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Friday, July 21, 2006
Stories behind the songs, pt. 4

Taca Toco was inspired by a neighbor of mine that I shared many, many beers with at my office. The office is a little cafe that was just a few blocks away from where I was living at the time that I started frequenting it. I call it my office, because quite often, I do conduct business there, it's an easy place to find, and I have meetings there from time to time.

But, more often than not, the business at hand is just to kick back at the end of a hard day slaving over a hot keyboard, and shoot the breeze with my friends and neighbors. One of these guys was the inspiration for Taca Toco. Taca Toco is about people who talk too much. A universal theme, no doubt, we all know people who tend to babble, but while I hate to stereotype, it sometimes seems to me that that this particular tropical island has more than it's share of pontificators.

My friend always is complaining about people who talk too much, and he always illustrates his point by saying "taca taca taca toco toco toco toco," way faster than should be humanly possible (try it, it's not easy to say fast). Of course, the ironic thing, and what he doesn't know to this day, even though he's heard the tune, is that he is the subject of the first verse. jajajajaja! The guy never shuts up!

Un vecino mio, buen hombre, no pide na'
pero todo el dia hablando, bla bla bla bla bla bla bla
al final del dia, cuando ya no puedo más
grito, "Callate, hombre, ¡porque tu no sabes na!

The other two verses are fictional, and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Another story behind the songs, pt. 3

I was having lunch in La Habana with my two favorite singers, El Indio and Mayito from Van Van at El Palenque, one of my favorite restaurants. After ordering, the waiter came by the table with a basket of bread. Mayito waved it away, and said, "¡Directamente al mambo!" Jajajaja, immediately, I made a mental note to myself: this is the title of the next Mamborama album.

Mayito is a very intense person. I don't know, too many cafecitos, too much Red Bull, but whatever, he's certainly not boring. He has a giant German Sheperd named Mambo. One afternoon, I was over at his house, sitting on the second floor patio, drinking ron and listening to some mixes of his latest solo CD. The dog, Mambo, ran outside to the street, and became enamored with a little terrier that must have been in heat. This poor little dog was was half Mambo's size, and was being walked on a leash by a little old lady, who was quite distressed by mambo's boldness in taking liberties with her little dog.

Mayito and I heard her shouting at Mambo, and this is the part I will always remember: Mayito Rivera Van Van, standing up, leaning over the wall of the patio, and shouting at the top of his lungs, "¡Mambo! ¡Mambo! ¡Mambo!" jajajajaja!!! Finally, Mayito had to go downstairs and drag poor Mambo away from his new novia, because Mambo wasn't in control of his actions at that point. I think all males can relate; the other brain takes over.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Stories behind the songs, pt. 2

Puro Y Temba started out just with music. I had no idea whatsoever what the lyrics should be, so I took the demo to El Indio's house along with a bottle of Havana Club. On the second listen, (I kid you not), Indio started singing the coro:

Sé qué soy un puro
y qué soy un temba
pero tengo demásiado sabor
pa' ponerte a gozar

I fell out laughing, and immediately approved this idea, it was great. Indio and I are, after all, tembas to be sure. In case you don't know, a temba is Cuban slang for someone over 40. (Some people think it's over thirty, but I disagree). A puro is another Cubanismo for an older guy. And like most older, superficial guys (it seems universal), we like younger women. Not too young, mind you, I'm not a perv. In fact, I like them to be old enough to at least be able to carry on a decent conversation. But still, in my mind, I'm perpetually nineteen, I liked young girls then, and nothing has changed, except my age. It's hard to grow old gracefully when you are as immature as I am, jajaja.

Robertón Van Van more than brought the song to life, and I love this improvisation of his:

Yo sé qué tienes la juventud
pero yo tengo la experiencia

So fellow tembas take note. Contained within this song are more than enough great lines to convince a cubanita that despite your age, you are still hot stuff. Put them to good use!

Postscript: An Italian web site, Salsaschool, has posted what looks to be an accurate transcription of Robertón's improvisations. Check it out.
Sunday, July 02, 2006
OK, an update, finally, allright, ok, ok...

My favorite girls with one of my favorite musicians, El Tosco. L-R: Sandra, mi novia, Tosco, Lauren, mi hija.

Well, a blog without updates is a sad thing, neglected, left to fend for itself. It gets lonely because after awhile no one comes around to visit anymore. But my excuse as always, is that I've been spending more than two thirds of my time in an undisclosed tropical location where internet access is a twenty minute sweaty walk away, and costs nine bucks an hour. And the truth is that on a hot day, I prefer to kick back drinking a cold cerveza or three hablando mierda with my compadres. It's been that way for over a year and a half now. But I am currently back in the yuma, getting things ready for the American release of Directamente Al Mambo. And Kevin Moore of has publicly shamed me into updating the blog, jajaja.

Anyway, I am proud and happy to announce that it will be released July 18 on Ahi-Nama Records. This puts Mamborama in very good company indeed. Ahi-Nama has Maraka, Issac Delgado, Bamboleo, Eddy K, and now, Mamborama. Yupiii! Ahi-Nama president Jimmy Maslon has been putting out Cuban records for ten years now, and he definitely knows what he is doing.

I feel good about all of this, because making this record was NOT easy. Two long years in the making, lots of twists and turns along the way, pero vale la pena. Check the previous posts for the who's who on the record, and of course, don't forget to listen to the clips.

Looking back at it now, I find it interesting how autobiographical the record is. All of the tunes were written down there, and every one has something or another to do with the life that I've been living there. It's been at times strange and surrealistic, but never boring. Mi Bailarina, for example, is a fictionalized account of a dancer I was chasing at the Hotel Cohiba a few years ago. I told the story to El Indio, and his lyrics are great. It wasn't quite that way, but it gets the essence of what was going on. "Se me fue, mi bailarina..." Later, I'll post some more stories about how the tunes came to be. It all really proved to me that Charlie Parker was right: "My music comes from my life, my experiences. If you ain't living your life, nothing's going to come out of your horn."

Mamborama news and the world of Cuban music, accompanied by occasional self-indulgence.

Extensive Cuba trip report now online.

Here's an online scrapbook of photos of La Habana and some of the recording sessions for the new album.

August 2003 / September 2003 / October 2003 / November 2003 / December 2003 / January 2004 / February 2004 / March 2004 / April 2004 / May 2004 / June 2004 / July 2004 / August 2004 / September 2004 / October 2004 / February 2005 / April 2005 / June 2005 / December 2005 / March 2006 / April 2006 / July 2006 /

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