British Culture Week comes to Havana …with a bit of Sting
Having officially kicked off last Sunday and extending all the way until next Sunday 11th October, Havana is now celebrating British culture with a week-long series of events that range from cinema screenings and theatre plays, to sporting events and music performances (including a very special concert by Sting’s guitarist, Dominic Miller) and a theatrical tribute to the life of Freddy Mercury.
The highlight of this celebration of all things British in the city is undoubtedly Dominic Miller’s concert which will take place tonight at 11 p.m. at the Fabrica de Arte Cubano’s Nave 4. The concert will be preceded by the screening of a documentary on British music shown at the same place but in a different room (Nave 3) at 8 p.m. and followed by a series of films about the UK, which will be screened from 12 a.m. onwards at the very same room.
What’s hot in Havana’s music scene this week
I already mentioned that the week’s most exciting performance (for Cubans at least) is Dominic Miller’s concert at Fabrica de Arte Cubano. But if you’re heading to Cuba on holiday this week or are already there and the thought of attending the performance of a British musician that you can see back home (or who you have already seen perform) doesn’t excite you much (unless of course you’re a die-hard fan of Sting, their music or its guitarist) here I bring you alternative music shows to attend this Thursday night if you’re in Havana Havana. Read on to find out more.
Thursday 8th October
If you fancy checking out Cuba’s non-mainstream trove music scene than Ray Fernandez’ concert is the perfect performance to attend this afternoon at 5 p.m. at the Bar Diablo Tun Tun in the Casa de la Musica de Miramar. You’ll definitely enjoy the melodic stylings of this self-made troubadour and composer as you get a fuller taste of authentic Cuba.
Later on, for a spot of dancing you could head back to the very same place at 11 p.m. to enjoy a live performance by legendary Grammy-winning composer and accompanying salsa group Jose Luis Cortes y NG La Banda. And for tonight, that’s a wrap!
Friday 9th October – an open-air concert to remember
German countertenor, Andreas Schooll will be in Havana this Friday to perform at the Teatro Marti for a very special one-off concert. This performance officially closes the curtain of the Festival Les Voix Humaines that I raved about on last week’s cultural calendar and kicks off at 8.30 p.m.
On that very same day and for a completely different musical experience (albeit an exceedingly good one) award-winning pianists Lang Lang and Chucho Valdes will be offering another concert in the capital. This joint concert by these two highly accomplished artists will be an open-air treat right on Havana’s Cathedral Square, promising a truly special acoustic outdoor experience. I wouldn’t miss it, if only I was there to catch it!
If you’re in the mood for partying and dancing after this, Jose Luis Cortes y NG LA Banda will be performing their sultry salsa melodies again tonight at the Casa de la Musica in Miramar.
Saturday 10th October - salsa night or LGBT fun? You decide!
The start of the weekend doesn’t bring as much excitement in the way of exceptional music as the previous days in this week but that’s not to say there’s nowhere to go to have a good time and dance the night away.
Maykel Blanco Y Su Salsa Mayor will be treating salsa dancers to some good tunes at the Casa de la Musica in Miramar at 11 p.m. so head there to finish your night off on a dancing high.
Alternatively if you’re up for a bit of queer fun head to Proyecto Divino at the Café Cantante Mi Habana next to the Revolution Square and enjoy a night of frivolous LGBT fun. It starts at 11 p.m. and goes on until the early hours.
Sunday 11th October – Don’t miss Los Van Van!
If you fancy a bit of early afternoon rock to while away some after-lunch hours during your time in the capital head to Submarino Amarillo in Vedado (next to the John Lennon Park) to catch a live performance of Havana rock cover band, Los Kents, performing famous quality rock tunes while you down a few (excellently priced ) drinks.
And if you thought that would be all for Sunday, well I’m here to excite you with one of the best picks of the week, certainly the best in terms of salsa performances as it’s a one-off you won’t see repeated very often.
Grammy-winning salsa group and Cuba’s most beloved and internationally recognised salsa band, Los Van Van will give a very special concert at Salon Rosado Benny More in La Tropical. It starts at 4 p.m. so make sure you get there in time to enjoy a quality performance by an iconic band that would otherwise be very hard to catch!
Monday – the slowest day but there’s always something!
To kick your day out early head to the Casa de La Musica in Miramar first to enjoy a good energetic salsa performance by Wil Campa. You won’t help but at least tap your feet under the table but most can’t resist the urge to get up and give a twirl or two.
Tuesday 13th October – take your pick!
Today you have quite an array of performances to choose from in order to enliven your evening.
You can start things off early and head to the Café Cantante Mi Habana at 5 p.m. to enjoy a performance by Raul Paz, otherwise known as the “French Cuban” that revolutionised the nation’s music scene in the 21st century with his fusion music.
Bring your night entertainment to a close with an energetic salsa concert by Pedrito Calvo y La Justicia performing at Casa de la Musica in Miramar at 11 p.m.
Wednesday 14th October – your date with Jazz and fusion Cuban music
Wednesday seems to be Havana Jazz day this week as you can choose from two excellent performances on this day. The earliest of these takes place at the Jazz Café at the hands of soulful jazzist and vocalist Zule Guerra whose performance will kick off at 11 p.m.
The highlight of the day though today comes in the form of fusion Cuban music and this soulful music genre will have you bopping along with Roberto Carcasses & Interactivo at the Centro Cultural Bertolt Brecht. Loved by young Cuban crowds, these infectious good tunes will make for a wonderful finishing touch to your evening.
Celebrating Cuban culture in Camaguey
This week Camaguey starts celebrating La Jornada de la Cultura Cubana (Cuban Culture Fest) and it all kicks off on Saturday 10th October with a big opening gala at the centric Parque Agramonte. Be there at 8 p.m. to enjoy a presentation by Camaguey’s prestigious ballet company (Ballet de Camaguey), a performance by the city’s professional chorus as well from other musicians including the band Los Agramontinos and the Cuarteto Matices.
Also in Camaguey, if you happen to be there around this week and are interested in the arts, an exhibition called Mis Colores Favoritos (My Favourite Colours) by local artist Joaquin Aguero will be on show at the Casa de La Cultura all throughout this month. The exhibition opens every day at 9 a.m. and is dedicated to the 120th anniversary of Fidelo Ponce de Leon.
And if you’re in the mood for enjoying some good local tunes during your time in Camaguey then head to the Casa de la Trova Patricio Ballagas today (Thursday 8 October) at 10 p.m. to enjoy the traditional music stylings of Simon Roberto, Candita Batista and the Mokekere group.
Lastly, if you want to get introduced to Camaguey’s theatrical dance company La Andariega your chance to do so comes this Friday 9th October or Saturday 10th October. On both days at 8.30 p.m. the dance company will be staging a show at the city’s Teatro Principal.
Santiago de Cuba and Granma - Buena Fe in concert
The popular Cuban music group, Buena Fe will be hosting a series of concerts this week in Cuba's most famous eastern province and its westernmost neighbour. As part of their national tour they'll be staging various concerts in Santiago from 9th to 15th October and later on in Granma from 16th to 21st October.