What is neo-Cuban blues? It's what local singer-songwriter Sol Ruiz calls her Spanglish sound that mixes music from two countries that are so close yet so far apart.
"My parents are Cuban, and I was born and raised in Miami Beach, so I was interested in my roots," Ruiz tells New Times. "The Cuban music from the '20s and '30s became my true interest. I was really intrigued by the horns but also the history and the setting of the music near all the casinos that disappeared when Castro took over."
Ruiz also had an ear for folk and American bluegrass. After graduating from New World School of the Arts, she moved to New Orleans to study and live among those uniquely American musical genres. "I also learned about blues and jazz." She then took that knowledge on the road to Europe, where she lived in Madrid for seven years while fronting the band Picadillo and playing all over the continent.
But after all of that traveling and wandering, Ruiz is back in her hometown and pleased as punch to show off what she learned about music. "My family is here, and so are my roots. You also have some of the best players of Cuban music in the world. I can't help but see it as the perfect place to fuse Cuban and American music."
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Locals will have a chance to hear her brand of neo-Cuban blues Friday night at Vedado Social Club, where she will be joined by a drummer and bassist. "It's going to be one set. I'll be getting onstage around midnight and will give a good mix of the Cuban and American in me."
Though Ruiz is planning a trip to London in January to finish mixing Picadillo's album with one of the engineers who works with Radiohead, most of her plans for 2017 involve the Magic City that birthed her. She hosts a world music show Thursday nights at 10 on Shake 108 and is also planning a January concert with the Prism Group.
"I had a lot of mentors in Miami. Now it's my time to give back."
11 p.m. Friday, December 23, at Vedado Social Club, 3201 Buena Vista Ave., Miami; 669-444-0872.