November 30th, 2017
A group of intergenerational musicians and dancers are set to perform a Puerto Rican style Christmas show at the Kumble Theater at LIU-Brooklyn on Dec. 10. The East-Harlem based band Los Pleneros de la 21, is presenting “Christmas in El Barrio,” — the band’s take on traditional Puerto Rican music with a New York twist. The universal joy the band members plan on sparking will be loved by everyone, said the group’s founder.
“It’s very honest, very approachable, and very funky — it’s something that regardless of where you come from you’re going to love it,” said Juan Gutierrez.
At the show, the 12-member group will perform music and dances inspired by bomba and plena — two Afro-Puerto Rican styles and sounds. Gutiérrez said the band is going to combine both the new and commonly known tunes highlighting its evolution back home and in New York.
“Bomba is traditional music and our repertoire is based on that and has a New York flavor,” he said. “The elders maintained the style untouched in Puerto Rico but it kept evolving outside, so the foundation is old school but there are many influences.”
The holidays are usually the most opportune time to showcase it because it is when families are together and culture comes alives, added Gutierrez.
“Most people embrace their culture during this time of the season, and it is ingrained in our culture in many ways regardless of where we are,” he said.
And now more than two months since Puerto Rico was badly hit by Hurricane Maria, Gutierrez said it was a chance for his band to bring a positive spotlight on Puerto Rico’s culture, and foster a fun and entertaining moment of escapism.
“What they’re feeling over there is what we are feeling here, so we’re all just thinking about our friends and colleagues, and all this outpouring of support for Puerto Rico and many people who have supported the cause to raise Puerto Rico again,” he said. “That’s going to be part of what we’re going to do and that feeling of sense of family is going to be there.”
“Christmas in El Barrio” at Kumble Theater at LIU-Brooklyn, [1 University Plaza between Willoughby Street and Dekalb Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 488-1624, www. kumbletheater.org]. Dec. 10 at 3 pm. $25.