Cuban singer-songwriter-guitarist Carlos Varela and his band will perform for one night only at the Coolidge Corner Theatre on Thursday, June 16 at 7:00 pm. The concert, Varela’s only Boston show, is part of an eight-city U.S. tour sponsored by his longtime friend and supporter, Jackson Browne.
Often dubbed “Cuba’s Bob Dylan”, Varela is one of his country’s best-known folk/rock musicians and a major figure in Latin music. He has been drawing thousands of passionate fans to his shows for more than 20 years.
Varela is a pioneer of Novisima Trova (Newest Song), the second generation of the Cuban Nueva Trova (New Song) movement founded by troubadours Silvio Rodriguez, Pablo Milanés, and Noel Nicola in the late 1960s. His music combines the Nueva Trova tradition of richly poetic, socially conscious lyrics with an innovative fusion of folk, rock, and pop. Upbeat and defiant, soothing and soulful, he can rock the audience one moment and break their hearts the next with his haunting songs about love, loss, freedom, hope, and Cuban daily life.
One of the most outspoken singer-songwriters of his generation, Varela’s music has given voice to Cubans who long for change and a greater connection to the outside world. He has had concerts shut down by police and songs banned from island radio, but he has been allowed to record and tour abroad and to continue performing in Cuba.
Jackson Browne will be on hand at the Coolidge to introduce Varela but Mr. Browne will not be performing.
More About Carlos Varela
Born in Havana in 1963 to Spanish immigrants, Varela began composing his first songs at age 15. Two years later, he joined the Neuva Trova movement of Cuban singer-songwriters and began performing in theaters and small venues in Havana and other cities throughout Cuba.
He graduated from Cuba’s Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA) with an acting degree, and got his big break in 1986 when Nueva Trova founder Silvio Rodriguez invited him on a tour through Spain; later that year, he shared the stage with renowned Argentine musicians Mercedes Sosa and León Gieco. Varela went on to form his own band with musicians from the ISA and the National School of Art.
Varela recorded his first album, Jalisco Park, in 1989, followed by a live record, Carlos Varela en Vivo (1991) and Monedas al Aire (1992). Subsequent releases included the contemporary folk record Como Los Peces (1998), the acoustic Nubes (2000), and Siete (2003), featuring multiple Grammy winners Bonnie Raitt and Cuban band Los Van Van. In 2004, Varela joined Jackson Browne, one of his idols, on his solo acoustic tour through Europe. That same year, Varela’s song “Una Palabra” (A Word), from his album Nubes, gained international recognition when it was featured in the American film Man on Fire.
Varela’s latest studio album, No Es El Fin (It is Not the End) was released in the summer of 2009. In May 2010, Varela and his band embarked on a six-city U.S. tour to promote No Es El Fin. Sponsored by Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt, the tour marked the first time Varela had performed in this country since 1998, when he played at Songwriters in the Round showcase in Miami during an 18-month cultural thaw between the U.S. and Cuba.
His concert at Miami’s Gusman Center on May 15, 2010 had the capacity audience on its feet and singing along for most of the show. He has called the concert one of the most emotional of his life and a highlight of his career. “You could breathe in an air of memories, nostalgia, happiness, pain, illusions, and reconciliation,” he said.
Varela has performed in countries around the world, and has shared the stage with Jackson Luis Enrique, Francisco Céspedes, Joaquín Sabina, Silvio Rodriguez, Miguel Bosé, Los Van Van, Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Ruben Blades, Sting, and many others. On September 20, 2009, he and his band performed at the mega concert “Paz Sin Fronteras” in Havana. The concert, organized by Colombian rock star Juanes, drew more than one million people, making it the largest concert in Cuban history.
Tickets to “Jackson Browne Presents: Carlos Varela” are $15 general admission/$12 Coolidge members and students and are available online at Coolidge Corner Theatre or at the Coolidge box office, 290 Harvard Street, Brookline Massachusetts.