Salsa All-Star Band Convenes for a Great Cause

(De izq. a der.) Juan Deras, Lea Chiurco y el Dr. Agustín Díaz

Orquesta GarDel’s final concert of the summer is in a different format than our usual social-dance-night-at-a-downtown-club. Our lead trumpet player, Alberto Carrasquillo, introduced us to a remarkable young woman, Lea Chiurco, who is a professional singer that sometimes plays with Ricardo Diquez. She is also starting a non-profit called Hope From Notes, which seeks to raise funds for members of the Latino community who are unable to afford large medical costs. You can read more about how she came to care about this cause, and her previous efforts at producing community concerts to raise money in this La Conexión article. Now Lea has set her sights on a biiiiiigg show, at the Dorton Arena on the NC State Fairgrounds, to raise money for four men who are in dire need of kidney transplants. She approached Orquesta GarDel about being the backing band for the second half of the concert, and we are honored to help with this mission.

Musically, the concert will be unique because it will feature almost all of the Triangle’s salsa singers – Ricardo Diquez from Tropic Orchestra, Anthony Alvarez from Orquesta K’Che, and relative newcomer Cristina Alamo (husband of marimba-whiz Juan) for Orquesta GarDel. That makes it a one-of-a-kind all-star night as far as salsa is concerned. We’re so happy that all the singers and instrumentalists can share single stage. The first half of the show features other acts, like Colombian harpist Pavelid Castaneda, the UNC Clef Hangers, and Lea’s special choir assembled for the occasion.

There is no set price for tickets, this is all about making donations towards the cause. We’d suggest $20 a person, more if you are feeling magnanimous. We’re not sure whether or not they accept credit cards – perhaps bring cash or check just in case? The show begins around 6pm with the smaller acts, then there will be an intermission, then the all-star salsa band around 7:30 or 8pm. There will be plenty of space on the arena floor for dancing.

Watching Lea’s Facebook Event for updates is helpful – we’re learning now that it would be cool if we all wore the color purple to show our support for these four men.

We hope to mobilize as much of the dance community as possible to come help Lea and her Hope From Notes crew fill the arena with bodies, and with funds for the cause. Details about the September 6th show can be found below. Pa’lante!

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Back To Back Festival Weekend

Even though this week promises to be a scorcher, it won’t stop Orquesta GarDel from playing back-to-back outdoor festivals. Some of the members of our newfound brothers in Afro-diasporic grooves are also part of Live Original Local, a Greensboro organization that “plans community events that bring together live music, original art and craft vendors, and local businesses.” On Saturday, July 7, GarDel hits the main stage at the second annual WalkerFEST, a free street festival near downtown Greensboro. The music lineup consists of killer bands across many genres like Orquesta GarDel (naturally) and The Brand New Life , but also avant-rock trio Hammer No More The Fingers (sporting a new EP), and festival-favorite Holy Ghost Tent Revival. Our set starts at 5:30pm.

After a dip in the pool and a night’s rest, we will reappear at Durham’s legendary Festival for the Eno, which is practically synonymous with “Fourth of July.” This will be our fourth (fifth?) straight year playing at the festival, and we are always impressed with the number of dancers willing to brave the heat, discard their shoes, and get down in a field. But its always the toddlers running away from the family picnic blanket who have the sweetest dance moves. You can find information about tickets and parking at the bottom of this post.

DJ Santa Salsera captured us playing our signature timba, “Lo Que Tú Querías” at the 2011 festival. Check it out and then come see us play our latest original timba, “Sin Ti” this coming Sunday!

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Keeping It In The Family: GarDel + Tim Smith Band 06/08

20081010_ShakoriHills_4988Listen to the first 30 seconds of the first track on our CD, Lo Que Tú Querías. Did you hear that soaring falsetto voice? That is none other than our saxophonist Tim Smith. A man of many talents, Tim has been with GarDel since 2008 but got his degree many, many years before that, from the University of Soul where he double majored in Positive Vibes and One-Drop Studies.1

One of the great things about Orquesta GarDel is that its members are very active in the musical community. Just a few examples: trumpeter Al Strong and timbalero Brevan Hampden both lead their own jazz combos. Pianist Eric Hirsh and bassist Pete Kimosh are one-half of hip hop quartet The Beast (with whom GarDel collaborated on this salsa/hip hop music video). Vocalist Jaime Roman sings with Orquesta K’Che and Caribe Vibe. And Tim is frontman/singer/saxist/flautist/keyboardist (sometimes all at the same time!) for the eponymous Tim Smith Band.

We are excited to have a summer chock-full of shows in the NC Triangle and Triad regions. Each event is either a music festival or a co-bill with another band playing some sort of dance music from the African diaspora. We kick it off on Friday June 8th at Casbah in Durham, drawing from within the GarDel ranks to fill out the night. It’s none other than the Tim Smith Band, getting your hips swaying with some energetic ska, funk, and jazz before GarDel busts the night open with more salsa and timba.

To give you a taste of what’s in store, here is a live video of the TSB performing at last year’s Carrboro music festival. You might spot a familiar bass player…

One final video, this time a demonstration of multi-layered GarDel family collaboration. Here is Eric and Pete’s group The Beast, performing their song ‘Interfaith Dialogue” at Shakori Hills, with special guests Andy and Tim (also from GarDel). Watch out for the chorus, where Tim’s vocal really takes it to church.

  1. Okay fine, he actually went to Oberlin to study Jazz.

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First Show Of 2012: Cat’s Cradle

If you have been craving to see a gigantic live salsa band for months, your wait is almost over. GarDel comes out of hibernation, landing itself at the nexus of the Triangle music scene, ready to share the fruits of its winter rehearsals. Latin music spring begins on March 31st, and you can get your advance tickets right here.

Here is our announcement as it reads on :

North Carolina’s premier Latin music group Orquesta GarDel will kick off its 2012 performance season with a headlining show at the Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro on Saturday, March 31. This will be GarDel’s first appearance at the Triangle’s legendary music venue, to which they bring their brand of explosive tropical rhythms and large-group experimentation for two sets of music.

The thirteen-member ensemble has not played in the region since October, when it split a Motorco Music Hall bill with kindred spirits and acclaimed American indie-salsa group Bio Ritmo. In the past year Orquesta GarDel has achieved other milestones on the path of a growing band, including the release of its debut record “Lo Que Tú Querías,” a sold-out Motorco CD-release party, and its fourth appearance at the Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival. “But my favorite memory of 2011 was playing together at the LEAF festival in Black Mountain,” recounts New Jersey by-way-of Puerto Rico lead singer Nelson Delgado. “I loved introducing our band to the western part of the state and the overwhelming reception we received there.”

Orquesta GarDel is making a conscious effort to place its unique blend of classic salsa forms and edgy funk and jazz influences in front of a more diverse audience, reflecting its members’ collective hope for the music to transcend any listener’s desire or ability to dance. “The band is thrilled to play at the Cat’s Cradle,” says pianist and co-director Eric Hirsh. “This unlikely group of accomplished musicians was born and raised into a unified salsa family just down the street at UNC Chapel Hill, and it fits wonderfully within the Cradle’s long history of presenting a diverse roster of artists.” GarDel will announce the rest of its spring and early summer tour dates in the coming weeks. Tickets for the March 31 show can be purchased and additional details found at the Cat’s Cradle website.

What do you think are some cool things we could do to celebrate a new season for NC salsa at the show?

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Check out Bio Ritmo’s new album

Our next headlining show in our hometown of Durham, NC is on October 14th at Motorco Music Hall.  GarDel will be sharing the stage with one of the Southeast’s most established indie/progressive salsa bands, Bio Ritmo.  Based out of Richmond, VA, Bio Ritmo has been going strong for twenty years, honoring the salsa dura tradition while adding their own spin to the music.  The two bands have been trying to connect since April, and this fall has been the perfect opportunity because Bio Ritmo is on tour in support of their latest LP, La Verdad.

Here’s what one reviewer had to say about it:

There are only eight tracks on La Verdad but within those tracks are packed more quality salsa grooves and innovations than many bands will ever accrue in their careers. Most importantly, it also manages to be an album that can be enjoyed via headphones or with your feet on the dancefloor, and this is something that many dance-orientated Latin albums miss, too often are they slaves to the rhythm. Give me La Verdadany day of the week.

Exciting, yeah?  Now that we are a few years into our own journey writing original salsa music, we know how important it is that others continue to push the genre forward.  Please support live, local (& regional!) salsa bands.  You can stream and purchase the album at, or better yet, come out to our show at Motorco and buy it from the band in person!   See you in October.

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Why being a salsa band in North Carolina is awesome

New York, Havana, San Francisco, Miami, Madrid: you’ve got nothing on the Triangle.  This week our local alt-weekly put out its reader-voted “Best of” lists for various restaurants, clubs, services, and so on.  They also solicited memories from local activists, businesspeople, politicians.  We were completely caught off guard by this touching account from Heather LaGarde, who is essentially the Queen of Saxapahaw:

Of all the happy, rewarding, inspiring things I’ve seen since returning to the Triangle after so many years away, I would have to say one of my favorites was witnessing Orquesta GarDel play the tiny Hay Wagon stage at the Saxapahaw Farmer’s Market….Farmers, old-timers, gorgeous young things, babies and mommies, hoopers and hipsters took over the entire meadow, all of the market, spilling down to the riverside, and they danced.  Some really knew how to, some were actually salsa dancing, but some of the older folks were waltzing, some doing various forms of swing and disco; the kids were just jumping up and down and twirling…I don’t think the village had ever seen anything like it, and it made me feel like the world was coming together in the best kind of way.

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