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Review and photos by Mary AndrewsLa Santa Cecilia are not strangers to Tucson, AZ. A packed house at Hotel Congress was present to greet the band after a year's absence. This Latin-American fusion band has risen from being street performers in Los Angeles to playing festivals like Bonnaroo and New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival last year. There is little wonder for their success as the Grammy winning band has boundless talent and energy.
Marisol "La Marisoul" Hernandez, the lead singer, has said in previous interviews that the band loves being on the road. They are thankful for being able to make a living doing what they love to do. She had her first baby three months ago and it did not seem unusual to get back on the road two months after having her child. Some things on the road have changed like going back to the hotel room right after the show instead of partying with the band and fans. The bottom line is that both having a baby and touring are both very important to Marisol.
The tour is supporting their new album, Buenaventura, which was released in February this year. Two singles are from the album, "I Won't Cry For You" and "Nunca Mas (Never Again)." Both songs were performed during this show along with four other selections from the new record.
The opening act was a Tucson local band, Santa Pachita. This was a large band that filled up the small Hotel Congress stage with eight musicians. This band must be added to Tucson's wealth of excellent Latino musicians and bands. Santa Pachita was an outstanding opener that got the crowd prepared for La Santa Cecilia.
Marisol stepped on the stage dressed in a hoop skirt made of traditional Hispanic textiles of bright, vibrant colors. She has many accessories of multiple bracelets, hair berets, neck-kerchiefs, retro black glasses adorned with rhinestones, and a wide teal belt. Everything was coordinated to lift the mood and awaken the senses. The upbeat and "Monedita" was the first song. It was a sung in Spanish and it was about how material things do not bring happiness. Ms. Hernandez vocals were strong, energetic and pitch-perfect. Jose Carlos' accordion kept the celebratory mood heightened. The crowd was immediately entranced!
Much of the music was in Spanish with some English interspersed during the introductions. Sometimes there was English and Spanish in the same sentence by Marisol. The music and musicianship of the band made this detail seem unimportant. However, there is a message of a sympathetic portrait of Latino immigrants living in fear of deportation in many of their songs. The band members have had personal experience being from immigrant families, including some relatives who, for a time, were in the United States illegally.
All band members were obviously veteran musicians. They are in their thirties, but they have been making their music since they were youngsters. Jose Carlos displayed his accordion and requinto guitar expertise on several occasions during the set. Miguel "OSO" Ramirez held up the percussion in the band and Alex Bendana furnished awesome bass. Marco Sandoval proved himself to be a fretboard maestro with many fine guitar solos! Eric Kern was the great touring drummer who kept the band on time and together.
Marisol Hernandez is the centerpiece of the band. The power and range of her vocals are unparalleled and seem effortless. The closest comparison would be to Linda Ronstadt, but that comparison hits only a small portion of Marisol's delivery. Ms. Hernandez is original and that is what makes her so compelling. Her interpretation of the Beatles' "Strawberry Fields Forever" was brilliant!
La Santa Cecilia's love of the music and performance instantly permeates the crowd. They gave a positive message and encouraged people to get out and vote. The tour will continue through April and beyond. Catch this fun show!
2. 30 días
3. En fin
5. Sacudo la pereza
8. Nunca mÿs
9. Como Dios mandas
11. La negra
12. Ven a mis brazos
13. Pa' que trabajar
15. Strawberry Fields Forever (The Beatles cover)
17. Amar y vivir
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