5th Annual International Tropical Music Collector’s Fair

With deep roots from Spain to its official documentation in Cuba in the late 1800s, the musically romantic genre known as the “bolero” will be celebrated at the fifth annual International Tropical Music Collector’s Fair on Saturday, November 1, 2008 -from 1 to 11 p.m. at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle, which is located at 60th Street & Columbus Avenue, New York City.

The day includes various panel discussions, on-going viewings of historical film and clips, various DJs and collectors spinning from their personal collections on the main stage, interactive activities where audience members are challenged to “Name that Tune” or where they identify the songwriter or complete the verse of a particular song; or they may even be asked to sing an original tune of their own.Panelists will include Latin music historians and celebrities: Rene Lopez, Aurora Flores, Cuban composer Sylvio Cebrian, Graciela Perez, Jose Stringer, Frank Figueroa and Bobby Sanabria.

The all day Festival highlights the music and songs of composers and artists that made the “bolero” a hallmark of romance and a standard bearer of poetry and artistic acumen and virtuosity. Dedicated to the spirit of the legendary Vicentico Valdes (who sang with Tito Puente among many others), as well as singer/songwriter Mike Amadeo, recognized for over 100 compositions he’s written for many of the giants of Latin music today and Luis Kalaff whose interpretations of the romantic format have been sung by artists from Luis Miguel to Julio Iglesias.

The festival will feature musical segments by New York’s local band, Trio New York accompanying Mike Amadeo. The closing concert features David Oquendo y Su Conjunto, backing up singers representing Latin America who include: Sammy Ayala (Rafael Cortijo’s original vocalist hired to sing boleros and now with Zon Del Barrio representing Puerto Rico/NY), Graciela (from the famed Machito & his Afro Cubans), Santiago Ceron, (representing the Dominican Republic and a former featured singer with Johnny Pacheco) Marco Bemudez (a young blood from New York who can be seen fronting the Spanish Harlem Orchestra), among others.

The bolero as romantic sung art form was so big in the U.S.; even big bands gave English language titles to the otherwise Spanish branded boleros. For example, “You Belong To My Heart” belonged to Mexican composer Agustin Lara as “Solamente Una Vez” while “Besame Mucho,” “Quizas, Quizas, Quizas” and “Somos Novios” (translated into “It’s Impossible”) were sung by American crooners such as Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and Perry Como. Even The Beatles joined in the bolero movement with their updated take of “Besame Mucho.”

Today, the “bachata” is the 21st Century rendition of the classic bolero while the Festival becomes a repository for individual collectors to display “one of a kind” photos, posters, vintage films, sheet music, collectables and memorabilia all related to the Latin music experience.

Each year the festival acknowledges particular themes and personalities from various fields and eras in Latin music history. In 2004, our first year, we highlighted The Big Three: Tito Puente, Machito and Tito Rodriguez. In 2005, we relived the sixties with the Boogaloo era and we featured such notables as Joe Bataan, Richie Ray, Johnny Colon and the Lebron Brothers among others. 2006 highlighted the Charanga sounds and bands that exploded on to the Latin music scene in the 1970s.

Last year the event was given a different spin when we focused on Mexican cinema and the important roles that Mexico and its film industry played in the 30s, 40s and 50s in producing and distributing Latin music throughout the world with Mexico as the Mecca for Latin films and recordings.

The International Latin/Tropical Music Collectors’ Festival celebrates the individual as a keeper of tradition. It highlights the collector as an institution who collects but documents, preserves, studies, and celebrates historical elements from musical traditions with Latin roots. This 10-hour long festival encourages public participation by encouraging the participants to join a nurturing group of people who appreciate and value the musical traditions of Latin music.

The goal of many who attend the event is to promote and expand on their current collection; buy, barter and trade among each other as professional and amateur collectors, exchange information, material and expertise in an area that has quickly developed into a field of its own. The collectors who attend come from throughout the country and the Caribbean as well as from Mexico, Spain, Italy, Colombia and Brazil.


The Franklin H. Williams Caribbean Cultural Center/African Diaspora Institute, commonly known as the Caribbean Cultural Center, was conceived in 1976 by Marta Moreno Vega with the vision to create an international organization promoting and linking communities of African descendants wherever our communities are present. Dedicated to making visible the invisible history, culture, and welfare of peoples of African descent to the populations of New York and our communities worldwide, the Center is based is New York City, but effectively works for the social, cultural, and economic equity of African Diaspora communities everywhere.

Author: World Music Central News Department

World music news from the editors at World Music Central


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