Friday, January 29, 2010

Los Van Van

Los Van Van rolled into Fort Zachary Taylor in Key West on a bus from Miami at around 8:45 PM for their scheduled 8:00 PM concert.  Buzz in the crowd was that there was some kind of delay at Miami Airport.  It was worth the wait.

Los Van Van is a high-energy 14-member Cuban band.  They're traveling with a good-sized road crew; it took almost five minutes for everyone to get off the bus and move to the two R/V dressing rooms parked alongside the stage.  The  concert finally got underway just after nine.  It was worth the wait.

Five singers, four men and a woman, fronted the stage and were backed by a mix of guitars, trombones, reeds, ,  keyboards and, of course, mucho percussion.  The sound system was kickin', the stage well-lighted, and it was a beautiful night to be at the fort among friends, just down from the outer mole, next to the water, with a nearly full moon to light up the grounds surrounding the fort.

For the next two hours the band played and sang a non-stop succession of Latin tunes, spoke to the crowd gathered in front of the stage in Spanish (and sang in Spanish and spoke very, very few words of English that I could here.  It was the music that spoke to me.  There are only two genres of music that always set me to dancing -- Latin and Reggae.  I was on my feet almost the whole time and swayed, tapped, and occasionally danced the night away to the Cuban rhythms.

This concert was scheduled to kick off LVV-s 2010 world tour, to honor the 157th anniversary of the birth of Jose Marti, and as it said in the ads for the concert, to bring the message,  "only 90 miles, but a world away and we want it closer".

The local news tonight is making note of LVV's only other U.S. appearance this year, in Miami on Sunday, and of expected protests against "Fidel's Band", just as there were 10 years ago when they last performed there.

Here's hoping that there'll be a massive turnout of younger C-As for the concert, for the music, while the diehards stand in the streets behind police lines, venting hatred against a band that reminds people that Cuba can be a happy place.

It makes me feel like dancing the night away.

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