Sunday, February 5, 2012

Del Sur: Saturday Night Live!

Great news! The new Latin band called Del Sur is going to be performing on the first Saturday of every month at the Iron Post!

We were there Saturday night and had a terrific time. The band includes four very professional, very talented musicians with a great deal of passion for the music they play.

The tunes are taken from all over Latin America and represent a wide range of musical types. There is Andean music from Bolivia and Peru with the haunting sounds of the pan flute, reminiscent of the song "El Condor Passa" that so intrigued the popular musician Paul Simon some time back.

There are lively Caribbean tunes from the Dominican Republic, with lots of bongo and conga beats.

Then the Columbian cumbias come along, with good sounds for dancing, and the crowd at the Post responds warmly, with dozens of lovely ladies (and a few gents) gyrating to the beat.

This week a guest performer did two numbers as well. I don't know his name (maybe Eduardo can provide it in a comment here?), but he is a singer and guitarist from Argentina. What an incredible voice! It reminded me of the story of how Andrea Boccelli was singing in a small Tuscan bar when Pavarotti first heard him.

The four regular band members are all wonderfully gifted musicians who all sing as well as play any number of instruments. This time, we enjoyed Eduardo's guitar playing, but also the charanga (a small stringed-instrument a bit like a Spanish lute) and the bongos. He had something that looked like a small football that was "scratched" with a stick to make for interesting percussion. Sorry I don't know much about the actual names of these fascinating ethnic musical instruments.

Alex is a virtuoso with the flutes, switching in an instant from one pan flute to another with a different pitch, as well as two wooden record-type flutes. He has a "shaker" made of shells (?) and uses a drum too.

Ian had two congas with him and also played bongos, several different maracas (big round gourd-like things with musical sounds inside when shaken), a long stick-like instrument that was grated against, the drum that he shares with Alex (and sometimes hits with the maraca and a scarf on top to adjust the sound), and a very long flute.

Julian has his guitar and his very mellifluous voice. I'm not sure if that's the right word, but his singing is so smooth and melodious, like honey.

They are expanding their repertoire on this their second performance and also getting bolder with their performance, putting a terrific amount of energy, charisma, and passion into their singing and playing. And the audience loved it.

The dancers were unwilling to quit and called for more and more "encores" or, in Spanish, "otras".

It's such fun to see what a mix of folks show up for this kind of music and love to dance. Often, Eduardo would ask "Is there anybody here from ... Ecuador? the Dominican Republic? Argentina?" and there always was a shout from somewhere in the audience. It's such a delight that Champaign-Urbana is so blessed with people from all over the globe.

The dancers are not just young women either--there are women and girls of all ages (and a few guys as well) and they seem to really get into it! The room wasn't heated all that much and was a bit chilly at the start of the first set, but by the time more people showed up and lots of them were dancing, it was hot! Many dancers were sweating even.

A few other musicians came to enjoy the show as well. I saw Adam Walton the conga player, as well as Rick Deja the flute and saxophonist and Dave Cubberly, both from Bate Calado.

Del Sur, as Eduardo explained, means "from the South" and the group presents an excellent opportunity to learn something about a wide range of South American music, both folkloric music and popular music. The ethnic instruments (and Alex's ethnic shirt with the beautiful embroidery) -- and all the Spanish being spoken in the audience as well as on stage -- combine to create a very South American atmosphere.

The group played from 6 to 9 and will be there again the first Saturday of each month. In addition, we were delighted to see that Desafinado and Bate Calado, Brazilian bands par excellence, were slated to appear at the Iron Post too.

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