Out of the blue I got a phone call from Manolito Simonet last week. He was in France, and had just finished a successful concert with Trabuco. He was backstage, with a cell phone, and passed the phone around to some of my buddies in the band, David Bencomo and El Indio. Indio sang bits of "Gata loca" over the phone, and it made me realize how much I miss the scene down there. We don't get to talk much when they're in Cuba and I'm here in the states. I don't know if you've ever called Cuba from the states, but if you need to, check the rates first--it's brutal. But I can call Europe for three cents a minute, and that's probably why it was easy for Manolito to call me just to say hello. They are back in Cuba now, but there is a great concert report of their Amsterdam gig by Head Timba Geek Michelle White on Timba.com
Check it out.
Cuba makes new Guinness record in Son music
Here's a report from a Vietnamese site about Cuba's recent record-setting long-distance Son extravaganza that was part of the CubaDisco conference this year. Continuous Son for 300 hours. 300 hours? How many days is that? That's a hell of a gig. They started out in Santiago de Cuba and traveled through 14 provinces and islands before ending up in Havana. Nearly 1,000 artists participated.
I can easily imagine the scene when they were in any town--there were probably a zillion Soneros lined up to put in their two centavos worth, and probably as many musicians to take over the tumbaos when a musico was ready to drop. But how did they keep it going when they were traveling? I'm imagining one of those big open Cuban trucks that are commonly used for transport in el campo, with a band set up in it, singing and playing Son as they go from gig to gig. Imagine that: rolling along the bumpy Cuban highway, playing nonstop, hoping that someone takes over for you before you pass out from the sun. I'm never going to complain about any gig I have ever again! I hoped they picked a good tune--imagine having to listen to it for 300 hours...