Calle 13 Vibes Shake Havana

Habana, Mar 24 (Prensa Latina) More than 200,00 Cubans, according to preliminary figures, vibrated on Tuesday to the music of Puerto Rican Calle 13 duo, in a single concert that reaffirmed the boys” leadership in that urban style in Latin America.

The band, with frontmen Rene Perez (Residente) and Eduardo Cabra (Visitante), vented all its energy and made all people at the Jose Marti Anti-Imperialist Tribune move at the rhythm of its music.

Supported by Cuban singer songwriter Kelvis Ochoa, the musicians encouraged the audience, mostly youths, to sing and dance.

Let us show to the world that Cuba is alive and kicking, said Residente, the leading vocalist, after opening with the song called “No Hay Nadie Como Tu” (There’s No One Like You).

Havana’s malecon (sea drive) surrounding areas were overcrowded with people dancing and singing the songs the band was playing. “We are going to talk about some taboo subjects today,” said Perez radiating all his energy.

After he sang his “Cumbia de Los Aburridos,” he took a break to receive the 2010 Cubadisco Internacional Award for his album “Los de Atras Vienen Conmigo” (Those behind Are with Me), granted by the Cuban Music Institute, due to their social commitment and contributions to spread the regional music.

The vocalist raised the bar, singing Pal Norte, a song that won him the 2007 Latin Grammy, together with Cuban Orishas band, and was dedicated to all immigrants in the world.

One of the most applauded segments was when Residente sang “Querido FBI” (Beloved FBI), composed to honor his compatriot Filiberto Ojeda Rios, a pro-independence leader assassinated by FBI agents in 2005.

I wish my homeland would be free someday, he said. This song goes straight to the building behind me, he said in a clear reference to the US Interest Section in Cuba.

Latin America has to be united, said Residente. We have to build a huge bridge.

Residente established a great connection with the audience, using phrases as “Cubita linda (pretty Cuba), sing,” and held posters that demanded Puerto Rico’s independence.

The show, which they called a crazy people’s party, concluded with the song called “La Perla” (The Pearl), which was recorded as a duet with Panamanian Ruben Blades and won them a Grammy in 2009.

This is our music, the combination of Cuba and Calle 13, they asserted before saying goodbye. – Cuba travel

Kool & the Gang in concert in Cuba

Times LIVE:

American R&B pioneers Kool & the Gang helped Cuba get its funk on, bringing their eclectic mix of sounds to an open-air stage a stone’s throw from the sparkling waters of the Caribbean.

Robert “Kool” Bell,” his brother Khalis Bayyan, saxophonist Dennis Thomas and drummer George “Funky” Brown became one of the few U.S. musical acts to perform in Cuba in recent memory, amid Washington’s travel restrictions and the ambivalence of the island’s communist government about rock ‘n’ roll, hip hop and other kinds of American music.

“We are all about the music. We travel the world and our message is love, understanding and unity,” Bell, a singer and bass player, said before taking the stage for a performance authorized by the U.S. government. “We don’t come as politicians, we come as musicians.”

With thousands of spectators stretching down Havana’s storied Malcon coastal boulevard, the band played at the open-air Anti-imperialist Plaza, which sits in front of the U.S. Interests Section. Fans, many of them middle-aged with children in tow, danced and jumped up and down to the music while tenants in nearby apartment buildings watched from balconies.

The band heads next to Miami — where many in the Cuban-American community still hold deep resentment toward Cuba’s government.

Offering a hybrid of funk, disco, R&B, dance and soul, Kool & the Gang came into its own in the 1970s and ’80s. Its “Celebration” has been a mainstay at sports stadiums across the United States for a generation, and another hit, “Jungle Boogie” enjoyed a renaissance when it was featured in Quentin Tarantino’s cult smash “Pulp Fiction.”

The most recent show by a U.S. group was the heavy-metal band Audioslave’s thundering concert before thousands at the same amphitheater in 2005.

But most American rockers, rap artists and other musical acts have kept away. Cuban officials often cite pop-rocker Billy Joel’s indoor performance as a rock ‘n’ roll landmark in Havana, and that was in 1979.

Still, Sunday’s show was more evidence that while the Obama administration and the government of Raul Castro talk tentatively about improving chilly relations, the entertainment world is already well into a thaw.

Omara Portuondo, Cuba’s sultry-voiced diva of the Buena Vista Social Club, was granted U.S. Treasury Department permission to play U.S. concerts and recently accepted a Latin Grammy in person, while singer-songwriter Carlos Varela performed in Washington this month.

Salsa specialists Charanga Habanera have scheduled a year-end concert in Miami, and longtime island favourite Los Van Van have announced plans to put on 60 U.S. concerts in 2010. – Party in Cuba for bachelors and bachelorettes

Manu Chao To Play Che Guevara Memorial Concerts In Cuba

French alt-rock artist Manu Chao is in Cuba to play two concerts marking the 42nd anniversary of the assassination in Bolivia of Cuban-Argentine Revolutionary leader Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara on Oct. 9, 1967.

Chao and his band Radio Bemba Sound System last played in Cuba three years ago at the open-air Anti-Imperialist Tribune that faces the North American Interests Section (Sina) building, which functions as a substitute for a U.S. Embassy on the Malecon seafront.

Chao, former leader of band Mano Negra, will play first on Oct. 9 at Havana University, where ex president Fidel Castro studied and developed his revolutionary ideas.

On Oct. 12 – the Day of Hispanity that marks the ‘discovery’ of the Americas by Christopher Columbus – Chao will play in Santa Clara, 270km east of Havana, where Che’s remains lie. Santa Clara was the scene of the final battle of the Castro-led insurrection against the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, which was commanded by Che Guevara at the end of 1958.

Chao arrived in Havana with Polish designer Jacek Wozniak, who will join several Cuban artists to paint a mural dedicated to Che.

Author of hit songs such as “Clandestino” and “Próxima Estación: Esperanza,” Chao first visited Cuba in 1992 during a tour of Latin America with other French artists on a cargo ship. – Party in Cuba

Juanes concert in Cuba readies for big crowd

HAVANA (Reuters) – Cubans were expected to fill Havana’s massive Revolution Square on Sunday for a concert by Colombian singer Juanes and a lineup of top Spanish-language musicians who hope art can do what politics has not — bring together Cubans here and in the United States.

The much-hyped event will be beamed live to an international television audience, including viewers in Miami, the heart of the Cuban exile community and center of opposition to Cuba’s communist-led government.

Television viewers will see an expected half million people, who are being urged to wear white as a symbol of peace, listening to music in the square where the man Miami loves to hate, Fidel Castro, once spoke to huge rallies.

Pope John Paul II held a mass in the square in 1998, drawing 850,000 people.

On Sunday morning, several hundred young people, organized by the Union of Young Communists, were at the site preparing to work security or staff food booths, undaunted by the prospect of a long day in the hot sun.

“Are you kidding? I’m thrilled and can’t wait to see Juanes and the others,” Antonio Perez said, dressed in a white T-shirt, jeans, sneakers and a cap.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, well worth sweating for.”

Joining Juanes will be 14 singers and bands from six countries, among them Miguel Bose of Spain, Olga Tanon from Puerto Rico, Jovanotti from Italy and Los Van Van from Cuba.

Juanes, winner of 17 Grammy awards, has said his “Peace Without Borders” concert is not about politics, but reconciliation. He believes U.S. President Barack Obama has “opened the door” to change by taking steps to improve U.S.-Cuba relations.

“This concert is one little grain of sand more in the process of improving relations through art,” Juanes, 37, said upon arrival in Havana this weekend. “It is a gesture of peace, a way of weaving bonds of union.”


To avoid the taint of politics, he has insisted that none of the musicians express their opinions on stage and that no politicians be involved.

“I am not a communist. I am not aligned with the government,” he told the Miami Herald last month.

Still, the concert has touched off protests and strong words in Miami, where many Cubans fled after Fidel Castro took power in 1959. Castro, 83, resigned as president last year due to health problems and was replaced by his younger brother, Raul Castro, 78.

Anti-communist exiles say Juanes is helping to legitimize a government that denies its people basic human rights and stifles dissent by throwing opponents in jail.

In August, Juanes CDs were smashed on Calle Ocho, the main street of Miami’s Little Havana, in an attention-grabbing protest by anti-Castro exile group Mambisa Watch.

The group has said it will smash more CDs, this time with a steamroller, on Sunday evening.

Juanes had to get police protection at his Key Biscayne home in Miami after receiving a death threat on his Twitter account.

The Miami incidents have been a boon for Cuba by making it look like the more reasonable side in its five-decade old political conflict with anti-communist exiles.

Cuban Cultural Minister Abel Prieto told reporters on Friday the concert was “a huge blow … against that vulgar form of fascism practiced over there” in Miami.

A number of Cuban dissidents have supported the concert, even though they say the government is using it to project an image of openness and tolerance that does not exist. They say they share the musicians’ hope it will somehow help unite Cubans everywhere and bring about change.

News reports say Cuban authorities had warned some dissidents not to attend the event because they feared they would stage a protest.

But a larger concern may be that the concert, scheduled to start at 2 p.m. EDT, will take place under Cuba’s intense tropical sun on an expanse of pavement with no shade.

The government has advised concert-goers to dress in light clothing and bring food and water. – Luxury vacation rental in Havana

Juanes receives threats over Cuba concert

(AP) KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. – Latin pop singer Juanes considered canceling a Sept. 20 concert in Cuba because he received what he felt were threatening messages on his Twitter account, according to a police report.

The 17-time Latin Grammy winner is scheduled to hold his Paz Sin Fronteras — Peace Without Borders — concert in Havana. But some Cuban-Americans in Miami have criticized the event, saying that it endorses the Communist-led government of Fidel and Raul Castro.

In a police report dated Aug. 15, Juanes said that someone sent him a message on Twitter, which said, among other things, “I hate what you are saying but you will die for defending your right to say it.”

Key Biscayne Police said that Juanes — whose real name is Juan Esteban Aristizabal — considered canceling the concert and cited “fears for his safety as well as his family.”

Juanes’ manager and the promoter of the concert, Fernan Martinez Maech, also told Key Biscayne Police that he has “experienced hostility” from co-workers at the office regarding the show, who labeled him a “communist.”

Police said they are taking the threats seriously and keeping a watch on both Juanes and Maecha’s homes. Both live in Key Biscayne, an exclusive island enclave southeast of Miami’s downtown.

“We are treating this like any other incident, regardless of how famous he is,” said Key Biscayne Police Chief Charles Press.

Event promoters insist the Havana concert will have no ideological overtones, even if it is being staged in Havana’s Revolution Plaza — with its famed homage to fallen revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara on the side of a building roughly half a dozen stories tall. Among the other acts scheduled to perform are Cuban folk legend Silvio Rodriguez and Cuban salsa stars Los Van Van.

The Grammy-winning Juanes, who is from Colombia, is known for his social activism. His first “Peace Without Borders” concert in March 2008 drew tens of thousands to the border between Venezuela and Colombia when tensions were high over a Colombian commando raid into neighboring Ecuador that killed a leading rebel commander.

John Reilly, Juanes’ New York-based spokesman, said Thursday that plans for the concert have not changed and that “the vast majority of communication Juanes is receiving from both fans on Twitter and everyday people he comes into contact with in Miami continues to be overwhelmingly supportive.”

The statement also said there are “a very small number of extremists who apparently feel threatened by change and have posted or acted in an aggressive manner.”

Juanes has attempted to answer his critics on Twitter, often discussing the controversy in 140-character tweets: “Ninety miles of border, of wall, of lack of communications, of pain and death,” Juanes wrote on Monday, citing the distance between Florida and Cuba. “Don’t you think it would be good that they talk after 50 years?” – News about Cuba

Rocker Juanes to offer Sept. 20 concert in Havana


HAVANA — Colombian rocker Juanes wants to hold his second “Peace Without Borders” concert in Havana’s storied Revolution Plaza next month with a host of regional stars — and says he has met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in hopes that American musicians can join the extravaganza.

In what could be the latest sign the art world is well into a thaw of nearly a half century of icy U.S.-Cuba relations, Juanes’ manager, Fernan Martinez, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the concert will be Sept. 20.

He said organizers are waiting for Cuban government permission to use the sprawling concrete plaza, which is flanked by a huge homage to fallen Argentine revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara and houses offices for Fidel and Raul Castro. Hundreds of thousands of Cubans gather there each May 1 for International Workers’ Day celebrations.

A similarly huge crowd could come to rock, making the event one of the top Cuban concerts in recent memory. The first installment of Juanes’ “Peace Without Borders” concert in March drew 100,000 fans to the border between Venezuela and Colombia.

The Cuba concert coincides with U.N. International Peace Day and could feature up to 12 artists from Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Cuba and, Martinez said, the United States. He refused to divulge all the names.

Washington’s 47-year-old trade embargo prohibits Americans from doing business with Cuba, but performers can get permission to come from the Treasury Department.

For now, Martinez said, the show will feature at least Juanes and Spanish singer Miguel Bose.

“Following the lead of the first concert … the event will use music as a tool to transcend politics and demonstrate unity of peoples beyond borders,” Martinez said.

He said Juanes, who has started a foundation to help land-mine victims, met with Clinton “to present the concept for the concert” and that “the requests for U.S. artists are currently in process with the Treasury Department.”

Martinez said the singer also met recently with Treasury officials and Congress, as well as leaders of key Cuban exile groups in Miami to help ensure U.S. stars come for the show.

Cuban Communist Party newspaper Granma carried a small story Tuesday saying Juanes would perform in Havana on Sept. 20, and that the concert would feature an open-air venue and be centered around the color white, signifying peace. It made no mention of Revolution Plaza, however.

The paper quoted Cuban Institute of Music vice president Osmany Lopez in reporting that Cuban folk legend Silvio Rodriguez and local salsa stars Los Van Van would participate.

Lopez told Granma that Juanes visited Cuba in June and met with Rodriguez, a pioneering member of the island’s “New Song” movement who mixes music with staunch defense of the Castro government and Cuban revolutionary politics.

Juanes, whose Spanish-language hits include “A Dios le pido,” “La camisa negra” and “Me enamora,” has won 17 Latin Grammy trophies, more than any other artist.

His “Peace Without Borders” on the border between Colombia and Venezuela featured Bose, Juan Luis Guerra, Alejandro Sanz, Carlos Vives and other stars who wore white and sang on the Simon Bolivar bridge between the two South American countries. – News and events from Cuba