This week, Jay took me to see Israel’s Walakata featuring the Puerto Rican Salsero Frankie Vasquez performing their “Café Havana” show at The Gerard Behar Center’s here in Jerusalem. We were fortunate enough to have front row center seats for the open seating performance in the intimate venue of The Leo Model Hall. Throughout the show we had the feeling that we were sitting in a long time ago Salsa music club.
Frankie and Walakata were introduced, and with the opening strains of “Llego la Banda” (“The Band has Arrived”) I felt that “mi islita Borinquen” (my island – Puerto Rico) had arrived right here in Jerusalem!
Here’s Walakata featuring Herman Olivera singing “Llego la Banda”
Udi Or-Haim’s fabulous direction Walakata and Frankie immediately got all of us to shoulder-shimming, in-chair-dancing, unrestrained singin’ out joy, as we all left the week’s stress and strain from “Israel’s National War Readiness” drills behind. It was definitely a welcome respite from worrying about gas masks, safe rooms, wailing air-raid practice sirens, and Syria’s new Russian made S-300 missiles! Fo’get all that! We had us a good time “salse-ando” (listening and dancing to Salsa music)!
Between singing Caribbean Classics such as “Maestro de Rumberos”
and singing “Ahi Na’Ma”
Frankie shared island stories about singing and dancing with his friends at various “Fiestas Patronales” (street fairs and carnivals dedicated to the Island’s various patron saints).
Frankie’s excitement about performing in Jerusalem was genuine and unrestrained – like me, he was born there but he sure fits in here in a mighty fine way! Clearly this man has never ever heard the words “Musical Artists Boycott Israel”. Thank G-d for that because for me it was a true thrill to have “ritmo boricua” (Puerto Rican Rhythm) right here in Jerusalem.
Here’s one last one, Frankie singing “Tumba Mabo”
With the support of the USA Embassy Of Tel Aviv, Walakata and Frankie Vasquez will also be performing in Tel Aviv, Herzlia and Haifa. If you are in Israel please do have a look at http://eng.hotjazz.co.il/ for more information and performance schedule. I have a feeling you are going to love it!
photographs for this blog post are by Isa David-Ben-Rafael and are owned by IsraeLightly