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Saludos Compay

Friday festival

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Saludos Compay
  • Saludos Compay

Good news for those of us still shaking the car with our hips to Buena Vista Social Club: When Saludos Compay formed in 2003, they were looking for a low-key Latin sound, but—now, as a more eclectic band—they've ended up with music that can't help but make people dance.

Erich Leith—the band's keyboardist, percussionist and spokesperson and a Triangle native—says the band makes some of the most diverse music in the Triangle. And, like all bands, they've got music on their Web site, but he says you have to see them live to get the real thing.

"The music on our Web site is from about three years ago, when I put it up," says Leith. "What we're doing now spans a much larger range."

Lead singer and guitarist Pablo Valencia hails from Chile. His buttery voice—smooth and uncontroversial—could pump up the body like a sugar rush and later sing it to sleep, all sultry and sweet. Leith and percussionist Chuck Nolan enhance the vocals, and their improvised keyboard lines and persistent percussion complement the guitar and vocals.

Largely improvised, the band makes for a live trip, with intense and powerful rhythms sometimes moving into softer, smaller movements. Word to the wise for a Compay show: Bring your dancing shoes and open ears. The music ranges from classic Latin summertime suave to nighttime booty-shaking beats, with influences from Latin America, South America and the Caribbean. Their music takes shape in lively salsa, smoother bossa nova and grab-your-partner cumbia styles. The band's even written several original cumbia compositions.

"Since we do a diverse thing, that's really been our goal all along," says Leith, "to have the music reach as many people as possible."

This is the second year Saludos Compay has played the Music, Moonlight and Dance series. Intended as a weekly musical, cultural and community gathering, the series runs from May deep into September. The shows are free, but a suggested donation into a fuzzy hat passed around during the performance helps the band. Artists receive 100 percent of the donations.

The series also benefits local farmers and craftsmen, who are encouraged to set up, at no cost, and sell their goods.

A kid-friendly, beautiful area illuminated by the sunset with fantastic, vibrant Latin music with a local cause in mind—perfect entertainment for a Friday night.

Saludos Compay plays Shakori Hills in Chatham County Friday, June 15, from 7-10 p.m. For more, visit www.shakorihills.org/shakori-music-series or www.saludoscompay.com.

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