow, we will be able to hear his concerts on the internet, so stay tuned.
GarDel also has an unconfirmed appearance slated for next month's Copa Night at George's Garage. The way to find out about these things is not through George's, but via the Cobo Brothers Dance Company, who have a new website, www.ncsalsa.com; both of their sites were 404 on me a little while ago, will check back later. The Cobos announced it at their monthly party this past Saturday, but Eric says the date (April 11) is still tentative pending final confirmation of GarDel's availability. Ojalá.
More good clubbing news...DJ Salsa Mike brings live music to his Carmen's Tropical Night party again on Friday, April 24. The band? The Latin Project, co-led by local trumpeter Alberto Carrasquillo. Alberto is a conservatory-trained musician whose resumé in local bands includes GarDel and Carnavalito, but in Puerto Rico he played first trumpet with the brass impresario Rubby Haddock, among other first-call salsa bands.
If you're wondering why you haven't seen The Latin Project since last year's Earth Day at Durham Parks & Rec, it's because Charlotte has discovered them and has been hogging their favors. Come on Triangle, support your own Latin music scene! Big Kudos to Salsa Mike for booking them, and for bringing live music to his fiestas.
Speaking of Earth Day, Carnavalito plays at Durham's downtown celebration at the CCB Plaza on Saturday, April 25. The varied lineup includes Wigg Report. A week before, on Saturday, April 18, Carnavalito plays Raleigh's Earth Day festival too, at the North Carolina Museum of Art. Percussionist Beverly Botsford and The Old Ceremony will also hold court.
Completing the festival roundup, MerleFest is going to rouse me to make the trip west to Wilkesboro this year to see Linda Ronstadt and Los Camperos Nati Cano on Sunday, April 26. Cano's Smithsonian Folkways-signed mariachi band backs Ronstadt, whose heritage is Mexican-American, on this tour called "Songs of my Father / Canciones de mi Padre.",