Changui Oriental

Many years ago,the Mrs and I went to see this Cuban musician neither one of us had ever heard of at a Club on the beach a good friend of ours owned. The place was packed when we got there, the stage was set up, instruments at the ready. Everyone there was talking about the guy, about this song or that song and I felt a bit out of place as I had never even heard the guy’s name before that day.
Then the musicians begin taking the stage, the place erupts in applause with people clapping and hooting and hollering. The guys and girls on stage pick up their instruments, give them the once over and start playing.
I’ll admit that Id been a bit skeptical. Who was this guy from Cuba that Id never heard of that everyone here seems to know? But the minute the music started – you know how it is with Cuban music, it just gets you. Gets to that ron, tabaco y cafe place in you where you can practically smell the ocean and there’s just no way to keep yourself from swaying to the music.
And this wasnt some “salsa” tune they play on radio stations and dance casino to. This was pure Cuban music: un son.
After about a minute or so, the guy comes up on stage, picks up his tres, straps it on. “Buenas noches,” he says. “Thank you for coming.” Then he says something that has stuck with me all these years.
“I wasnt expecting such a large crowd and I dont kow how you all have heard of me. They dont play me over there and they dont play me over here.”
With that he began strumming el tres and I became an instant fan of Pedro Luis Ferrer.
Watch this video of a tune called “Changui para la pena” – via Penultimos Dias – to see what I mean. And pay attention to the lyrics as Ferrer’s words are always just as beautiful and just as profound and just as Cuban as that tres that accompanies them.

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