viernes, 18 de febrero de 2011

The Blind Boys of the Neighborhood Play Salsa in Havana

The U.S. group Los ciegos del barrio, literally translated as “The Blind Boys of the Neighborhood”, is an incredible multi-genre Latin music group composed of legally blind musicians who delight this week to the public attending the International Book Fair, playing salsa music in Havana.

The group, comprised of five blind young Latino Americans, had its first performance Wednesday night at the House of ALBA (Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas) in the central district of Vedado, very well received by the public.

"We are The Blind Boys of the Neighborhood, that has meaning. The neighborhood is an area of Manhattan, New York, birthplace of the twins Alvin (director) and Derek Smith (vocal), creators of the group in 1997.

"And that of “blind” I don’t know why," joked Machete (keyboards), introducing the band, which also will perform on Saturday at the fortress of San Carlos de la Cabaña, headquarters of the Book Fair.

For nearly two hours, the people danced and sang to the beat of the group, completing Jaime Diaz (guitar, bass and vocals) and Jimmy Fontanez (percussion).

Los Ciegos Del Barrio is an all blind multi-genre Latin American music band, based out of the New York City Tri-State area. They specialize in bachata, merengue, salsa, cumbia, reggaeton, and rock among others in both English and Spanish. They have recorded several albums and singles since they began.

Los Ciegos Del Barrio actually started in 1997, though the members of the group had been performing together well before then. In 1992, before becoming Los Ciegos Del Barrio, most of the current members (Alvin Suarez on drums, Jimmy Fontanez on Congas, Machete on accordion and Derek Suarez on bass) spent some time playing Latin music in Russia with a non profit organization called "Project Troubador". Project Troubador's founder and Artistic Director Eliot Osborn came across the very talented group of friends during his teaching stint at the New York Institute for the Blind, and has since then helped develop the act.

In 1998 they released their first self-titled demo on cassette tape, and in 2000 released their first full length album "No Lo Dude" which features their first underground hit "Dime Donde Estas", their first song to get radio airplay, and also #1 hit on the former website. In 2003 they released "Dominando" which features a bachata version of "I Will Survive." This CD also featured their first Merengue to get radio airplay, "Y Sigues Hablando."

In 2007, Los Ciegos del Barrio's tracks were featured on "Sound in Sight Volume 1", a compilation sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind which features different blind artists from around the US.

Also in December 2009, Los Ciegos released their third album "Por Que? Por Que!" which features the track "Quitate del Medio."

According to local media, " The Blind Boys of the Neighborhood" will be presented on Saturday at the old fort and next Monday at the Pavilion Cuba.

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