Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Videos from a recent trip to Cuba

My brother and his wife recently traveled to Cuba. Other than a tan and a lingering stomach virus, they brought back some really fun musical videos. It sounds cliche, but they said that there really is music everywhere you go in the commercial parts of Havana including restaurants, cafes and bars, and it's not just for the tourists.

I'm so curious to know if these folks get paid and how the scene and community is organized. Do bands play once a week at certain establishments? Do they make the rounds playing with a difference band every night? What's the balance of originals and standard tunes?

So many questions! Anyone have any answers for me?

Below is a band playing at Teatro Tomás Terry in the City of Cienfuegos on the Southern Coast of Cuba. My brother said this was the best band they saw. The sound is a little distorted, but you can still get a good idea.

This is a dance troupe at Plaza de Armas in Havana. A parade broke out down the street following the percussionists afterwards. We figure this is something organized for tourists.

Ages of the musicians ranged from young to old and I'm super happy to see the two ladies in this particular band.

And OMIWOW, I just noticed that the bass player is playing that thing facing backwards. Haha, awesome...

I love the empty restaurant table in the foreground.

I read an article in grad school about how after the success of the film and record Buena Vista Social Club (1999) the music started to revert back to what it was in the mid 20th century since it was seen as supporting Cuban tourism. It seems that whatever modern music that had been happening ten years ago might have not faired very well since from what I can tell, the music in these videos are pretty traditional.

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