As we all know by now, the situation in the U.S territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands is a horrific nightmare. The majority of both islands do not have power still after a month. There is a severe shortage of clean drinking water. Life and death among Americans – the richest country in the world – and pathetic doesn’t begin to describe it. There are a lot of organizations and philanthropists pitching in, but there is so much need.
Recently I saw the PBS special “Latin Music USA!” It was a great series on the origins and influences of the diverse styles of Latin Music in the United States. The episodes covering New York City had me reminiscing about my time living there in the late 90s. When I moved there for graduate school, it was an awesome culture shock for this California girl. To be dropped into Washington Heights (Quisqueya Heights) was a mind bending experience. I started a sonic journey into the music of Nueva York fueled by a desire to learn more about my own Latin heritage as well as love of culture and of my Caribbean brothers and sisters.
I love to dance so I hit up everywhere from Copacabana and Latin Quarters to the down home clubs in the Boogie Down Bronx and Brooklyn. I saw some amazing bands play live including El Gran Combo De Puerto Rico and Marc Anthony. He hadn’t yet hit the mainstream audiences, but was selling out clubs performing salsa music. Anyhow, I can’t even begin to do justice to the enormity of the music which has come out of New York; all I can do is try to capture a slice of the New York I experienced, the one that lives in my memory.
So I had “Calle Luna Calle Sol” by Willie Colon song & Hector Lavoe but that video was removed from youtube. So here is another from that dynamic salsa duo from the mid 70s. This style of salsa dura chronicled street life and social problems found in the inner cities as well as just plain stories about the beautiful dances and music of the land of our people like this one “La Murga De Panana”: