Near the end of April I went to Cuba to sing in a concert celebrating
the 40th Anniversary of Casa de las Americas, one of the most important
cultural institutions of Latin America. Casa was founded just after the
triumph of the Cuban revolution by Haydee Santamaria, one of its
heroines, as a place where the artists, writers and musicians of what is
called "nuestra America" could finally receive the respect, dignity and
appreciation they merit.
The concert was held on a stage placed next to the sea, with a big moon
riding above us, and 4-5,000 Cubans in attendance. It was a magical
night, opened by Silvio Rodriguez followed by Angel and Isabel Parra
(the children of Violeta Parra) from Chile. Many of the most-loved
Cuban musicians related to the Nueva Trova movement also participated:
Carlos Varela, Santiago Feliu, Sara Gonzalez, my son Pablo Menendez, and
Other international participants were Daniel Viglietti from Uruguay,
Luis Eduardo Aute and several others from Spain, and Victor Heredia from
Pete Seeger also came from the USA, but arrived a couple of days after
the big concert. I was flying out the day of his concert so I missed
it, but Pete, his wife Toshi and I had a nice breakfast together.
I was accompanied by Pablo and part of his band Mezcla (bassist Jose
Hermida and percussionist David Pimienta) and special guest Robertico
Carcases on keyboards. I wrote a special song for the occasion, "Casa
Viva" with a "Bo Diddley" beat, which is the Cuban clave turned around.
We did the Dylan song "Masters of War" in a heavy metal version with
Pablo's guitar screaming, the bass droning a funeral march and the drums
making war, not rhythm. I liked this better than the way I recorded it
on the Women Strike for Peace album 30 years ago. And we did "Oh
Freedom" with a kind of twist beat, which the Cubans liked a lot.
When I started the Masters of War, a group of Cuban kids ran up to the
front with a large banner saying "Cuba, what are we doing about Kosovo?"
and the audience cheered! (It was just about the only political banner
there, since it was a concert, not a demo.)
The concert will be offered internationaly for sale as a video to raise
money for the archiving work of Casa de las Americas, but I don't know
how soon. It was a marvelous occasion, and I hope lots of people get to
share it that way.
Cuban culture and performing artists website
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