Brass in Pocket: The Buena Vista Social Club Was Just the Start for Cuba's Musical Capitalist Juan De Marcos Gonzalez, Finds Alice O'Keeffe

By O'Keeffe, Alice | New Statesman (1996), May 2, 2005 | Go to article overview

Brass in Pocket: The Buena Vista Social Club Was Just the Start for Cuba's Musical Capitalist Juan De Marcos Gonzalez, Finds Alice O'Keeffe


O'Keeffe, Alice, New Statesman (1996)


Juan de Marcos Gonzalez has the confident demeanour of a highly successful man. Casually turned out in a crisp blue tracksuit, he sends the barman at Havana's Riviera Hotel scurrying for the first beer of the afternoon with a brisk click of his fingers. "With a glass," he adds. "I'm bourgeois now." Gonzalez is joking, but he has certainly earned himself a very special status in Cuba. He has done more than perhaps any other artist to bring the country's traditional music out of the shadows, both at home and abroad. In the 1970s, with his first band, Sierra Maestra, he spearheaded a folk revival on the island. And in the 1990s, as musical director of the Buena Vista Social Club and the Afro-Cuban Allstars, he played a pivotal role in bringing Cuban culture to the attention of the world.

"I have never been economically ambitious, but I've always wanted to contribute something valuable to Cuba," he says. "I knew I could do that with traditional music." Buena Vista catapulted Gonzalez into the premier league, and also taught him some harsh lessons. For instance, he was not at all happy with Wim Wenders's documentary on the Buena Vista Social Club. "The film is fiction. It's like seeing a Julia Roberts film. It is directed exclusively at the hearts of people from the first world," he says.

There was also a personal slight. Ry Cooder, the American slide-guitar genius, film producer and close friend of Wenders, was shown as the driving force behind the group, appearing in almost every frame of the film. In fact, the original idea of using old musicians belonged to Gonzalez, who recruited them from his barrio and recorded the album with the British producer Nick Gold. People do not seem to realise, he says, that Wenders didn't begin filming until after the Buena Vista Social Club album had won a Grammy.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The insult was compounded by a huge financial dispute with Wenders, which Gonzalez refuses to discuss because he does not want to "stir the shit". He is, however, writing a book about the dodgy dealing and exploitation that formed the background to the Buena Vista story. "I never expected that from an artist," he says of Wenders. "Because artists aren't just capitalists. They should have artistic pride."

Having built his career on reviving the past, Gonzalez is now launching his own record label, DM Ahora! (De Marcos Now!), through which he aims to cultivate young musical talent. Cigar-toting pensioners will not be on offer, but all the genres of Cuban music will be represented, from Afro-Cuban to jazz and even classical. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Brass in Pocket: The Buena Vista Social Club Was Just the Start for Cuba's Musical Capitalist Juan De Marcos Gonzalez, Finds Alice O'Keeffe
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.