Cuban band El Son Entero’s first tour abroad brings some cha cha cha to Tasmania


Photo: Cuba’s El Son Entero play at the street cafe in Burnie on Tuesday. (ABC Northern Tasmania: Rick Eaves)

Cuban band El Son Entero is on its first tour outside Cuba and surprisingly, the members say they feel right at home in Tasmania.

El Son Entero's international relations manager Seila Guerrero Luis said the Tasmanian landscape is a lot like Cuba.

El Son Entero’s international relations manager Seila Guerrero Luis said the Tasmanian landscape is a lot like Cuba.

While obviously a cooler climate, band members have been telling their tour manager and translator, Ella Millard that the landscape reminds them of home.

“I’m tour bus driver, stage manager, lots of things,” Ms Millard said.

“We went to a pub last night for dinner for some good Aussie culture and I realised I’d have to read the menus for everybody.

“It didn’t matter at all. I’m having a wonderful time with them, they’re a great bunch of guys.”

On Tuesday, the Burnie City Council welcomed the eight-piece band to Tasmania with a Cuban-style street cafe lunch.

The walls of the Burnie art gallery were adorned with huge photos of Havana streetscapes. Colourful retro tablecloths were brought in and a favourite lunch sandwich of Cuba headed the menu.


Photo: Trumpet player Randi from El Son Entero, chews an unlit cigar whilst messing with the drums at Burnie’s street cafe welcome. (ABC Northern Tasmania: Rick Eaves)

“We did some research and the sandwich we came up with is basically meat on meat on meat – with cheese,” Burnie’s marketing, tourism and events manager, Jenny Cox said.

The band responded with a taster of their traditional Cuban music including hip-swivelling mambo and cha cha cha, centred around Afro-Cuban drumming and the six-stringed traditional bass called a “tres”.


Burnie artist Lucia Leon talks with El Son Entero band members at the street cafe welcome.

In describing the music, it is hard not to make reference to the musicology project undertaken by Ry Cooder which led to the film Buena Vista Social Club.

El Son Entero play the same sort of traditional music and with the same highly emotive vocals.

The band’s international relations manager Seila Guerrero Luis said the popularity of Buena Vista Social club kept traditional Cuban music from being lost to time.

“The traditional music, it was a little bit forgotten. Bolero, cha cha cha, mambo … and this is the sort of music that El Son Entero promote,” Ms Luis said.

“We have something in common with Tasmania too – the green.

“Even though it is so cold here, the landscape is similar to Cuba and also, you people are so friendly, as we Cubans are.”

Some members of El Son Entero [which when translated into English means “the full sound”] have played in other countries, but the shows in Tasmania are the first for the full band outside of their native land.

The band is presenting two different shows while in Tasmania, one is all musical performance while the other “Pasaje” uses visual imagery including rare film footage of Cuba.

Accompanied by the live band, the imagery provides an insight into the often unseen culture of the country and the history of its music.

El Son Entero played Burnie on Tuesday night. They play in Launceston on Thursday night, Hobart on Friday night and then the Triabunna Seafest on Saturday.

They will also make a 10:00pm appearance at the Spiegeltent in Hobart on Saturday before finishing their Tasmanian tour at Moonah’s Taste of the World festival on Sunday.

For more details, check out the Tasmanian International Arts Festival’s website.

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