By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
By Karli Evans
By Jose D. Duran
By Pablo Chacon Alvarez
Blades has expanded that perception somewhat with his own critically lauded but widely unappreciated acting. He has appeared in numerous films and television movies, playing, for the most part, believable characters who just happen to be Hispanic. He had less success last year with the role of the grown-up version of sixteen-year-old convicted killer Salvador Agron in Paul Simon's painfully self-conscious Broadway fiasco The Capeman. In Leon Ichaso's 1985 film Crossover Dreams, he performed his most true-to-life role as Rudy Veloz, a salsa singer who dreams of breaking into the international scene -- basically, of becoming Blades.
The singer recently embarked on his first world tour in nine years, and has been pleased with the enthusiastic response his new music has received in Europe. On Sunday he appears at the James L. Knight Center with Oscar D'Leon, also a venerable veteran of the salsa scene. Both performers have previously canceled planned concerts in Miami after conservative Cuban exile activists questioned their political views on Cuba. "Politically speaking Miami has always been dicey," says Blades, who has not given a concert here in seventeen years, though he did make a brief appearance at a MIDEM 1998 showcase. "On a couple of occasions a segment of the local radio took exception to my political position and a couple of concerts had to be canceled because of threatening calls that some people made." Blades adds that he was also blackballed in Cuba after publicly suggesting that Castro should hold free elections. "I've been consistent," he notes. "I believe in free speech in Cuba, and in Miami, too."
Blades isn't anticipating any problems this time, though. Appearing with EDITUS, he will perform music from the new album, but he is not adverse to serving up some salsa for his long-time fans. "We take a couple of trombones on tour so we can play some oldies out of respect for the public," Blades says. "But I don't feel I've had to grow on just that salsa side. I think throughout the years, my audiences have learned to expect the unexpected."
Ruben Blades and Oscar D'Leon perform on Sunday, August 22 at the James L. Knight Center, 400 SE 2nd Ave. For ticket prices and other information call 305372-4634
The Best: album list with audio sample
La Rosa de los Vientos: album list with audio sample
Rubén Blades y Son del Solar Live!: album list with audio sample
Wilson and Alroy's Record Reviews: Willie Colón/Rubén Blades