Sunday arrived and the sun came out. I put a chair onto the balcony and basked in the glow. The fact that I stayed there for the better part of an hour tells you how grim the weather is here - I should have been scurrying in to the shade inside of 10 minutes.
I had reluctantly bailed on Reve at Galiano the night before and thought I’d nurse my flu some more, rather than venture into the urban wilderness of the Los Jardines de la Polar for the Pupy matinee. If I suddenly felt like shite and wanted to go home I didn’t want to be stuck at the arse end of Marianao.
There was a light sprinkle of rain in the afternoon but when Duni and his bro finally dropped around about 8, he said it rained a lot more in Marianao and the set was interrupted three times before they gave up. Probably not a bad one to miss. They’re playing a Wednesday matinee at Miramar, which is a bummer, cause Reve have one the same day at La Palacio, but if it goes late, I might be able to do both.
We watched a dance competition show on TV that Los que Son Son had recorded so long ago Michel was still with the group. Noro sang Ni bombones ni caramelos. That was kinda sad.
I’d organised a ride with Uyuni, who used to play trumpet with Pupy and now plays with HdP, out to Miramar, cause he lives right nearby and has mad wheels. He arrived at 12 on the dot, as arranged, and we drove to Vedado to pick up the pianist Tony and tecladista Harold. Uyuni was playing some CD - I couldn’t for the life of me work out who he said it was, but the singer sounded a lot like Calunga (but wasn’t) and there was a version of Reve’s Open the Door on it. Will get more details.
Things were excruciating at Miramar as you’d expect - horrible lighting and reggaeton for the entire time until the band came on.
They began with Solo para ti, which they always used to begin the set with when I first started seeing them in 2008. The horns were pretty ragged. I wondered if Uyuni had actually ever played it before. Nice song though. Good to hear it again.
Being a night gig, things were much more sedate than the previous Tuesday. But I wasn’t on my own down the front for very long. I’ve only ever been to one gig where Alexander couldn’t get people up dancing (he came off fuming, I recall).
They did a Latin jazz number - maybe in preparation for the Peru trip, I dunno. It was all right. It wasn’t a highlight or anything, but it was OK.
The great thing about going with Uyuni is that he wanted to leave immediately the band had finished. How awesome. The guirero, Yannell (I think), who I have never met before, joined us. He lives round the corner from down near San Lazaro somewhere.
• • •
So it seems Trabuco have two regular weekly gigs here now - Cafe Cantante on Thursday and Galiano on Monday (both matinees). The Cafe is 100MN and Galiano is 50MN (both are $10 for foreigners). That’s quite interesting. I guess as Galiano is bigger, and they always fill El Cafe anyway, they have decided to make the former cheaper. It works: both are full. I like Galiano better. Maybe the sound isn’t always good (it isn’t always good at El Cafe either) but at least if you arrive late you can still amble down the front and get a spot at the side.
I had dilly-dallyed and debated whether to go or not before telling myself oh for fuck’s sake, and getting off the bed and heading off at a brisk pace down San Miguel. It was 7.30pm when I got there and so quiet outside I thought maybe it was suspendido but actually the gig was just mid-stride and everyone was guarachando. Got there just in time for the Mayami slow funk-ish number which is my favourite of the new compositions. All right, there isn’t a whole lot of competition from my perspective, but I do like it a lot. I videoed it, but sometimes my trusty little Fujifilm 40d flakes out on me audiowise, and sadly this was one of those times. Will try again next week. Although it was far from tropical outside, it was the first time Mayami had performed without a scarf and blazer. His left hand was in plaster up to the pinky. The mind boggles.
The set isn’t varying much due, I’m assuming, to Andy’s limited familiarity with the Trabuco set, but this week they did the son 72 hacheros pa un palo with Pepitin on lead. Had a lovely almost classical solo from Manolito in it. He’s been getting down with the flourishes lately, but thankfully there was a lot less Stairway to Heaven in this one than there had been in the others. Looked like Andy was playing this for the first time - he was getting lots of signals from the conguero, Evelio (?).
Musica cubana sounded great, then just as it was taking off - you know that bit, the piano is carouselling, and the singers are rollcalling all the groups and then !dale calabaza al pollo! and it goes into some bloques with the horns, and it’s about to take you even higher and … instead, it all died away into silence, and they started playing La noche instead. Never has a coitus been more cruelly interruptussed. Jesus it was cold.
When Control played, I went for a walk. There was an old guy asleep in a chair on the mezzanine. I thought briefly about joining him. Someone asked me where my boyfriend was. They were referring to Jelien, who they had seen me talking to the previous Thursday at Cafe Cantante. Note: talking. Not kissing; not hugging; not dry-humping. He was only the first person to ask me this question. By the weekend I’ll probably be fucking married to him. (I hope we have a great reception. Someone please let me know how it went.)
• • •
Tuesday me and Masaco had arranged to go to the international artesan fair at PabExpo. Actually we had arranged to go on Monday, but big waves (3-4 metres) were predicted for the bay and she lives in Vedado, she spent the day moving furniture to the upper floor.
I woke with some lame stomach thing to add to my woes so we hung around waiting for that to pass then headed out there about 4. Not really early enough - there are apparently 300 stalls of stuff, mostly from Cuba but also from Colombia, Guatemala, Peru and so on.
There was some ordinary stuff and some really great stuff. Some lovely silver sculptures (in the vicinity of $5000 CUC and an elaborate statue of Caridad made of seashells (also $5000). There was furniture and trickets. A guy from Colombia had really great jewellery - mostly silver, paua and coral but all beautifully designed by him and his wife. Too bad I already have a lot of great stuff. Still bought a piece. And earrings for my mum.
I dropped Masaco off at La Tropical for some Cubadisco announcement (still don’t know what that was) and I went home and crashed on the bed before hauling myself up and back out west to Miramar for the Havana D’Primera matinee.
I’d missed Resumen de los 90 but better late than … I can’t be bothered to finish that cliche.
The place was totally full again. I’d thought (hoped) that without the fuckload of Fins it might be less crowded. In vain, it seems. There was really nowhere to stand but you know it’s HdP and Alexander is so captivating - he gives so much it seems churlish to ignore it.
For the first time this trip they did Cosas de un amigo - one of my very favourites, and I got a shout-out - on my own too, not in a big list. Woohoo! I think he was surprised to see me cause I’d arrived late.
My mate Yarima, who is over here from Sydney, was in the middle in the midst of writhing bodies and waving limbs, having the time of her life.
It was all good. It always with Alexander.
He said something about them playing with Reve on December 25 at La Tropical but then he said, Salon Rojo. When someone in the audience corrected him, he said “Salon Rosado?” and Jannier rolled his eyes, but now I am none the wiser as to the venue. Whatever. My two favourite bands on the same bill. Hope it happens; don’t care where. Fucking awesome Christmas present man.
• • •
Wednesday held the promise of a Pupy matinee at Miramar with a late matinee with Reve at Palacio. I had a Spanish class at 1, but I had woken with a headache and as the day progressed into regrettably grew into a migraine. By 7 - matinee time - I was riven with nausea and pain and lying in a darkened room drugged to the eyeballs and feeling very sorry for myself indeed.
I had the blanket and bedspread doubled and two shawls over me and I was still cold. Got down to 13C in Havana and 1.9C in Matanzas apparently. I might mug a Cuban for a puffy jacket if this keeps up.
The reports were that the Pupy matinee was packed, and Pepito got up and sang. :( Reve was fun as well, I was told. That’s hardly surprising. Sigh.