Santa Cruz Good Times

Nov 30th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Slap Attack

In the world of innovative jazz guitar, Raul Midón reigns king

Raul Midón has collaborated with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Jason Mraz, and India Arie, but the classically trained guitarist, percussionist and pianist is quickly becoming nothing short of legendary in his own right.

His funkified, percussive guitar technique, and soulful vocals sell out shows from Paris to Tokyo to his home base in New York City, and Midón doesn’t play favorites. “I’ve always loved playing; I’ll play wherever they’ll have me,” he says. “I think in almost any city if you have fans in the audience, then you have a good audience.”

Midón’s gorgeous compositions are made up of constantly evolving, honest songwriting that is inspired by a variety of musical histories. A New Mexico native, who lost his eyesight as an infant, Midón studied music at the University of Miami, after which he worked in the city’s Latin-pop music scene as a background singer for artists like Julio and Enrique Iglesias and Shakira.

Despite his work in the Latin-pop scene, the glossy industry didn’t inspire his own music as much as some of the city’s other vibrant enclaves. “Living in Miami exposed me to Cuban music,” he recalls. “Particularly what caught my ear was sort of what I call ‘roots music’ from Cuba, Guaguancó, and things like that, as opposed to the pop stuff which I worked on, but really didn’t listen to.”

Still, his vocals reflect a sort of pop mentality in their emotive, lustful ability to mesmerize audiences. Combine that easy-listening quality with the complex rhythms of Cuban rumba music, Argentine folk music (his father hails from Argentina), flamenco, and his jazz guitar training, and you’ve got Midón’s signature slap-attack style in a nutshell—hypnotic strumming doused in funk flavor.

Midón attributes his love of blending musical genres and cultural influences to his family’s enthusiastic support for his craft ever since he was a child. “It all plays its part, it sort of makes me the non-catagorizable musician that I am,” he says.

Finding that Miami was “a place where people go to relax” and thus “unresponsive” to his solo work, Midón moved to New York in the early 2000s to push his career to the next level. In 2005, he released his first album, critically-acclaimed State of Mind, with the help of Manhattan Records and Grammy Award-winning producer Arif Mardin. Soon after, he released two more albums: 2007’s A World Within a World and 2009’s Synthesis.

In just four years, Midón’s sound and lyrical content greatly evolved. “I’ve found my voice in a sense as an artist,” he explains. “I think I have an identity, but it’s to do with the combination of the vocals and guitar together.” Midón says he has a natural desire to experiment with his songwriting. “You sort of start writing autobiographical songs and songs about how misunderstood you were or whatever, and then in the last album, particularly, I got into writing a little more fleshed-out characters and sort of writing more stories.” Tracks like “Bonnie’s Song” and “When You Call My Name” demonstrate his new narrative direction.

While itching to put out another record—“I’ve taken time, maybe too much time,” he admits—touring is his priority at the moment; he will stop by Kuumbwa Jazz on Monday, April 2. Once the tour is complete, he will return to New York to work on his next highly anticipated effort.

Though traveling can take a toll on Midón, he values the opportunity to hone his craft in front of a supportive crowd. “That’s the fortunate thing,” he says of this point in his career, “I play for my fans now.

Raul Midón plays at 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 2, at Kuumbwa Jazz, 320 Cedar St. #2, Santa Cruz.

Tickets are $25/adv, $28/door. For more information, call 427-2227.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger


Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share


Santa Cruz Gives

A look at the organizations we’re asking you to support in our new holiday giving campaign


Gratitude—For Each New Morning With its Light

The full moon of Wednesday brings light to Thanksgiving (Thursday) under the Sagittarius Sun and Mercury. Mercury in Sag offers humanity the message (Mercury) of thankfulness and joy (Jupiter). No other sign represents food, music and joy better than Sagittarius (only Pisces, when not in despair). Beginning on Thanksgiving, we can list what we’re grateful for. Then we can continue the list, creating a daily Gratitude Journal. What we are grateful for always increases in our lives. On Thanksgiving Saturn/Neptune square (challenging) is in full effect. This can manifest as traditions not being honored, disappearing, falling away. It can also create a sense of sadness, confusion, of things not working out as planned. It’s best to be as simple as possible. And to focus on gratitude instead. Gratitude is a service to others. It is scientifically and occultly a releasing agent. Releasing us from the past, allowing our future—the new culture and civilization, the new Aquarian laws and principles, the rising light of Aquarius, the Age of Friendship and Equality—to come forth. Gratitude and goodwill create the “thought-form of solution for humanity and the world’s problems.” The hierarchy lays great emphasis upon expressing gratitude. Gratitude illuminates all that is in darkness. Let us be grateful during this season together. Being, for others, the light that illuminates the darkness. A Poem by R.W. Emerson: We are grateful … “For each new morning with its light/For rest and shelter of the night/For health and food/For love and friends/For everything thy goodness sends.” (poem by R.W. Emerson). I am grateful for my family of readers.


The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program


Pluck of the Irish

Mid-century immigrant tale engagingly told in ‘Brooklyn’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments


Second Street Café

Pies and tarts for all tastes—from traditional to adventurous


How are you preparing for El Niño?

Getting ready to buy some rain gear. Cory Pickering, Santa Cruz, Teaching Assistant


Fortino Winery

Cabernet and superb fruit wine from Fortino Winery


Tap Dance

West End Tap & Kitchen’s impressive menu to expand to Eastside location