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Interview with Roger W. BARR

Publié le 1er octobre 2011, par : Lorenzo Valoy

Roger W. Barr was Miguel Quintana’s last manager and still manages Los Soneros de Oriente. He was an important witness to Miguelito’s last 18 months of activity.

|L. V. - To begin with, could you briefly explain what ’CANDELA Productions’ is exactly ?

Roger W. BARR - Well, Candela productions is the name I use for all my club and private events. I wanted a name that was as easy to say in English as it was in Spanish, and one that had some relation to Cuban/latin music.

L. V. - When did you start working with Miguel Quintana & los Soneros de Oriente ?

Roger W. BARR - I began working with Miguel shortly after the break up of the legendary Son De La Loma. Most of the remaining Son De La Loma musicians simply became Los Soneros De Oriente. There was a managerial disagreement and the band decided the best thing to do was choose a new name.

L. V. - When you got them under contract, did you think they were a special group, and why ?

Roger W. BARR - I have never had the band under contract... I prefer to work with an open agreement as I believe it’s important for the group to be as flexible as possible.

L. V. - When did you hear about Miguel for the first time, and, as a fan of Cuban music, what did he represent to you at that time ?

Roger W. BARR - Of course I knew about Miguel Quintana from the old Son De La Loma days. And he is unquestionably one of the great soneros of our time.

L. V. - When did Miguel Quintana & los Soneros de Oriente begin their regular appearances at Nell’s ? Have they played there every month since then ?

Roger W. BARR - Miguel Quintana and Los Soneros De Oriente started playing at Nell’s a little over three years ago and have been a favorite ever since.

L. V. - Have all of their performances at Nell’s been taped ? Have you thought of issuing a live recording ?

Roger W. BARR - No. We made a couple of recordings but they are only two track and are not suitable for releasing.

L. V. - Could you tell us what the two numbers were that Miguel sang on the 27th of December 2000 when he performed with Nelson González, Alfredito Valdés Jr. and José Antonio Fajardo ?

Roger W. BARR - Sorry, I just don’t remember.

L. V. - Was "Son de Mayarí y Guantánamo" part of Los Sonero’s regular repertory ?

Roger W. BARR - No. That one appears on an older Son De La Loma recording and I don’t recall hearing Los Soneros De Oriente sing it.

L. V. - Who chose the material for the No me asusten más CD ?

Roger W. BARR - Ramon ’Chiripa’ Aracena, who is also the music director and arranger for the group.

L. V. - When did the recording sessions begin ? How long did it take to complete the CD ?

Roger W. BARR - I was not involved with the sessions... You would get more info from the band members.

L. V. - How did Miguel feel about making a new recording ? Was it important to him ?

Roger W. BARR - Of course we were pushing hard to get the new CD done and Miguel was very keen to do it, but two weeks before the studio date Miguel had a huge stroke that left him able to walk, talk etc., but with hardly any long and short term memory... So right now I’m producing the record with them and Héctor Casanova as an alternate singer, on Curuba Music which is my record company. It will be released next month.

L. V. - What stage had the group reached in the recording process when Miguel Quintana had the stroke ? Had all the material to be performed been selected ? Were any tests and demos recorded of this material with Miguel’s voice before it happened to him ?

Roger W. BARR - There are no tests or demos with Miguel. In fact we shelved the project for six months until Ramón came up with Héctor Casanova.

L. V. - Is Casanova working on the Sonero’s material, or did he bring some new material with him ?

Roger W. BARR - Basically, Héctor is a hired gun. It’s all the Soneros’ repertoire but fits Héctor like a glove.

L. V. - Who has been the lead singer of los Soneros since Miguel cannot sing for live shows ?

Roger W. BARR - There have been several leads since and quite often Pedro Domech leads.

L. V. - How is Miguel now ?

Roger W. BARR - Better than he was, but you have to remember he is in his 70’s and it’s unlikely that he will ever sing again.

L. V. - In CANDELA’s website, you mention how Miguel’s got his start with Al Dorsey’s Mambolinos. Do you know if that orchestra made some records with Miguel singing lead or harmony vocals ?

Roger W. BARR - I don’t know about this.

L. V. - As far as I know, Miguel was born in Tampa, Florida. Is that correct ?

Roger W. BARR - Yes. He comes from a cigar rolling familly. Many Cubans lived in Tampa around the cigar factories

Interview by L. Valoy, Jan. 04, 2002.