Here in the US, it's Thanksgiving, a holiday originally meant to express thanks for everything you have, but has since degenerated into a feeding frenzy football-watching day of indulgence which usually leaves one thankful for some alka-seltzer. Don't get me wrong, I have my turkey in the oven, and I am
thankful for everything I have, but I'm also remembering where I was last year at this time.
I was in Havana, and David Bencomo invited me to ride the bus with him and the rest of Manolito Y Su Trabuco
to a gig they had in Cienfuegos province. Never having been to el campo,
I jumped at the chance. I didn't get a chance to eat before the bus left, so when we stopped at the equivalent of a Cuban truck stop, I bought a stale bocadito
(literally, little mouthful. It's a small Cuban sandwich usually made with ham, cheese or mystery meat). I assumed that would be my Thanksgiving dinner, and I didn't mind a bit, because I was having fun with my compañeros
and seeing new parts of Cuba.
At one point, David lowered one of the bus windows and drew in a deep breath. "Ah, la cana..."
They were harvesting the sugarcane, and you could smell it in the air. Naturally, this enhanced the flavor of the rum that was being passed around the bus.
When we got to town, there were almost as many horse drawn carts as there were cars--a totally different world from the third-world sophistication of La Habana. And they did feed us--yellow rice with roast pork and plenty of beer.
Trabuco was the headlining act for this town's carnaval, and the open field where the stage was set up soon filled up like the Cuban version of Woodstock. Everyone in the band was in great spirits, and they played their asses off. I was camped out onstage by the piano, and Manolito asked me to sit in. Now I've sat in with them a bunch of times, and usually screw up just enough that Manolito stays real close,
and takes over fairly quickly, but this night I fell right into the groove, and for a good two or three minutes Manolito ran around the stage playing a guiro, and I felt like I had been handed the reins to a team of large, well-trained, powerful horses. A word like exhilarating doesn't even come close to describing the feeling.
After the concert was over, the rum was everywhere. I don't know how many bottles we went through that night, but the next thing I knew, David was nudging me in the ribs. It was six a.m., the bus was dropping me a block from my house, and I staggered home and slept til noon.
Best. Thanksgiving. EVER! Happy Thanksgiving to all my amigos and amigas!
Wow! This German/Austrian/Swiss site has Mamborama at NUMBER ONE on both the singles and albums charts! I'm speechless... Die Salsa-Charts Homepage
The New York Times travel section has an article that may prove useful for Americans wishing to visit Cuba: JOURNEYS; Cuba: You Can't Get There From Here . . .
"But the real draw of traveling to Cuba: it is illegal. ''There's certainly an excitement to going somewhere that's off limits,'' the man said, speaking on condition of anonymity. He said he had been to Cuba three times, most recently for a weekend trip in late 2001." Hmm. I have always traveled there legally. It's not as difficult as you may think. DestinationCuba.com
has all the info on how you may qualify for a general license to travel to Cuba. They also have flight schedules.
have created a guide to Timba on the internet with LINKS
to many sources of information, including this site! Mil gracias, Kaybeen!
The Italians have to be the greatest fans of Cuban music and salsa in the world. Check out this site, the Italian multimedia portal of salsa music: www.salsamania.it
. Scroll down the News section on the left, and follow the "Anteprime" link to a page that launches a player (click "Ascolta Qui") with clips of the very latest tunes directamente de Cuba. Two new songs by Los Van Van, Manolito y su Trabuco, Tirso Duarte, Paulito FG and a bunch of others. Thanks to the Timba Geeks group
for finding this site!
And that's just the tip of the Italian salsa iceberg. There's SoySalsero
and many more. Mil Grazie a los locos de la musica en Italia!
Well, the fat lady is singing over at MP3.com
. The site will be shut down on December 2. Kind of a shame. Although it's gone way downhill the last year or so, it allowed us to share our music with people all over the world. Mamborama has been played over 400,000 times on mp3.com--that's pretty good exposure. If you want to hear some older live Mamborama, do it now, because I don't think I'll be hosting those mp3s on this site--don't have the space. Thanks for everything, Mp3.com, it was great while it lasted!