Los Angeles-Regular visitors and tourists driving or walking around Olvera Street, Sunday, June 4, 2017, thought that they were on a journey through Cuba for cultural enrichment. Yambu Productions teamed up with La Plaza de Cultura Y Artes to present the inaugural Cuban American Music Festival, Sunday, June 4, 2017. The festival was held from 12-8PM.
The Cuban American Music Festival made a triumphant return after a three year hiatus. Let’s hope for a continuation of this much beloved festival. The Cuban American Music Festival at La Plaza de Cultural Y Artes was the first of it’s kind, held in historic Downtown Los Angeles, at the museum.
Clear skies with temperatures in the 80’s, coupled with great Cuban music, mouthwatering food in historic downtown Los Angeles created the perfect ambiance for the inaugural Cuban American Music Festival. Thousands of Cubans and fans of Cuban music and Cuban culture were in attendance on this beautiful Southern California afternoon.
DJ Guajiro contributed to the vibes by spinning favorite Cuban hits that kept the arriving crowd entertained and played tunes in between acts.
The Cuban American Music Festival had something for everyone during this fun-filled day. People could try their hands at dominoes, browse creative art on display, cigar rolling station, enjoy some Cuban cuisine and spirits.
The fahrenheit outside La Plaza de Cultura Y Artes got hotter and hotter as the day progressed. The surge in the weather was due to the fiery Latin rhythms served up generously by popular Latin bands.
Jose Cristobal, Program Host on Alma del Barrio, 88.9FM, served as Master of Ceremonies. Changui Majadero opened the show with some sounds of Cuba from their home base of East Los Angeles. Their style of music is changui, a surging Afro-Cuban musical tradition that took shape in the late 19th Century on the eastern side of the island around Guantanamo. As the day progress, music fans witnessed the thread that connected all of the bands on this outstanding bill. Changui is one of the foundational styles that gave birth to son, salsa and timba. The quintets energetic set featured the tunes “Guantanamera,” “Guarrarey,” “La Rumba Esta Buena,” “Magaton,” and “Mayumbera” to name a few.
Robert and Laura Morales of Dame Salsa Cubana led a Casino Rueda dance class with a demonstration of this popular dance form for groups of salseros.
Rumbankete, aka “La Maquina del Sabor” delivered a high octane show that featured an international group of talented musicians hailing from Cuba, Venezuela, Colombia, El Salvador, Mexico and the United States. They laid it all out on the following tunes “Cuando Suene,” “De Frente,” “Se Le Fe,” and Rumbankete Viene.”
The Arsenio Rodriguez Project is an All-Star ensemble of today’s top musicians, dedicated to celebrating the
memory and legacy of Arsenio Rodriguez, the Father of Salsa. The band performed superbly a set of Arsenio’s classic song from his extensive catalog of tunes. Their set featured the tunes “Dile a Catalina,” “Sueltala,” “Mami me Gusto,” “Cuarto de Tula,” “72 Hacheros,” “Papa Upa,” “Fuego en el 23,” and “Rhumba.”
Grammy nominated La Charanga Cubana performed charanga rhythms with a generous sprinkling of West coast salsa. They backed the headliner for the Cuban American Music Festival, Yeni Valdes. Yeni Valdes was the first and only vocalist for Los Van Van, the most famous Timba band from Cuba. Yeni Valdes capped off a successful festival. Yeni Valdes thrilled the captivated crowd with a dynamic set of classic hits.
The Cuban American Music Festival was successful on many fronts. Yambu Productions with La Plaza de Cultura Y Artes help to bring back the festival with renewed energy moving forward. The Cuban American Music Festival brought together the Cuban community, at the same time, the festival introduced Angelenos to the vast and rich heritage of Cuban culture, and vibrant Cuban heritage in Greater Los Angeles area.