Havana Cuba All-Stars coming to town Thursday; have your dancing shoes ready

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PITTSFIELD >> Michael Padron, leader and founder of the Havana Cuba All-Stars, has one suggestion for those thinking about attending Thursday night's concert at the Colonial Theatre.

"Bring your dancing shoes," he said via an email interview.

"Cuban music is about energy and passion," he said. "It is either a love song or a dance song. You will need to come to the concert to see why it is so unique."

The Havana Cuba All-Stars, taking advantage of the recent thawing of U.S.-Cuban relations, are making their first-ever tour of the United States.

Padron is best known in Cuba for founding the band Asare, which means "friendship" in Spanish.

"I founded Asare with my friends about 20 years ago," he said in the email. For this tour, the original seven-man band has added several more musicians, all well known in Cuba, to create Asare, the Havana Cuba All-Stars, said Padron.

Cuban music, or Cuban Son, as it's called, has been around for decades. But it gained popularity in the United States in the 1930s. (Son is a Spanish word for rhythm.) The U.S. boycott of all things Cuban in the 1960s reduced the flow of such music to the states, although artist Sheryl Crow's work with the Buena Vista Social Club in the 1990s sparked a brief surge.

The All-Stars sound is a blend of New York City salsa, old-style Havana rumba and souped-up flamenco: Always upbeat, with a rapid tempo, furious guitar work, a horn section and various types of percussion. The All-Stars play both traditional and original songs on the tour.

Padron listed his influences as Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Fela Kuti and The Who.

Padron said he and the band have been pleased with the reception to the band and the music so far.

"The reaction has been amazing," he said. "People have been very supportive and pleased with our performances. We are humbled and excited at the same time."

IN CONCERT

What: The Havana Cuba All-Stars

When: Thursday evening at 8

Where: The Colonial Theatre, 111 South St., Pittsfield

Tickets: $65, $50, $25

How: (413) 997-4444; berkshiretheatregroup.org; in person at Colonial Theatre box office on site


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