ROXANNE OR JUMPING JACK FLASH? The race is on to play in Cuba
Cuba has always attracted musicians. The heady musical blend of African and Spanish, of Rumba, Jazz, Son and Salsa – with a revolution thrown in – has created a mix of allure, admiration and fascination. Over the years we’ve seen such US luminaries as Chick Correa, George Clinton, Herbie Hancock and Take 6. From the UK, though, have come far fewer; Rick Wakeman, Urban Dub Foundation and Manic Street Preachers being the highest profile. But now Cuba has become the place to go – “before it changes” – and suddenly the race is on between the older, big boys of British rock and roll.
HAVANA: STING or JAGGER in 2016?
Sting came (on holiday) last year, playing a small, private, function before flying out. Last month his guitarist, Dominic Miller, wowed a Havana audience only to be followed by the presence of one of rock’s most revered: Mick Jagger. The Stones’ septuagenarian front man didn’t perform but the foreign press rushed to report that the race was on; that both Sting and Jagger planned to play here in 2016 and that Sting – according to Miller -wants to be the first.
Some believe what’s much more needed is new blood; for younger and more experimental artists to visit the island. Others suspect a ‘keeping up with the Jones’ scenario: who can be first to play the ‘forbidden, exotic’ island; getting in before a feared American homogenization. But whatever happens and whatever you’re thinking, nostalgia and the feel-good factor is very important here and most Cubans I know would give their right arm to see either musician live.
So as Cathy McGowen used to say, back in the day: Ready, Steady Go…