On Tour in NJ, NYC, DC

Just got back from a mini-tour with The Cuban Cowboys, it was rocking! We flew into Nueva Jersey on a Wednesday in January, and we played that night in a little Hoboken bar called Maxwell's. Maxwell's gets it's name because the whole surrounding area was once dominated by the Maxwell's Coffee factory, now converted to luxury condos where we stayed a few nights. The band that opened the show was Del Exilio, a band who's inspiration also comes from the Cuban-American experience. While the show was the least attended of the four, it did rock hard, and it was a great way to get the band warmed up for the rest of the tour.

Thursday from Hoboken we headed the short distance over to Jersey City, where we recorded an in-studio performance on WFMU 91.1 FM radio, with host Rob Weisberg. The show is called Transpacific Sound Paradise, and our set complete with interviews can be heard at http://www.wfmu.org/tsp as soon as it get up there. Later that night we met up with Kelly, la compañera de Raul Navarete, who took us to all her favorite spots on the Lower-East Side of Manhattan. We went to Congee Village for tasty Chinese food, then back to Kelly's apartment with a view and on to Gonzales y Gonzales where a live Salsa band was rocking. After that we headed to Brooklyn where supposedly Antibalas was playing at The Knitting Factory but we discovered that they had cancelled at the last minute. Instead we went to Rose, which was a chill little Brooklyn spot. We met up with Ezra Gale and Brian Lazarus, buddies of ours who had lived in the Bay for a time, and there was a very cool afrobeat-jazz-funk-experimental-electronica band playing for free. Didn't catch their name. We caught a cab back to the Lower-East-Side and crashed out at Kelly's.

Friday was the showcase gig that we came for. Trouble Worldwide (Alex Casazza's booking agency) and Barbes Records put on this showcase for the APAP conference. Chicha Libre, a sort of hipster Cumbia band from Brooklyn, warmed up the stage nicely for us to step up and deliver a compact, rocking set. This was the key gig for APAP so since we rocked it pretty hard we should be working a good amount this upcoming year. After our set was the ridiculously high-energy band Slavic Soul Party, on stage with like 10 horns, accordion, standing percussion, and a big Scottish guy in a kilt rocking the tuba. Afterwards we were talking to Olivier from Barbes Records and Chicha Libre, he sounded enthusiastic about the band since he had seen The Cuban Cowboys with the old East Coast band, and it was clear that we killed them. They gave us their CD "Sonido Amazonico" and also their side project "Las Rubias del Norte" which we listened to on the drive to DC. I gave them all Carne Cruda CDs in return.

We headed back to Kelly's for some late-night chillin' and had to head out in the morning to SIR to return the Toca Percussion gear that Javier had hooked up for the tour through his endorsement with that company. There we met Ayla and The Cowboy and hit the road for Washington DC.

After a pit stop at the Walt Whitman Rest Area on the New Jersey Turnpike, we got in to Washington DC where we had our show at the Kennedy Center. The Millennium Stage there has music 365 days a year for free, broadcast live on the Internet and archived on the Kennedy Center website at: http://kennedy-center.org/explorer/videos/?id=M4091

After the show, which we rocked, Jorge's friend from his high-school days took us out to dinner at a Chinese restaurant on New Hampshire and M, with lots of pictures of politicians up on the wall. He is now a lawyer in the Justice Department, and he showed us where to find some nightlife, which we found but ultimately decided to take it easy for the night. In the morning I got up and wanted to go check for some coffee in Georgetown, where Scully lived, and I found a spot called Baked and Wired. Heading back on the New Jersey Turnpike it was the Woodrow Wilson Rest Area this time, and back in Hoboken before sundown. Headed out to meet Kelly again and picked up some kick-ass donuts just as the spot was closing, and they hooked us up with a bunch extra. Kelly cooked a nice meal and had also invited over some local New York musicians including Gabo Tomasini, the percussionist from the band Bio Ritmo. We went over to Oliva, near Katz' famous deli where a very cool Cuban son quartet was playing. After a bit we headed to catch the Plan B band at a bourgie spot called Flute Champagne Speakeasy. By the time we got there they were on their last song, but it sounded good with a seven-piece horn section. From there we caught the PATH train back to Hoboken where on our walk home we hit up a 24-hour bagel spot. Up early and to the airport we were back in the Yay by 4pm. Another triumphant return.

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