The first Monday night of each month. The Village Gate night club came alive with the sounds of Salsa and Jazz! If you were a Salsa buff or a Jazz freak it was the place to be.
I was nither. But in late 1979 into the 1980s, my dad took his girlfriend, my sister and I to the Village Gate for Salsa meets Jazz! My father was such a Salsa freak. If it wasn't for my mother playing music she enjoyed. We would have heard Salsa 90% of the time. It drove me nuts!
During my pre-musician years. The last thing I wanted to hear was music that I could not understand the lyrics. What made it worst? He would BLAST it so loud you could hear it outside on the street. Other kids (my friends) on the block would hear it and ask me, "David who's playing THAT music?" They had such a disdain look on their faces. It was clear that they hated it just as much as I did. I'd just answer and say, "my father."
That did not stop my dad! He went right on cranking it up. So when he comes to me in late 1979 (I was 16yrs old) saying, "Hey Dave, you wanna go to the Village Gate tonight?" My first reply was, "what's the Village Gate?" "It's a night club," he replied. "On Monday nights they have Jazz meets Salsa, wanna go?"
My mouth said, "yeah ok!" My brain said, "Oh God, help me!" Of we went, the first Monday of each month. It was cool. I enjoyed being out with my dad and sister. As a young aspiring musician, I appreciated watching other musicians play. But it really wasn't my thing. I just could not get into Salsa and Jazz!
Then one night. The man and his queen were there. I knew who they were because my dad played their music so much. It was Tito Puente and Celia Cruz. He made sure we got there early to get good seats.
I ended up sitting right under Tito's timbales. During the show, Celia stood right next to him. I could not be any closer without being on stage with them!
The night was magic. I did not understand a single word of the lyrics. But I felt the power of Tito's drums! I felt the rasp in Celia's voice. The horn section blasted as if the sky was parting for the arrival of the Gods!
This was a night I'd never forget.
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Featured Artist: Tito Puente
Tito Puente and Celia Cruz were the king and queen of Salsa. They performed together in countless concerts around the world. You can't have a full discussion on Salsa music and remove them from the conversation.
For many years my dad blasted their music and other great salsa artists in our home. I could care less at the time. Being so young and clueless played a role. But when I saw them perform at the Village Gate.
That was a game changer for this young closed mined amateur musician.