A decade ago, when locals Flor De Caña were just getting started, there were several traditional Latin bands. Nowadays, most Latin bands are fusing in other elements like ska, reggae, electronic and hip-hop. Flor De Caña, however, stays true to the sounds of authentic Cuban son and cumbia.
“We’re holding the torch,” says Cuban tres player Ivo Obregon. “This music is in our blood. It’s timeless. We want to make sure that it’s really authentic.”
Most folks are familiar with cumbia, as it’s gotten popular in Mexico and the U.S. in recent years, but it originated in Colombia, which is where Obregon was born. He moved to this country when he was 10.
Son is the precursor to salsa, and was highlighted in the 1999 documentary Buena Vista Social Club. The rhythms of salsa and son are similar, but salsa is more piano- and brass-driven. Flor De Caña plays with acoustic guitars, upright bass, lots of percussion and a trumpet.
It has a core group of six, with just two members born in the U.S.; the others emigrated from Colombia, Mexico and Puerto Rico. They play lesser-known son and cumbia songs, giving them a harder edge, and a heavier percussive beat.
In the last decade, they’ve won fans all over the Bay Area. Most everyone in the band has been listening to and playing this music since they were young children, and it’s apparent in their shows.
“We’re just having fun on stage. That’s what it’s about. That’s what people really like,” Obregon says.
INFO: 9 p.m. Saturday, June 6. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $9/adv, $12/door. 479-1854.