Saturday, January 30, 2010

Mambo Show, but No Band Tonight

As far as we know, the Mambo Dinamico party tonight with Eddie Torres, et al., at Capital VIP is still on. It will be without live music, however. UNC has cancelled classes, so that makes it a snow day for Charanga Carolina (a university performing ensemble).

Note from Charanga director David Garcia:

Dear Charanga community,

I am cancelling Charanga's performance tonight because of UNC's adverse weather announcement ( But Mambo Dinamico's other events are still scheduled to take place tonight!

David Garcia

Friday, January 29, 2010

Weather Watch: Mambo Dinamico STILL ON This Weekend

As of 5 pm Friday, the festival weekend with Charanga Carolina and Eddie Torres is ON. Passing on Betto's press release:

Hello guys,
The most important news is that we are going to have the event. Don't allow a little bit of snow to intimidate you!!!

Here are some tips for you to drive safe on winter weather:

1. Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
2. Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
3. Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.
4. Keep your lights and windshield clean.
5. Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
6. Don't use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
7. Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.
8. Don't pass snow plows and sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you're likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.
9. Don't assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.

See you guys tonight!


Mambo Dinamico is featuring Eddie Torres at their 8th Year Anniversary. Eddie Torres is an amazing instructor and choreographer. Most of the top dancers teaching and performing Salsa all over the world have learned from EddieTorres or have been inspired by his videos, choreographies, and dancers. He is recognized by the world Salsa community as the King of Mambo. Eddie Torres' partner is none other than Griselle Ponce.

Griselle Ponce is one of the top ladies stylest in the world with an enchanting charisma on stage as well as on the dance floor. She has been teaching and performing throughout the world for over 10 years.

It is an honor to have Eddie Torres in North Carolina and it is a great oppurtunity for you to witness this icon light up the stage with his beautiful partner Griselle Ponce.

The weekend line-up also includes Paso Fino from Atlanta, Dulcinea from Asheville, Rodrigo and Cristina from Chicago, and North Carolina's very own Mambo Dinamico, CoboBrothers Dance Company, and Charanga Carolina.

Welcome Party at Carmen's Cuban Cafe & Lounge on Friday, January 29th – 10pm-2:30am
Workshops at Capitol VIP (formerly Red's) on Saturday January 30th – 12pm-4pm
Anniversary Party at Capitol VIP (formerly Red's) on Saturday January 30th – 9pm-2:30am
Workshops at Capitol VIP (formerly Red's) on Sunday January 31st – 12pm-4pm

Go to for more details about the event.

Mambo Dinamico Dance Company

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mambo Dinamico 8th Anniversary Weekend

Local dance company Mambo Dinamico celebrates its 8th anniversary this weekend a visit by "Mambo King" Eddie Torres, numerous other guests who will present workshops, and live music by Charanga Carolina. This will be Torres' first appearance in North Carolina.

Torres, former stage dancer with Tito Puente, is known as one of the leading instructors in New York mambo. He will partner with Griselle Ponce for a show during Saturday night's party at Capital VIP (formerly Red's) in Raleigh.

Charanga Carolina provides live music for a dance party following Saturday's show; Capital VIP is a new Latin club with a large, well-maintained wood dancefloor. A door admission of $30 includes the floor show (which promises to be spectacular) and live music.

A kickoff party Friday night at Carmen's with DJ Salsa Mike is also open to the public, for a more modest admission of $10. Consult Betto Herrera's Mambo Dinamico webpage for full event details.

Better Herrera
A talented mambo pro, and always a friendly face, Betto has been a positive force in our dance community these last 8 years, building up an infrastructure of dancers, deejays, workshops and social events to spread love for the art form. His Tuesday Latin socials at Carmen's Cuban Cafe have become a fixture and weekly outlet for dancers.

As a mambo specialist, he's a disciplined pro who travels the world to dance and give instruction. By the same token, he's brought outside instructors in to enhance our local dance scene, helping to put North Carolina on the interregional salsa networking map.

But I also know Betto as an avid supporter and follower of live music. As a native Ecuadorian with roots in popular dance culture, Betto understands the richness and diversity of salsa styles, and the folkloric sources they draw upon. While building up his own company, he has contributed to a spirit of cooperation in our relatively small community for Latin dance.

Congratulations, Betto and Mambo Dinamico, on 8 years of bringing high quality instruction and events to the Triangle!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Richmond Road Trip

Bio Ritmo update...

How to shoot with no light? I explored this concept up at Balliceaux in Richmond Tuesday night, my first chance in eons to catch up on my Bio Ritmo lore and shoot video of their new songs. Working with silhouettes and sound, you can feel your way; low-light stills fill in the blanks. This is the afrobeat coda to "Seguiras Criticando," with a Manu Dibango-style sax solo by J.C. Kuhl:

bio ritmo

bio ritmo

bio ritmo

Not only is Bio Ritmo playing tons of new material, they're recording--4 songs are already down, and partial tracks for 4 others, under the eye and ear of Grammy-winning producer Aaron Levinson at a local Richmond studio.

Taking stock of personnel changes during the last year (has it really been that long??), I met three new players, some subbing, some permanent. Conguero Gabo Tomasini relocated from Richmond to Brooklyn a few months ago; he plays their (now frequent) NYC gigs, but Nicolai Creatore plays their dirty south gigs. Nick, one of the chefs at Balliceaux, lived in Brazil as a kid, so he's no stranger to Latin/Caribbean rhythms like samba and reggae. He's also played in D.C.'s gogo scene.

bio ritmo

Bongocero, not always a regularly-held seat in Bio Ritmo, was manned (in style) by Arnaldo Marrero, a leading Latin DJ in Charlottesville. Robin Lugo, leader of the Virginia Beach band Tumbao Salsero, was also in attendance, and he sat in on bell and bongo during the end-of-show descarga.

Brass has seen the departure of trumpeter Tim Lett, who got married and had a baby (congratulations, Tim). Once a 2-trumpet, 2-trombone section, with nary a saxophone, the brass are now 1-1-1, with the addition of J.C. Kuhl on saxophone. Holding strong are "Mambo" Bob Miller on trumpet, and Toby Whitaker on lone trombone.

Former trombonist Stefan Demetriadis, who left the band in 2005, was among the onlookers at this free show, which drew a packed crowd to see the salsa band whose once-weekly gigs have become a rarity in Richmond. Another ex-homey in the house was Jonny Sullivan, the edgy, meteroic bass player who was part of Ritmo's regenerative spurt back around 2003.

bio ritmo
Bio Ritmo's Toby Whitaker

One of the biggest stories of the night for me was Toby Whitaker, the band's dapper, softspoken (offstage) trombonist, who is really coming into his own as a songwriter. Two smokers, "La Muralla" and "Verguenza," stemmed from Toby's pen, featuring dark, urgent sonorities and extremely tasty brass parts. "Verguenza," below, features solos by Mambo Bob, trumpet, and Giustino Riccio, timbales:

The other new tunes I heard were "Majadero," and "La Verdad," both with straightforward, yet amenable dance grooves. Sonero Rei Alvarez is still the band's lyricist. Can't wait to hear all these tunes evolve and most of all, how Levinson will massage the Ritmo sound, after their last two albums engineered by Jon Fausty. Rei says the new CD will include a re-recording of "Lola," from their very first 1996 album, still a staple of their live show.

I fell in love with what was happening with this band in 2003, and my heart still belongs to Bio Ritmo. Though a lot of their energy these days is devoted to side projects, such as the bolero revival band Miramar, it's nice to see that Bio Ritmo, far from slowing down, is sounding as solid as ever. It's been too, too long since they toured down this a'way; anyone in the mood for a Bio Ritmo / Miramar double-header?

Sightreading! Bio Ritmo Setlist, 1/12/10

Timbalero Giustino Riccio composes the setlists and writes copies out by hand for everyone in the band. This one is almost true to life; only the order of the last two songs was reversed:
bio ritmo
"A La Cha" (as it appears on the CD, Biónico), seems to be written "Allah Cha" here; a play on words on that song's middle eastern vibe?

Llego...Van Van!

I think this says it all:

Eli Silva photo reproduced with permission

Billboard in Miami, photo by Eli Silva used by permission; first published on

Los Van Van's first U.S. concert in 6 years will be January 28 on Key West, followed by this show in Miami on January 31. Then, they head to Europe for the usual winter touring over there. Get ready, because a full U.S. tour is being planned for March!

Charanga Habanera just finished a successful tour that took them to San Francisco, Miami and New York.

The wave of Cuban artists is coming!

Haiti Fundraiser TONIGHT @ Cuban Revolution

CORRECTION: Cuban Revolution will donate $5 per person making a donation of $5 or more.

This just in: Cuban Revolution Restaurant in Durham will be MATCHING ALL DONATIONS collected tonight for Haiti at the weekly salsa party. This is a no cover party, 9 pm - 1 am, so all your money goes to fund earthquake relief.

Good excuse to come out and dance, and make your donation count a little extra. If you can't make it tonight, consider donating at one of the links below.


Links to donate:

1. Donate through Wyclef Jean's foundation, Yele Haiti. Text "Yele" to 501501 and $5 will be charged to your phone bill and given to relief projects through the organization.

2. The American Red Cross is pledging an initial $200,000 to assist communities impacted by this earthquake. They expect to provide immediate needs for food, water, temporary shelter, medical services and emotional support. They are accepting donations through their International Response Fund.

3. UNICEF has issued a statement that "Children are always the most vulnerable population in any natural disaster, and UNICEF is there for them." UNICEF requests donations for relief for children in Haiti via their Haiti Earthquake Fund. You can also call 1-800-4UNICEF.

Thanks to Eduardo at Paso for passing along this info.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

FREE Concert SUNDAY: Paco Band in Raleigh

Ed Stephenson and the Paco Band will give a FREE concert Sunday (1/10), at 3 pm at the North Carolina Museum of History. Cuban soprano Teresa Fernández will sing songs of Spain and Latin America with the nuevo flamenco quartet.

VIDEO: Paco Band at Marsh Woodwinds 9/26/09

One hour program; seating in the NC Musem of History's Daniels Auditorium is limited, so early arrival is recommended.

The Music of the Carolinas concert series is co-sponsored by Pinecone.

Friday, January 1, 2010

2010: Live and in Durham

Where to be on New Year's Eve? Some jive dj party just wouldn't cut had to be live music. On any other night of the year, I would have hightailed it south on I-85 to check out this West End Mambo collaboration with the Greensboro Symphony. But on NYE, who wants to be on the highway between 10 and midnight?

It had to be live music...

The Beast. Together with Hammer No More The Fingers, at Broad Street Cafe, Durham's latest endangered nightspot bringing class and culture to the Bull City. Ambience: check. Reasonable: double check (a mere $10). Close to home: gravy.

I didn't think The Beast would have their GarDel-raided horn section, Andy Kleindienst being in Greensboro at the West End Mambo gig, so it was a happy surprise to find Tim Smith sitting at the bar when I came in. Gravy and biscuits.

This party was nice and mellow, teeming with Durham folks in their finery, from insulated flannel to Liberace-worthy fake fur, patent vinyl pumps to biker boots. It was a fashion trail mix. Nice change of pace from the sleek and sweaty salsa scene.

The Beast gave an awesome, intimate live set from about 10:30-11:30. Intimacy is one of Broad Street's virtues. There was at least one new joint, and Pierce also billed the Kwanzaa documentary soundtrack tune, "The Black Candle," (click on link to see video) as a New Year's Eve exclusive.

The Beast at Broad Street

Tim Smith crooned "Let's Stay Together," as only Tim Smith can, and embellished a few other tunes with his saxophone. Here he is soloing on "More To Me" off The Beast's latest album Silence Fiction:

As The Beast got ready to close down their set with "Translation" (from Silence Fiction featuring Orquesta GarDel), I got another jump for my money. Brushing past me to get onstage in mid-mambo is Andy Kleindienst, fresh off the interstate, with his trombone out and blasting. It was great to catch the on-stage reunion for posterity:

Andy reports that West End and the Symphony was "solid," the Latin rhythm section was integrated into the symphony throughout, and that a lot of people were dancing. More eye-witness reports welcome!

Badass Brass

Hammer No More was a good pairing. It was my first time seeing them, and I understand what the fuss is about. Nice sound, smart music. After the countdown, they rocked a still-willing crowd from about midnight to 1:00.

Happy New Year, everybody. 2010 will be a whole new ball game for Latin music on tour! More on this soon.