Arts Desk

The Cubans are Coming: Saturday’s Special Latin Music Offerings

Pupy large picSaturday offers a trio of very special choices for fans of Cuban music.  The latest edition of WPFW DJ Jim Byers’ “Metro Mambo” discussion and dance concert series at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum kicks things off in the afternoon with Mimi Machado-Luces, an Afro-Venezuelan Howard University graduate who won an Emmy Award for her 2005 documentary PASOS LATINOS: A 'Mambo-Mentary'. This local filmmaker has interviewed such historic Latin music and dance principals as Cuban Pete Aguilar and Jose Curbelo and made a number of other documentaries, including the 2003 Silver Telly Award winner Cuban Music-Crossing Borders, The Next Generation. There hasn’t been much written about Machado-Luces, so hearing Byers speak to her will provide music and dance fans a seldom-offered opportunity to hear her point of view.  Then D.C.’s own Sin Miedo will offer an hour of salsa music for dancers and listeners.

During the Bush years, Cuban musicians were rarely if ever allowed to come to the US. This Saturday, legendary Cuban musicians will be perform at two locations.  Silvio Rodriguez, longtime folk singer and former member of the Cuban Parliament, will be at D.A.R. Constitution Hall on his first U.S. tour since 1980. He will be trilling nueva trova, an acoustic, often-balladeering style known for its literary lyrics.  Rodriguez, who recently noted that Cuba needs “evolution,” has occasionally gotten political, defending Cuban agents who spied on right-wing Cuban exiles, and condemning the U.S. war in Iraq. Expect most of his songs, though, to be focused on myths, dreams, and love.

Later in the evening, Pupy Pedroso y Los Que Son Son, will be making their first ever D.C. appearance at the Salsa Room (formerly Cecilia’s) in Arlington. This funky salsa, son, and timba ensemble is led by 63-year-old pianist and songwriter Cesar Pupy Pedroso.  Pedroso is best known as a co-founder of Los Van Van, Cuba’s leading state-of-the-art dance band from 1968 to 2001. Los Van Van, who were impressive at Wolf Trap many years back, are still together, but Pupy left in 2001 to form his own band. Pupy’s big band includes a mixture of veteran and young Cuban musicians. Youtube videos often focus on the group’s three singers who alternate lead and backing vocals and do fine choreographed dance moves nonstop. But as fun as those guys are to watch and listen to, it is Pupy’s electric piano, the other keyboard player, the bass, the horns, and of course the percussionists and trap drummer who propel the groove-inducing beat. Timba shares many qualities with salsa and son but it adds a funkier R&B-influenced element to the polyrhythmic mix. Pupy’s New York City shows have received rave reviews, and he reportedly played for three hours in Miami, so this late-night club gig should live up to the hype.

Saturday June 19: “METRO MAMBO," with Jim Byers, Mimi Machado-Luces, and Sin Miedo  ' from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Smithsonian's Anacostia Community Museum, 1901 Fort Place, SE. Free but space is limited, RSVP suggested, at (202) 633-4866.

Silvio Rodriguez at 7:30 at D.A.R. Constitution Hall, 1776 D. St. NW.  $76-$130. (202) 628-4780.

Cesar Pupy Pedroso y Los Que Son Son at 10 p.m. at the Salsa Room, 2619 Columbia Pike Arlington, VA. $30 (tickets are $20 in advance by going to www.tsrtickets.com and using discount code tsrvip). (703) 685-0790

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  • Steve Kiviat

    There's also some other great Latino events this weekend: the DC Salsa Congress with lots of workshops and stuff for salsa dancers is going on at the Crystal City Hilton and on Sunday- El Gran Combo (great salsa band) ; 24 Horas; Grupo Mania; Hector Acosta El Torito; Diana Reyes; Ana Isabel; La Tenchis Celiber; La Máquina de El Salvador; Huey Dunbar(great latin-pop singer from DLG); Omar Enrique; Chino y Nacho at the Montgomery Cty Fairgrounds, Gaithersburg 1-800-321-9437

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