By Jacob Katel
By Laurie Charles
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
Their music has gained a loyal following, especially among college students and Spanish artists. They've collaborated on albums and concerts with modern flamenco legend Ketama, popular folk rocker Pedro Guerra, and pop star Alejandro Sanz, and they were the first Latinos to perform at Germany's Frankfurt Opera House.
That might not have happened if the Buena Vista Social Club hadn't sparked a renewed interest in Cuban culture. "Spain, and I'd even say the world in general, has rediscovered the ABCs of Cuban music. To some degree, its roots have become a market-based cliché," reflects Pavel. But, he concedes, "this boom has given the old maestros a life they'd never been able to dream of."
Now that the old codgers have been recognized, the duo is thrilled to know Nineties-era colleagues are also getting their due. "Our generation really got harped on," Gema says. Her and her peers' childhood coincided with some of the revolution's most formidable years, and yet their young adulthood saw the economic horrors of the Special Period and the increased political repression that followed.
She glances around at the elder exiles that populate El Pub and whispers that her generation often feels misunderstood. "Oh, we studied all kinds of things in Cuba — scientific communism, philosophy, the law of dialectics," she recalls. "They taught us to think and to be cultured, but we couldn't put that thinking into practice." Then she straightens up and declares, "Lots of artists stayed there and learned to play the game for whatever human reason, but I tell you, there aren't any fools in my generation. I think that'll become obvious as we get older."