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Buena Vista Social Club PDF
Saturday, 16 October 2010 00:00

It's 13 years since the Buena Vista Social Club burst unexpectedly onto the World Music scene. Boosted by German director Wim Wenders' Oscar-nominated documentary film of the same name, this group of some 20 Cuban musicians gained unprecedented success at the turn of the century.


The Buena Vista Social Club, a bunch of Cuban old-timers, assembled by US singer-guitarist Ry Cooder, after he discovered veteran singers and musicians down-on-their-luck in the Communist Caribbean island, sold more than five million copies of their eponymous debut album which also won a Grammy Award in 1998.

The group played some of the world's top venues in quick succession, including Amsterdam, New York and London.  Performances in other US venues proved problematic, however, because of anti-Cuban feeling as a result of the US embargo.  There were riots in some southern cities and some concerts were cancelled.

With such a punishing schedule, or perhaps because of their age, the big names started dropping like flies.  First of all, Compay Segundo (aged 95) and Rubén González (84) in 2003 and Ibrahím Ferrer (78) in 2005.

I was introduced to the band's music in 1998 by a friend who loaned me their debut album.  Enchanted by songs like Chan Chan and Dos Gardenias, I bought my own copy, then got to see the band perform live three times in the next couple of years, twice in London and once in Manchester.

Unfortunately, my friend passed by shortly after, but the Buena Vista Social Club are very much still with me and an important part of my musical history.


A quirky album entitled Rhythms del Mundo: Cuba, released in November 2006, featured members of the BVSC, including Ibrahim Ferrer, Orlando "Cachaito" Lopez, Barbarito Torres, Amadito Valdés and Omara Portuondo, performing alongside Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, Dido, Quincy Jones, Kaiser Chiefs, Radiohead, U2 and Jack Johnson.

©  Paul Whitelock


See also:

Entrevista con Carlos Santana


If Wolves Could Speak ...

Tags: Buena Vista Social Club, World Music, Wim Wenders, Ry Cooder, Grammy Award, Compay Segundo, Rubén González, Ibrahím Ferrer, Chan Chan, Dos Gardenias, Rhythms del Mundo: Cuba, Orlando Cachaito Lopez, Barbarito Torres, Amadito Valdés, Omara Portuondo, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, Dido, Quincy Jones, Kaiser Chiefs, Radiohead, U2, Jack Johnson, Paul Whitelock,


Paul Whitelock

Paul is a Joint Honours graduate in Spanish and German, a qualified teacher (PGCE) and has a Member of the Institute of Linguists (MIL) qualification.

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