Nightclub Jitters

You're at your neighborhood music megastore in search of the latest release by your new favorite group, Seguridad Social. "How ya spell that?" asks a perplexed clerk in the Latin music department. He then walks off to scan the computer ("How did ya say ya spell that again?"), leaving you to paw through bins stocked with CDs by Juan Gabriel and El Puma. And what about that album you wanted by No Me Pises que Llevo Chanclas? Don't even ask. Just call Eco International Distributors.

Started up by Argentine concert promoter Gabriel Roccatagliata eight months ago in South Beach, Eco has the most extensive rock en espanol catalogue in the U.S. A the most recent one lists 1300 CD titles of classic and new Latin rock, although Eco product manager Fabio Vallebona points out that the company has access to over 10,000 titles. These range from Seventies dinosaurs such as Sui Generis to current Latin American and Spanish chart toppers Los Fabulosos Cadillacs to Spanish rockabilly king Loquillo. Albums by Carlos Varela, Pablo Milanes, and other Cuban artists are included, along with tango discs (23 titles by Astor Piazzolla!), samba (Carnival compilations), and records by sophisticated salseros such as Ruben Blades. Best customers: L.A. DJs, who mix their Latin rock with other sounds. Best sellers: Argentine rockers. Vallebona, who DJs Latin-rock nights at Nick's Miami Beach, Bar 609, and Marsbar, promises that Eco will ship orders quickly, within two days for product in stock and two weeks tops for special orders. Call 673-5977. (Judy Cantor)

Sephardic Seraphs
Talk about bad timing. Front man Oscar Herrera recounts that he recently fielded a call informing him that his old band, Halo, had been selected to perform at the upcoming Ticketmaster showcase at the Edge. One problem: Halo split up in June. Oh, well.

Meanwhile, Herrera's new band, El Duende, debuts on September 7 at Churchill's Hideaway, with dates following on September 9 at Spec's in the Grove and September 23 at Spec's on the Beach. According to Herrera, El Duende plays a hybrid of of rock, Latin rhythms, and, somewhat strangely, Sephardic music (a folk idiom derived from Jews who lived in Spain during the Middle Ages). "None of us is Jewish," Herrera confesses, "but the music's cool." (As a matter of fact, all six band members trace their origins to Cuba.) Herrera notes that the band's instrumentation consists of guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, congas, and mandolin/violin/Spanish guitar, with vocals sung in Spanish (they even do Spanish versions of some old Halo tunes). "Of course," he deadpans, "we can sing in English if we get a show in, like, Davie or someplace.

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Michael Yockel