The folks over at San Francisco International Arts Festival have been using us for a while to ticket their events and they’ve always set a very high bar for great international productions. They’re gearing up for their 8th Annual Gathering here in May and they have a very special Pre-Festival Gala in store for San Francisco audiences.
On April 4th and 5th they are bring over the “reigning regents of rumba,” the legendary Cuban ensemble Los Munequitos de Matanzas . The ensemble was formed in 1952 in Barrio Marina in Matanzas, Cuba and the story goes that the ensemble formed when a group of youths began playing along to the rhythms of legendary Cuban band leader Arsenio Rodriguez using dishes and bottles. After that initial, inspirational spark they decided to form a group to play the local fiestas and barrio dances with a focus on the rumba rhythm. They recorded their first record in 1953 under the name Guaguanco Matancero but people began calling them Los Munequitos de Matanzas after the last track on that record “Los Munequitos En La Calle” which dealt with characters from Cuban comic strips.
Now, fifty-nine years later, the group still performs all over the world and this very special two-night appearance marks their triumphant return to the U.S. after a nine-year absence due to Bush-era policy that kept Cuban artists from receiving visas to perform in the United States. Their last San Francisco appearance back in 1992 has gone down as a legendary night for all lovers of the rumba and Cuban music in general.
Prepare for a high energy evening that will take you through 500 years of drumming, chanting and dance; a performance that will demonstrate the profound influence the African diaspora had on Cuban culture. For this show, “Tambor De Fuego” the group will perform work from their latest recording, tributes to legendary members and new pieces created especially for this highly anticipated tour. According to their press sheet: “In one evening’s concert, Los Munequitos may play the rhythms and drumming of the Santeria religion which originated with the Yoruba tribe; the songs of the Abakua, a secret fraternal organization originally from Nigeria; and contemporary Cuban rumba in its varied and ever evolving forms.” Tickets for the Pre-Festival Gala are available here.
Be sure to check out the great performances San Francisco International Arts Festival has coming up in May for their 8th Annual Gathering as well. More information can be found here.