Santa Cruz Good Times

Wednesday
Sep 17th
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

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

A Different Revolution

Aries Moon late Wednesday and Thursday. We think new thoughts and initiate new ideas. Sun in Virgo with Saturn in Scorpio help disciples to create orderly structures to anchor and bring forth new ideas. Stabilizing Taurus moon Friday and Saturday. We anchor new ideas into form and matter, like seeds planted in the soil. We tend them, waiting for green shoots to emerge. Like the gestating Virgo Sun Madonna, awaiting the birth of the holy child, the Soul, the new light at winter solstice. Mercury and Chiron converse about what hurts and what heals.Saturday is a complex day with Mercury (communication), Mars (action!) and Uranus (revolution). Mercury in Libra is opposite Uranus in Aries. Oppositions (recognizing something new appearing over there somewhere) eventually synthesize. Mercury in Libra calls for Right Action and Right Relations, especially with money. Uranus in Aries—the revolution this time must be different.  Also on Saturday, Mars enters Sagittarius. Where are we going, what are our goals, where’s justice, where’s the mountain, do we have good shoes? Sunday Venus trines Pluto—in-depth assessment of money, values and resources. Gemini moon Monday; we talk a lot, tending to tasks in gardens and neighborhoods. Cancer Moon Tuesday and Wednesday; we nurture and nourish. The stars and planets remind us.Note: William Meader, esoteric author & international teacher, will be speaking on “The Soul of Humanity Evolving Through Crisis” at Meditation Mount, 7pm, Friday, Sept. 12.

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of September 12

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >

 

Watch List

From Google to the government to data brokers, why your privacy is now a thing of the past
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

What's your all-time best Skyview Flea Market score?

Santa Cruz | eBay Business

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Soquel’s Pinot Winner

When you taste Soquel Vineyards’ extraordinary 2012 Partners’ Reserve Pinot Noir, you will know why it won a Double Gold in June at the 2014 San Francisco International Wine Competition.

 

Wood Fire Woodie

Scotts Valley pizzeria gets fired up the old-school way