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The legends of Cuban music, Buena Vista Social Club, will headline the Sligo Live festival this October Bank Holiday weekend. Their 1997 album sold in excess of 5 million copies, placing them among the world’s best known roots performers. The film of the same name was nominated for an Oscar and the group went on to share their infectious rhythms and sunny joyous Caribbean sounds with adoring audiences all over the world.

The band are named after the Buena Vista Social Club which was a members club in Havana that held dances and musical activities, becoming a popular location for musicians to meet and play during the 1940s. In the 1990s, nearly 40 years after the club was closed, it inspired a recording made by American guitarist Ry Cooder with traditional Cuban musicians, some of whom were veteran performers at the club during the height of its popularity.

They went to Havana and assembled the best traditional musicians in Cuba to make an album of Son music, which had not been exposed internationally since pre-revolutionary days. Many of these musicians had been forgotten and some had even given up playing.

The recording became an international success, and the ensemble performed with a full line-up in Amsterdam in 1998. German director, Wim Wenders captured the performance on film, followed by a second concert in Carnegie Hall, New York City for a documentary that included interviews with the musicians conducted in Havana. Wenders’s film, also called Buena Vista Social Club, was released to critical acclaim, receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary feature and winning numerous accolades including Best Documentary at the European Film Awards.

The success of both the album and film sparked a revival of international interest in traditional Cuban music and Latin American music in general. Some of the Cuban performers later released well-received solo albums and recorded collaborations with international stars from different musical genres. The “Buena Vista Social Club” name became an umbrella term to describe these performances and releases. The new success was fleeting for some of the artists in the ensemble, six of whom, including Compay Segundo, Rubén González, and Ibrahim Ferrer, have since died

The 12 piece band feature male and female vocalists, strong brass and rhythm sections and the results are guaranteed to keep you on your feet. Of the original 20 participants, Guajiro Mirabel (trumpet), Cachito Lopez (Double Bass), Manual Galban (Guitar) and Aquaje Ramos (Trombone) together with Barbarito Torres (Laud) are with the band. On vocals is Idrania Valdes, daughter of the legendary Amadito Valdes. They have, over the years, been joined by Carlos Calunga on Vocals, Angel Terry (Congas), Filberto Sanchez (Timbales and Bongos), pianist Rolande Luna, Luis Alemany on trumpet and Raul Nacianceno who plays Clarinet, Flute and Sax.

Sharing the bill with the Buena Vista Social Club on Sunday night are the freshest new sound in Irish music, At First Light. Their line up speaks for itself: Dónal O’Connor (Fiddle, Keyboards), John McSherry (Uilleann Pipes, Low Whistles), Francis McIlduff (Bodhrán, Uilleann Pipes, Low Whistles), Alan Burke (Guitar, Vocals) and from Asturia in Northern Spain Rubén Bada (Bouzouki, Guitar, Fiddle). McSherry and O’Connor’s album ‘Tripswitch’ was universally acclaimed and was many critics album of the year. The haunting interplay of John and Francis on pipes or low whistles is sure to put your hair on end. Sligo Live are fortunate to have the opportunity to showcase the contrasting rhythmic styles of Cuban and Irish traditional music with a pinch of Asturian to bridge the gap in what promises to be a unique night of exciting music.

Tickets for the concert in the Sligo Radisson SAS on Bank Holiday Sunday, October 28th will go on sale during September. See for details of this and the other amazing gigs in a weekend of music and fun in Sligo. Register your interest in this once in a lifetime event at to secure pre-release tickets for this and the other events at Sligo Live.

See for the exciting and dynamic programme which will feature a host of Irish and International musicians in concert, sessions, street entertainment, festival club with roots/reggae/world music, the Fiddler of Dooney competition. The most intimate and friendly music event of the autumn. Make a date! Sligo Live.

Permalink - Posted: August 15, 2007 at 11:26 am