Kikita, the Luckiest Girl in the World, Sees Ruben Blades in Concert

I very well may be the luckiest girl in the world.

I'm sure there are other girls that think that, but I bet I can make a pretty good case for being the luckiest.

(This is Kikita, by the way, Marta's eldest daughter. <-- That alone makes me pretty lucky, but that's not important right now ;-D)

A little over a week ago, my timbales teacher told me to look up an Eddie Palmieri song and listen to it as much as I could stand because he was going to teach it to me. Of course, in my hunt for the song in question, I remembered a whole bunch of OTHER Eddie Palmieri songs I love.

A few days after my Palmieri moment, Mami sent me a text message. The nice people at Al Punto had offered her two free tickets to see Ruben Blades the following Wednesday, but she was going to be on vacation and would I like to go? And, if I DID want to go, did I have someone I could take with me?


What you might not know is how much I LOOOOVVVEEE Ruben Blades.

I think his voice is like a fine summer wine. Light, sweet, smooth and delicious. (No, I don't drink a lot of wine, but if Ruben Blades' voice WAS a wine, I'd drink it every day.)

I immediately called my OTHER timbales teacher (the one who is just showing me what he knows because he's nice) and, like me, there was no way he'd say no to an invitation to see one of best in the business.

Ruben Blades was playing at the Hollywood Bowl. I'd never been to the Hollywood Bowl, but was instructed to take a picnic and that every seat is an experience.

There could be no sounder advice.

I stopped to get pan con lechón from my favorite Orange County Cuban restaurant, Bella Cuba and we arrived at the Hollywood Bowl with enough time to find our seats (they were AWESOME! Thanks, Al Punto!) and enjoy our sandwiches. It was perfect. 

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I was so excited on Ruben Blades, I had completely forgotten about the band that would be opening for him... The EDDIE PALMIERI Orchestra!!


See what I'm saying about luck? 

Eddie started by saying, "Whether you stand up and dance or just dance in your seat: if you don't move or get involved with this band, you are not well." 

I could barely contain my excitement. Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, Eddie asked for requests and joked that he would play all those requests "next time." I was secretly hoping he would play my favorite song of his, "La Malanga" when he announced that the next song had been written by a Cuban singer/songwriter named Rudy Calzado and was called "La Malanga."

Could a girl get any luckier?!?

Yes. A girl could run in to her favorite local salsa star by the name of Chino Espinoza (of Chino Espinoza y Los Dueños Del Son) with his son Jake.

Kikita con Chino y Jake Espinoza

After each song, I would turn to my friend and say "We could leave now and I'd be so happy," and Ruben Blades had not even started yet! It was THAT GOOD.

Of course, it took Ruben Blades all of 10 seconds to leave me speechless. He was incredible. His voice was everything I knew it would be.

He introduced his song "Decisiones" by saying, "In 1984, this song was banned by the dictatorship in Panama. Today the dictatorship is gone, but the song remains."

As if I needed any more reasons to love him? My Cuban-American side was cheering "Yes! Dictatorships CAN be overthrown!"

Of my top three favorite Ruben Blades songs, Ruben played "Muevete" which is my second favorite and ended with his classic (and my third favorite)  "Pedro Navaja" which he started with a little bit of "Mack the Knife."

I was so happy. What a wonderful experience. What a wonderful concert. What a lucky girl I was... and, wait, what? He was going to do ONE. MORE. SONG.

Being the Luckiest Girl in the World, I knew he would play my favorite song of his, "Patria."

I couldn't stop the tears of joy and disbelief from rolling down my cheeks.

Not that I want to push my luck, but I am so looking forward to "next time." If last night was any indication of some of the upcoming events at the beautiful Walt Disney Concert Hall, then I might have to become a Professional Attender of Wonderful Music Things. I'm told this next season is going to be "Limitless" and full of surprises a la Gilberto Gil, Bobby McFerrin, and Holiday Sing-Along with Julie Andrews!

I know, right?

I am one lucky (and oh-so-happy) girl! =D

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