Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Panamanian Minister Of Tourism Will Now Sing For You

It’s not as bad as the title suggests, the current holder of this position in the Panamanian government is Rubén Blades, one of the biggest names in Latin music. He played last night at the Cuartel de Conde Duque in Madrid, and it was obviously casual day for Panama’s politicians as he appeared in t-shirt and combat trousers. Blades has always taken salsa music beyond the purely commercial dance sound, the lyrics of his songs are as important as the music. We had to hear Pedro Navaja, perhaps his best known song and originally inspired by Mack the Knife. Blades showed his humour by joking that he would still be staggering across the stage at the age of 90 singing this song. There were also more serious songs, including one based on the story of Oscar Romero.

I might not like his music quite as much as that of the Brazilian Minister of Culture, but it was a fine show and will probably be my last time at one of my favourite venues for live music. Since I arrived in Madrid, July has meant concerts in Conde Duque but now the place will be closed for rehabilitation work. Also attending last nights concert was the Cuban musician Eliades Ochoa, who will be doing his now traditional August concerts at the Clamores jazz club next week. Recommended.

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