Cuban singer Adonis Puentes has double incentive to celebrate

IN CONCERT

What: Adonis Puentes & the Voice of Cuba Orchestra
Where: Capital Ballroom, 858 Yates Street
When: Thursday, March 29, at 8 p.m
Tickets: $25 at door

An epic night of Cuban music and dancing is planned for the Capital Ballroom on March 29, celebrating the CD release of Dicen by Adonis Puentes, one of Canada’s leading traditional Cuban singers.

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“It’s going to be one of those nights you can’t repeat — one of those nights you cannot buy,” said Puentes, who will perform with his all-star Voice of Cuba Orchestra.

The Havana-born performer, who immigrated to Victoria in 1998, also celebrates his 44th birthday that day.

“It’s one of these gifts of the universe,” Puentes said. “It’s my birthday and I’m releasing this great record.”

Despite being based in Victoria, where he revels in the West Coast calm to do his writing, Puentes is often on the road performing in festivals around the world.

“It’s definitely going to be quite a night,” Puentes said. “Not often do I get the opportunity to play in Victoria. I go down south a lot, Latin America a little bit, a little bit to Asia, so this is something nice.”

Puentes brings to his latest CD deep seductive rhythms and the kind of production that is cultivated over decades, not years. The lyrics bear witness to the elation and sorrow embedded in the human experience.

“Music is my passion, it’s very important to me, and over time you get good at it,” he said.

“Doing music is doing yourself. You have to look inside and you have to find your best self, and be honest knowing your strongest and weakest parts and work on that,” he said.

Puentes’ music is rooted in family and culture. He visits his parents in Cuba at least once a year.

He says his father is his inspiration and “my mother the force behind all Puentes.”

Puentes’ father still performs, having taken the stage with his sons. His family home in Cuba, always full of music and guests, is he says, “a university of music, so much I learned there.”

Puentes found success 17 years ago alongside his twin brother, Alexis, who now performs as Alex Cuba. The pair, born and raised in Artemisa, a tiny community south of Havana, earned a Juno Award nomination in 2001 for their debut as the Puentes Brothers, Morumba Cubana.

Adonis Puentes started his solo career in 2004. He has continued his awards-show streak in the years since. He sang on a Latin Grammy-nominated recording by Orestes Vilató, the former percussionist for Carlos Santana, and was nominated for a Grammy Award for his contributions to Jose Rizo’s Mongorama. Puentes’ Sabor a Café was nominated as World Music Album Of The Year at the 2014 Juno Awards.

It was during a cross-Canada tour and at the Pan-American Games in Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto that Adonis was called upon by Salsa great Oscar Hernandez to sing with his Grammy-winning Spanish Harlem Orchestra.

“I was at the right place at the right time,” Puentes said.

That experience, before a huge crowd, inspired Puentes to hit the studio. He recorded 12 songs — 11 originals and one written by brother Alex.

“This record was meant to be,” Puentes said. “The record has that energy.”

The music, he said, is personal and always about life experiences and love — for a lover, a spouse, a child, a parent, a sibling, the universe.

“That’s the link between all this dance music — it’s love,” Puentes said. “Music is my passion. It is something that is very important to me.”

Seductive tracks, infectious grooves, romantic and heartfelt lyrics are peppered through the CD.

Dicen, “the talk,” elicits a sexy tone and yet the lyrics about gossip are sobering.

Lucia is a tender song in ode to Puentes’ two-year-old daughter, Lucia, and all the revelations of life that come with spending time at ground level, where a child lives.

“Your children come to teach you again about life,” Puentes said. “I’m learning again. It’s more little things that are more important than things we think are big, big.

“It’s a new beginning. It’s the biggest revelation — how life begins. It’s an experience that is, wow, it takes you to the next level.

“It teaches you love, compassion, it teaches you many, many things about life we have the tendency to forget.”

La Rumba Primero (First Rumba) is his brother’s song. It is a celebration of the Cuban culture and cultural identity delivered in a simmering dance track.

As part of the CD release party celebrations, there are free dance lessons by Salsa Caliente at 9 p.m.

Adonis Puentes and the Voice of Cuba Orchestra hit the stage at 9:30 p.m. and there’s an amateur Salsa dance competition at 10:30 p.m., with prizes. Puentes’ band returns for a final performance at 11 p.m. followed by DJ Ramesh and DJ Christina Morrison at midnight to close out the night.

Tickets are available at Lyle’s Place, Long & McQuade, Gold Hair Lounge, Puerto Vallarta Amigos (Uptown), Cafe Casablanca and eventbrite.com.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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