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Cuba's Folkie

Carlos Varela is a singer-songwriter from the new school of la nueva trova. For those who don’t know, that’s Cuba’s version of ’60s folk music. Forged by the first generation that grew up under the revolution, the genre draws on the rock and pop sounds of the time and features highly politicized and poetic lyrics. With the Cuban government (read: Castro’s regime) behind the genre, it was pro-communist. But for Carlos Varela, it was always more of a way to air his views on the social condition than a mere matter of politics. The composer joined the ranks of Cuba’s new troubadours in 1980, when he was just 17 years old. Silvio Rodriguez — who, along with Pablo Milanes, is credited with founding the movement — stumbled onto a young Varela and took him to Spain on tour. From that moment, Varela’s social commentary has become ubiquitous. Not only has his music appeared frequently in Cuban films, but also it was used in the soundtrack to Man on Fire, starring Denzel Washington. Varela will perform at Grand Central this Thursday and Saturday.
Thursdays, Saturdays, 9 p.m. Starts: June 23. Continues through June 26, 2011


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