Lead vocalist for Old 97's still dreams of Cuba after returning home

Posted: 09-Mar-16 10:10

Recently back from visiting Cuba, Old 97's frontman Rhett Miller now says he is already making plans to return. Miller was at first somewhat apprehensive about how Cubans would react to his style of music, but says he cannot stop dreaming about the tour, surprised by the impact his music had on those who came out to listen.

Lead vocalist for Old 97's still dreams of Cuba after returning home

Just one month after returning from a trip to Cuba, Old 97’s frontman Rhett Miller is optimistic about what the future holds. Miller recently reflected on his trip to Rachel Sturtz of Billboard magazine, both in his expectations beforehand and how he felt after coming home, as published in the magazine's March 3 online edition.

The singer admits he did not know much about the country before he went. He also says he was nervous about what Cuban crowds would think of him once he started playing. According to Miller:

“I was afraid the audience would leave when they discovered (my) show was just a guy with a guitar. But those who came out to see me wandered up with rapt attention.”

Miller says he believes that Cubans eagerly embrace music because it allows for self-expression and says that is what made the experience of playing in the country so fulfilling.

“Wi-Fi connections are few and far between, and there’s no Netflix yet, so there is so much time for musicians to hone their skills.”

While Miller admits all the music he heard in Cuba didn’t impact him in the same way, he can appreciate where the music comes from.

“I didn’t love every piece of Cuban music I heard, but there’s something essential in their music and rhythm that has a lot in common with bluegrass and the simple structures of old country music—things that I really love. That’s what I won’t be able to shake.”

The Old 97’s played at La Fabrica de Arte Cubano, in the Vedado neighbourhood of Havana, for three nights. For Miller, it was an experience he won’t soon forget.

“I can’t stop having dreams about Cuba, and I have never dreamed so vividly in my life.”

Reflecting upon the long-standing diplomatic and economic strain between the United States and Cuba, Miller told Sturtz,

“Politics around the embargo may not work themselves out overnight, but the human connection may break that barrier sooner.”

Miller went on to tell Sturtz that he’s becoming friends with some Cuban musicians and together they are making plans to collaborate on songs in the future. He also wants to get some Cuban musicians to play alongside him the next time he visits the country.


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