Arts Desk

Salsa Saturday: Fruko y Sus Tesos and Herman Olivera

Herman Olivera

Saturday night offers Latin salsa fans a tough choice—two potentially great shows at the same time. Columbia’s Fruko y Sus Tesos will be at the Salsa Room in Arlington while Puerto Rican vocalist Herman Olivera will be at Zanzibar on the Waterfront. Tuesday night’s gig by N.Y. salsa band La Excelencia at the new Artisphere was  far from packed, but it was advertised largely to an English-language audience. These two events have been promoted to D.C.’s Spanish-speaking audience.  In my experience, that usually translates into larger crowds whose enthusiasm pushes the artists to work harder.

Frukos y Sus Tesos formed in 1970 and were one of a number of Colombian bands from the golden age of salsa on the Disco Fuentes label out of that country. They are led by arranger Julio Ernesto Estrada Rincon, better known as Fruko.  In their early years they featured  fine vocalist Joe Arroyo. While he’s gone from the group, the band continues to tour and some of their prime early material has gotten fresh new attention via Soundways Records reissues. Expect great melodies, booming horns, and catchy cowbell percussion.

Fifty-one-year-old singer Herman Olivera has sung with the likes of salsa greats Manny Oquendo, Johnny Pacheco, Cachao, and Eddie Palmieri.  He’s a true sonero, a salsa vocalist who is able to improvise lyrics. Plus he’s a sharp suit-wearing showman who knows how to dance and move onstage.

Fruko y Sus Tesos at 8 p.m. Saturday October 16 at the Salsa Room, 2619 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA. $30. 703-685-0790

Herman Olivera  at 9 p.m. Saturday October 16 at Zanzibar On the Waterfront, 700 Water Street SW. $30.  202 554-9100

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