Monday, August 31, 2009

Fiesta del Pueblo, Day 2

Too much Fiesta for just one blog post. Here is some coverage from Sunday.

5 great iPhotos

click on photos to see larger
fiesta day 2

fiesta day 2


The Piedmont-based Occoneechee Council of Boy Scouts of America has made it a priority to recruit more Latinos into scouting. To that end, "Scoutreach" coordinators Steve Wilson (pictured, above right), Ricardo Perez and Frank Castillo were on hand at La Fiesta to answer questions from parents and potential scouts. If you would like to volunteer, or would like to have a presentation on scouting at your next group/organization event, contact Ricardo Perez at or 919-990-2991, Steve Wilson at or 919-606-0871, or Frank Castillo at or 919-621-3434.

Watermelon Man

costa rica booth

As usual, La Fiesta was full of good things to eat and drink (empanadas, pupusas, tacos, and catering by places like Mami Nora's and Carmen's), and the Jim Graham Building took on a bazaar-like atmosphere full of vendors, cultural and outreach booths, artist galleries, youth activities and the Cafe Teatro stage. This is the second year for this new inside/outside space configuration, and I think it works well, offering shelter from the elements and less sprawl. There was a decent crowd watching soccer in the Dorton Arena, which is an interesting architectural space (for some reason, I'd never been inside it before beyond the lobby).

At the outside Main Stage, Sarengue got good reviews although few people were dancing in the early afternoon heat. Sarengue is from Fayetteville; some of their members are retired military. As the name suggests, their sound balances Puerto Rican and Dominican influences. Here's a video of them doing a Roberto Roena classic, "Mi Desengaño":

I spoke with guiro player Abel (handily, they all had their names embroidered on their band shirts) and he said he's rehearsing his own Dominican bachata band. Soon they are getting ready to play out under the name Bachata 01.

Sarengue & friends, please stay in touch!

Honduran headliners Kazzabe had a tropical mix of soca, reggae, punta, salsa...stage show enhanced by dancer "La Gata." Even some El Pueblo volunteers got on stage to demonstrate their punta moves, an example of the Caribbean's rich dance culture.

Here's Kazzabe performing, as "La Gata" demonstrates the value of a properly chosen white accessory:

For me, the best part of La Fiesta is seeing familiar folks and meeting new ones who are working toward common goals of cultural understanding here in the Triangle. I see many of the same volunteers working hard behind the scenes year after year. I couldn't document all the bands, dancers, artists and participants, but it was a rich field full of old friends and new discoveries.

For more information on El Pueblo's year round advocacy programs, visit their website,

Friday, August 28, 2009

FIESTA Preview & Updates...

It's here, La Fiesta del Pueblo, the largest 2-day Latino festival in the Carolinas. It will take place this Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 29-30, at the NC State Fairgrounds in Raleigh in the same indoor/outdoor exhibition spaces used last year, in and around the Jim Graham Building. Admission is $5, and admission to the soccer tournament in the Dorton Arena will be an additional $2.

Full Stage Schedule for La Fiesta del Pueblo HERE

Headliners include "hurricane" salseros Orquesta GarDel, Peruvian rocker Santino and punta/soca band Kazzabe. I'm working on my preview of the musical highlights, so check back later today!

UPDATE added Friday night:

Buzz: I just got word from an alert tipster that Santino will be backed by Raleigh rockers Wrecking Season. (Thanks, Melinda!) I just checked out their myspace, and that's some sweet rockin' goodness! I can totally hear Santino with this, returning to his hard rocking roots with Peruvian hair band Fragil.

SANTINO performs Saturday 7pm and Sunday 4:30 pm

UPDATE added Sunday am:

Saturday headliners Orquesta GarDel really upped the ante, adding twists to their old arrangements and throwing a bolero into their set for vocalist Nelson Delgado. Pianist/keyboardist Eric Hirsh played around with new synth tones, adding celeste for example to "Boranda" (evoking memories of Charlie Palmieri's Alegre sessions). Some new, killer horn lines with bari sax jumped out at me on charts I've heard repeatedly. That was a real delight. Always giving us something new to listen to. The funk of "Eric's Timba" (still untitled) resounded with the old school dancers; it was great to see el pueblo dancing, mingling and having a good time.

la fiesta del pueblo

tropa de tierra caliente

La Tropa de Tierra Caliente--of Durham--have steadily improved their game as well since I saw them at last year's La Ley fest. This techno banda from the "hot regions" of Guerrero and Michoacan runs on valve trombones, synth tuba and aftershave. A male vocal trio harmonizes and bounces in a massive front line with the live brass, sandwiched by sythmeisters and backed by a lonely drumset on the back bandstand. Witness the energy:

With a quieter kind of attention, rapt crowds at the Cafe Teatro devoured the Colombian harp mastery of Pávelid Castañeda Sr., a real find at La Fiesta this year. (Brava to Fiesta programmer Margarita Correa-McAvoy who always manages to add new talent to the roster.)

A transplant to this area from Long Island with his own folk group Los Llaneros, Pávelid currently plays three days a week for afternoon tea at the Umstead in Cary. Pávelid is a long-time music educator and, if I'm not mistaken, the father of another amazing harpist who is making waves in the Latin jazz world: Edmar Castañeda. I heard Edmar play an unforgettable rendition of "Obsesion" with Cándido Camero and a Cuban ensemble led by Sonny Bravo at the NYC Blue Note in 2007. The manzana doesn't fall far from the tree! Pávelid did a one-man arrangement of Tito Puente's "Oye Como Va" (yes, the one made famous by Santana) that filled the senses. Colombian harp is a rare specialty in these parts, here's hoping we will hear him playing out in the Triangle more often.

la fiesta del pueblo

Until I can get the full name of this 16-year-old musician in the Andean folk group Amerikantu, I'm going to dub him The Charango Kid. [His name is Jacob Cortez.] Big talent. His father Cesar Cortez plays guitar (far left) and the group is led by artist and musician David Sovero (center):

Sunday picks: 12:45 Mariachi Los Galleros, 1:30 Grupo Sarengue, 3:15 Bravo Norteño, 4:15 Kazzabe, 4:30 Santino.

Full Stage Schedule for La Fiesta del Pueblo HERE

Triangle, we got sabor!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Durham Latino Festival

durham latino festival

tropical sundown 2

Hurricane Bill brought us a tropical sundown between raindrops at the Durham Latino Festival. I missed Latin Project, but heard good things from people in the know.

Here's Alberto Carrasquillo doing an extended trumpet solo early in Carnavalito's set. Serena Wiley gets in a few good licks on saxophone.

Some fun dancer footage during their opener--catch that dip at the end:

And here's a percussion descarga with guest Lucas Torres of The Latin Project:

It was nice to hear the crowd, which had taken shelter from the rain under tents, nonetheless show their appreciation with hefty applause. It was also nice to see friends old and new. Here's one of my newest: Felix Jr. and Kelly Padilla's salsera-in-training!

tough girl

Old-timers know the Padilla family for their involvement in Salsa Carolina, promoters of the Triangle's first salsa parties dating back to the early 1990s.

I've heard nothing but positive feedback from folks about the Durham Latino Festival this year. Credit goes to organizer Rosalie Bocelli-Hernandez and the hardworking people at Durham Parks and Recreation.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

NPR Review: Mazeltov Mis Amigos

A rare delight to hear this story on NPR as I was washing dishes this morning:

NPR Weekend Edition Saturday (8/22): Jewish Classics Live Again, Set to Latin Beats

Jon Kalish interviews Arturo O'Farrill, Mark Weinstein, Irving Fields and Larry Harlow on the Jewish New York Latin scene. Beautiful. When they talked about Barry Rogers, and played a bit of his glorious trombone playing with La Perfecta, my eyes teared up and my cintura moved on its own. What a high.

The facts: Mazeltov Mis Amigos is a recently reissued '60s album which a lot of Latin and jazz greats recorded under the fake name "Juan Calle & His Latin Lantzmen" (but who was the real bandleader??)*. The music will be recreated in a Lincoln Center Concert. (But when?? Sunday, 8/23, 8:00 p.m.) I assume the concert is Arturo O'Farrill's baby. How great that he got Irving Fields, a Jewish Latin pioneer, to play piano! And who knew that Fields still plays 6 nights a week in New York City! (But where?? Nino's Tuscany, 117 W. 58th St, between 6th & 7th Avenues.)

A hair short on information for the actual enthusiast, NPR. But still, kudos on painting a well-rounded picture of the Jewish Latin scene.

*From Riverside Records via "Neither Juan nor his Latin Lantzmen were actually Lantzmen, and only some were actually Latin. Juan was John Cali, an Italian-American banjo picker and radio veteran best known for his work with the Vincent Lopez Orchestra and a string of solo banjo outings. His Latin Lantzmen included some of the biggest names in 50s and 60s Latin music conguero Ray Barretto, timbales guru Willie Rodriguez, pianist Charlie Palmieri playing alongside African-American jazz greats Clark Terry, Doc Cheatham, Lou Oles, and Wendell Marshall. The sole Lantzmen was Yiddish vocalist Ed Powell."

Also recommended:

Larry Harlow's interview with David Carp on

Friday, August 21, 2009

Salsa Summer Splash

Mambo Dinamico, Betto Herrera's professional dance company, this weekend hosts Salsa Summer Splash, a 3-day conference of workshops with visiting instructors, parties and performances in styles ranging from rumba to cha cha cha.

The party starts tonight, Friday (8/21) with a wing ding at Carmen's, and wraps Sunday with an afternoon social dance at Lake Crabtree. In between, workshops with visiting instructors will take place at Carmen's on Saturday (8/22). The door price is $20 per workshop, or $50 for all four. An all-weekend pass to all workshops and parties is available for $60.

Saturday (8/22) Workshop Schedule:

1-2 pm - Rumba Afro-Cubana
w / Alejandro de Armas

2-3 pm - Bachata Dominicana
w/ Juan "Tato" Paredes

3-4 pm - Combo Class
w/ Cristina Zavala & Rodrigo Cortazar

4-5 pm - Chacha Footwork
w/ Alejandro, Tato, Cristina, Rodrigo, Laura, Denisse and Betto

More info:
North Carolina Salsa Summer Splash website

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Latin Beat: August Edition

As Onda Carolina celebrates its first anniversary, this month is turning out to be one of the busiest on record for Latin music in the Triangle. I have a lot of catching up to do, so here's a digest of recent news and upcoming events.

First order of business: It's the third Thursday (8/20) of the month, and Tambor Vivo is headlining again at Mosaic's free, no-cover Cuban night. Mosaic's adventurous programming creates a win/win proposition for our music and dance community. Just show up, no classes, no covers, no pretense. Just the call of live drums. This party scene is burgeoning and a little different every time. Truly cultural, yet open-ended, you can dance how you want to, from straight-up rumba to whatever shakes your bootay.

Thursday appetizer: Did you know that a free bomba dance class is held every Thursday at Havana Grill in Cary? Time: 6:30 pm - 8ish, depending on attendance. Instructor Miriam Rivas is a Puerto Rican native and a researcher at Duke. Ladies, wear a wide skirt if you have one, and sneakers or shoes appropriate for dancing on concrete. Havana Grill serves Cuban food with nightly specials.

Next on the agenda: This Saturday (8/22) is Durham's Latino Festival, 3:00 - 8:00 pm at Rock Quarry Park. This free festival will highlight local Mexican regional music by Leno y sus Compas, and two of our best salsa bands: The Latin Project and Carnavalito. For the full schedule, see poster below or visit the Durham Latino Festival website.

August has been a packed month for festivals, from Ritmo Latino, to La Ley's 6th anniversary last weekend, which I unfortunately had to miss because I was out of town. It looked to be a humdinger, with return appearances by Domenic M (the bachata singer and his supertight band played the festival 3 years ago) and Grupo Control (spandex cowboys whose sexy show kicked off this blog a year ago).

Further jamming the festival calendar, this August will wrap up with La Fiesta del Pueblo on August 29-30 (which traditionally has taken place in early September). Currently they are looking for volunteers; if you would like to volunteer, fill out this online form. Their stage schedule isn't out yet, but check back soon for more details. (Let me get through one festival at a time...)

Finally I want to congratulate all the members of the NCCU Jazz Ensemble and director Ira Wiggins on a triumphant set of performances at the Newport Jazz Festival. From what I understand, this was a project several years in the making, and NCCU artist-in-residence Branford Marsalis was instrumental in creating the showcase. The ensemble is really getting out and about these days; they will play the Detroit Jazz Festival this Labor Day weekend.

We are tremendously lucky to have high order jazz education in our midst. It's nothing to take for granted, and has had a tremendous impact on our salsa scene, when you look at the number of musicians to come out of Central who also play "our Latin thing." Kudos to NCCU Jazz, it's on my list of great things about living in Durham.


Got news or calendar items for Onda Carolina? I would love to hear from YOU. You can leave a comment, or email me by clicking on "Sylvia P." in the contributors box (sidebar, right) to reach my Blogger profile.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Triangle Salsa All Stars

The Triangle Salsa All Stars, an impromptu collective put together by Ricardo Granillo for Diamante's Ritmo Latino Festival, debuted to positive reviews Sunday despite 99 degree heat. It was a sweatbath even in the shade, but dancers were unstoppable. The Sertoma bowl at Bond Park makes a cozy setting for this free festival which focusses on cultural diversity and fun.

It's about time someone pooled the experience and talent in our area into an all star Latin band; it's a lot of work to organize, but let's hope the concept will be taken further still.

Members of Sajaso, Gardel and Carnavalito took part, plus newcomer to the Triangle Guillo Carias, a Dominican Latin jazz trumpeter who recently moved to the area. Guillo's online biography lists stints with Tito Rodriguez, Pablo Casals (via the Conservatory of Puerto Rico), Sammy Davis Jr and even the Soul Train Dancers. Welcome, Guillo, we look forward to hearing a lot more of you.
Guillo Carias & Ricardo Granillo
Guillo Carias and Ricardo Granillo

Guillo just returned from playing a jazz festival in the Dominican Republic. Apparently he has already tooled up a Latin jazz group in NC and plays Wednesday nights at a local restaurant; more details to follow.

The repertoire was a mix of tunes from the different bands' existing book, among them "Autumn Leaves," "La Esencia del Guaguanco" and a Carnavalito original.

Here's a nice clip from "La Esencia," with Pako Santiago laying some serious fire to the timbales. Then Julio takes a bongo solo, and Ramon Ortiz, who frequently serves as a timbalero or bongocero in other bands, solos for a change on trapset drums. Having that critical mass of top quality percussionists in the area makes luxury accessories like this possible--congas, bongo & bell, claves, timbales AND trapset. Having 5 layers of percussion instead of four or three doesn't seem like a big deal but it is EVERYTHING.

The rest of the gang: Ricardo on bass, Atiba Rorie congas, Phil Merritt piano, Alberto Carrasquillo trumpet, Guillo Carias flugelhorn, Hugh Robertson sax, Andy Kleindienst trombone, and Chino Casiano sonero.

Friday, August 7, 2009


Free at Cary's Bond Metro Park this Sunday (8/9) from 12 noon-6 pm.

Here's a rundown of events from the festival organizers at Diamante Inc.:


Event Schedule
(Subject to change at any time)

Main Stage – Sertoma Amphitheater

12:45 PM - Welcome
1:00 PM - Brazilian Soul
1:45 PM - Bomba y Plena Cruz dance
2:15 PM - Tambor Vivo
3:00 PM - Venezuelan Dance
3:30 PM - Triangle Salsa All Stars
4:20 PM - Tapatio
5:00 PM - Bravo Norteño

Ritmo Lounge – Kiwanis Shelter

1:00PM - Dancing with music by DJ Mauricio
1:30 PM - Salsa Classes
2:15 PM - Zumba Classes (pending)
3:00 PM - Merengue Classes
3:45 PM - Percussion Workshop W/ Beverly Botsford
4:30 PM - Dancing with music by DJ Mauricio

UPDATE added 8/10:

It was hot as Hades, but still a great place to run into old friends:

lady of spain, men in hats

all stars

cool kids


Mauricio's family

Video coming soon...

Monday, August 3, 2009

open belly at pinhook!

The Devoted Belly Dance Collective, practitioners of the Tribal Fusion style, will be performing at the Pinhook's Open Belly Dance Night this Tuesday (8/4) at 8 pm.

I haven't seen them, but found this video online:

Got the tip from Devoted member Julia Milton Corley, who teaches belly dance at Hillsborough Yoga. (She's also a licensed massage therapist.)

Other dancers are expected to turn out. Ululations!

Update added 8/5:

Open Belly Dance Night was a very laid-back, friendly gathering of friends and devotees. It will be repeated, I'm told, and I can see this event attracting a following.

For now, I found it pleasant to be in Durham's trendiest bar when it wasn't crammed to the gills. I raised my glass with one local attorney/indie rock demigod who was working late at a downtown office.

My low-light video doesn't do them justice, but you can still make out some movement:

Rotating in the lead: Nandana, Emily Beaman, Julia Milton Corley, Suzanne Kennedy. They make up some of the membership of The Devoted, as well as other local belly dance ensembles.

Some info on the various styles American Tribal belly dance

hip hop primer on puerto rico

Enrique Rivera did this smart report on Calle 13 on NPR, focussing on Puerto Rican social realities and the San Juan barrio of La Perla.

Some of you may remember my post on Calle 13's collaboration with Ruben Blades on a song about La Perla, here.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Service for Peter Heiman SUNDAY (8/2)

At Montas Lounge. Photo courtesy of Pilar Montas.

It's with sadness that I report the passing of Peter Heiman, a friend and local salsa enthusiast who remained an active part of our scene until his death last month at age 79.

I'd heard many exciting tales from Peter's life, about his family's escape from Nazi Germany when he was a young child, and about his trips to Havana in the 1950s where he danced mambo and cha cha cha. Still, I learned a lot I didn't know about Peter's eventful life from this obituary, written by his daughter and son-in-law, Heidi and Robert Venier:

Peter W. Heiman obituary published in the Carrboro Citizen, July 23, 2009

Though visually impaired, Peter creatively beat social isolation. At the old Montas Lounge, I first met Peter on the dancefloor. He would dance with me (and all the other ladies) and at the end, request to be taken to the next dance partner.

Peter was also an avid listener to my radio show, Azucar y Candela, Wednesdays 6-8 pm on WXDU 88.7 FM. Once he won concert tickets I was giving away, and when I personally dropped them off at his home, he wouldn't let me leave without giving me something. That turned out to be a giant chocolate bar. His kindness and joie de vivre always left a smile on one's face.

Peter authored a cookbook in 1993. Photo courtesy of Heidi and Robert Venier.

Peter loved life, and he definitely loved Afro-Cuban rhythm. One of his favorite songs was "Oriente" by Henry Fiol, and whenever I played it, without fail, he would call me up at the station and we'd have a nice chat. He always ended our calls by saying, "thank you for playing such beautiful music." Peter was a special listener; I'll miss him.

If you remember Peter Heiman, or have stories to share at his memorial service, please join us at a celebration his life THIS SUNDAY (8/2), 2-4 pm at the Ronald McDonald House in Chapel Hill.

Postscript, updated 8/2:

I will add some notes soon about the gathering for Peter. In the meantime, here is a nice picture I took tonight of his daughter Heidi and her husband Bobby. She's a jazz singer and has worked A&R in the music business, interestingly enough. We sat around at Peter's place and talked about Celia Cruz, Tito Nieves, stickball and the Borscht Belt.

Heidi and Bobby

Peter faced a lot of obstacles due to his health--among them blindness and Parkinson's. I think he threw himself at the barricades and took his disabilities as carte blanche to be as "out there" as possible, even to the point of sitting on the street with a sign around his neck at Weaver Street Market reading: "I like company. How about a 5-minute conversation?"

Peter used a red cane and and had an old man's shuffle, until you led him to a dancefloor. He could tire out most young women, and had a firm lead. A photo of him dipping his partner, while dancing outdoors at Weaver Street, jogged memories. Heidi confirmed for me that her parents were both inveterate dancers and took part in the New York Jewish-Latin scene, including family vacations at the famed Grossingers resort in the Catskills (where all the Latin bandleaders entertained). Peter moved to New York from Germany at age 4, so he grew up as a real New York kid, and was reportedly a good stickball player. When Heidi was a student at NYU, living right around the corner from the Blue Note, she and her dad went to see Tito Puente and Celia Cruz whenever they could. For me, dancing with Peter was like a time machine, he did these slow rotational turns in a circular pattern that no one in "salsa" does nowadays; that HAD to be Cuban in origin, via the Catskills I suppose. That's stuff you can't learn in books.

He had a great talent for making friends, and giving of himself. I had no idea he volunteered for 14 years at Ronald McDonald House. Everybody had stories of his continuous thankfulness, his priceless sense of humor and pretty much shameless enjoyment of everything from music and dance to cuisine.

He made new friends right up until the end of his life, including Gordon Strauss of Chapel Hill. Gordon just met Peter in March 2009. Nonetheless, he summed up a lot of our comments at the service with this thought:
"Peter had something that all of us wish we had. It was intangible. It was mystical."

I think that's true--the power to see no strangers or obstacles, to find and spread joy in everything, and an absolutely audacious approach to life.

"Mystical" is a word often used by musicians and cognoscenti to describe the quality of Afro-Cuban rhythm that makes us all lifelong hostages to it. Similarly, I was reminded of the call and response of Cuban son by the prayer of remembrance used to close the service, from the Reform Judaism Prayer Book:

At the rise of the sun and at its going down
we remember you

At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter
we remember you

At the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring
we remember you

At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer
we remember you

At the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of autumn
we remember you

At the beginning of the year and when it ends
we remember you

As long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us
we remember you

When we are weary and in need of strength
we remember you

When we are lost and sick at heart
we remember you

When we have decisions that are difficult to make
we remember you

When we have joy we crave to share
we remember you

When we have achievements that are based on theirs
we remember you

For as long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us
we remember you

This same refrain has long been used by soneros to enshrine their musical ancestors:
"Te recordaremos."

--Ibrahim Ferrer (with Chucho Valdes), "La Musica Cubana," from the album Buenos Hermanos.

Whenever we dance, we embody the memories of the lives of those who danced before us. Peter is part of our steps now. I hope I will dance as long and as joyfully.

rumba libre: The Free Expression Project

Paso dance instructors Eduardo and Stephanie Winston had such a big response to their FREE rumba guaguanco class last week, that they are doing it again this Sunday (8/2) at 7:30 pm.

See The Free Expression Project for more info.

WHAT: Rumba Guaguanco Workshop (folkloric Cuban dance)
WHERE: Paso Salsa Studios, 1601 E. Geer St, Durham, NC
WHEN: Sunday (8/2), 7:30-8:30


La rumba me esta llamando...

Ay, mulata...!