The Lucas video awards are coming up here in a couple of weeks and you can vote for your favourite video by sending an SMS. Sign of the times. Be interesting to know how many SMSes they’re getting (Dial 8888, and the number of your favourite video. Probably doesn’t work outside of Cuba. Sorry). My TV was missing an antenna so I couldn’t watch much tele for a while; then one of employees at the casa gave me one, so I was hooked up; now it’s been taken off me because family of the landlord has moved into the back apartment. Bet they’re not paying as much rent as I am. If I weren’t leaving on Wednesday I’d kick up a stink but at this point I couldn’t give a shit really.
Still it’s interesting the random stuff you see here: one night on a music show called Cuerda viva - which had among its hosts the MC from CdlM the host who ends every sentence with an upwards inflection? As if it were a question? - I saw Yandy and Rodney Barretto backing an Angelina Jolie-esque singer-pianist on a Brazilian-jazz number. They were miming. She did a bad job of remembering how she had sung on the recording. Pretty though.
It was Marbis’s birthday yesterday. She had mostly the girls from her group around to her place plus a horn player from Adalberto, who I guess is the squeeze of one of the chicas. There was a bit of muso talk. I’d been doing a bit of work which I hope is going to offset some of the trouble I have had here so I was well-knackered and didn’t stay long. I came home and flaked and suddenly it was 6.30 and I realised I was going to miss Combinacion de la Habana if I didn’t hurry. I didn’t feel like going really but, only four more days.
I got ready but didn’t get down there till 7.30 so I missed a good portion of the show - they wrapped up at about 8.15 - including the two new songs I like so much. Bummer. Ricardito turned up again to sing mainly, I suspect, so I could take some pics - he’ll come round any day now to have a look, no doubt. He popped in last week, to check out the last lot of pics I had taken of him. Also to tell me the gossip. The latest was that Dantes is going to leave CH and Calzado has called El Noro to replace him. He said he heard it from a productor of the group (productor is like a kind of manager or something. One thing I do know is that the big bands have way too many of them). Someone later told me that El Noro said himself that Calzado called him up. Of course there are other sources for this as well - there always are; these things spread like wildfire. Doesn’t mean there is any basis at all for it, but it’s highly entertaining nevertheless.
The CdlH gig was a little under-attended. Maybe everyone was out at Alamar seeing Kola Loka. They’re also doing well at Galiano - they’ve have finally moved their regular Tuesday gig to there from Cafe Cantante. Makes sense. Apparently it was packed last week. It means HdP - who also need a bigger room on Tuesdays - can’t take it over, though. (There has been pretty much fuck-all for me at Cantante since I’ve been here - Manana Club have a Thursday residency I think - they’re not bad but not top of my list; Azucar band Fridays. No big timba bands are playing there. Nights I think are mostly empty. I don’t know what’s going on.)
Afterwards I went to the Sevilla to see ECOS, the flamenco crew I had seen at the Gran Teatro a few weeks back. Seems they play at the patio there every Saturday at 9pm for free. It isn’t the full crew, but it’s the two awesome female singers, two guitarists, a cajon player and three dancers on portable wooden flooring. Nice venue, with the moorish tiles and the sky overhead. The singer who had impressed me at the teatro didn’t have the power to conquer in the acoustic setting but the other was sensational, and the dancers were more effective in the intimate scenario. They did two sets over the course of an hour (and they started on time). They didn’t play for long but it was free and I bought a disc, which isn’t a patch on what they are live, but if Marbis’s stories of playing in hotels are the norm (and I imagine they are) they’re probably being paid a very paltry fee (if anything) and certainly deserved something. The waiters hassled a bit to buy drinks or food (I bought a mineral water and sat on it, so they were a bit miffed) and they moved two Cuban guys from a table at the front to one in the corner, even though they bought more drinks than I did. I almost invited them to my spot in the centre of the room, but wasn’t up to the conversation (“where are you from?”).
This is a lovely way to pass an hour on a Saturday night here, especially if you haven’t got the stamina for a 3am finish in one of the Casa de la Musica pits.