Traditional Cuban music and rhythms take the stage in the Ottawa Valley.
Six Cuban musicians who play traditional music from southern Cuban are bringing their sounds to the Ottawa Valley in July.
Their band is called Manacanabo, and although they play all kinds of Cuban music, they have focused on playing and promoting traditional music from their part of the Island for 25 years, based on the driving, syncopated rhythm known as son. They are coming to Canada on a cultural exchange tour organized by Stone Fence Theatre producer Ish Theilheimer, who met the band while on tour of southern Cuba outside the 500-year-old city of Trinidad two years ago. Theilheimer, travelling by bike with a mandolin strapped on the back, stopped and jammed with the band at the restaurant where they were playing at lunchtime. He struck up a friendship with band member Edris Padron Carmona, who plays the uniquely Cuban instrument called tres and who speaks English well.
"I'm very proud of what I do," Padron Carmona told Theilheimer in an interview posted on Youtube . "I play the tres, which is a very Cuban instrument and an instrument I love a lot. I learned it from my grandfather." The tres looks like a guitar, but it has three pairs of strings and plays both melodies and chords.
The tour, which includes a gala performance in Rankin for Stone Fence Theatre, as well as shows and performances in Wilno, Maynooth, Renfrew, Cobden, Westport, and Ottawa, is a result of that meet-up.
"It has taken a lot of doing," says Theilheimer, "But people are going to love their music and their charm." The gala will be co-hosted by Stone Fence Theatre's own Fran Pinkerton, who has spent a lot of time in Cuba and who can help everyone learn salsa dancing.
The members of Manacanabo will be eager to help you learn too. They'll also introduce you to the rhythms of Cuba.
You can buy tickets for the gala with Manacanabo show in Rankin here. For information on other tour dates, please go here. For shows in Wilno, Maynooth, Cobden, Renfrew, Westport, Merrickville, and Ottawa, go here.
"All proceeds of the tour are going home to the families of the group members," stresses Theilheimer, who has worked with his wife Kathy Eisner to organize the tour. "They're great musicians and good people, and, like all Cubans, they have very little money and life is tough, so we wanted to help them."