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Bandstand shows: It’s Havana on the hill!

05 July, 2018 — By Dan Carrier

A previous bandstand event at Parliament Hill Fields

THE annual summer concert series on Parliament Hill Fields kicked off last week, with a scintillating performance by jazz guitar legend John Etheridge.

The concert series now runs every weekend during the summer, offering free shows on the bandstand near the Highgate Road entrance to Hampstead Heath.

Organised by the City of London’s Heath events manager, Paul Maskell, among those playing include Kentish Town-based Dig It Sound System and Cuban music band Son Yambu.

Dig It take the stage tomorrow (Friday) night from 7pm in what has become an NW5 must-do for dance music lovers, playing a broad range of tunes that takes in reggae, funk, hip-hop, house and drum and bass. Huge crowds are expected for the gig that has become a big draw in the Heath’s annual calendar and includes an after-show party with the Dig It DJs at the Dartmouth Arms in York Rise, NW5.

Son Yambu will perform at the bandstand on Sunday, July 15

Toby Herschman is the leader of Son Yambu, which draws on traditional Cuban music and has six musicians appearing (Sunday July 15, as part of the Give It A Go festival, from 1pm, free). He said:

“We play a style called Cuban Son, which is music from the east of the island and was the precursor to Salsa.

“It has been popularised in recent times by the likes of the Buena Vista Social Club, but hit the global stage in 1927 when a trio of Cuban musicians were booked to play at the World Fair in New York.

“They played a tune called The Peanut Seller and it became a global hit.”

Toby first came across the style of music in the early 1990s when he saw Cuban singer Celia Cruz perform at the Hammersmith Palais with the Tito Puente Big Band and was instantly hooked.

“Cuban music is incredibly uplifting,” he said. “We play a mixture of old standards and new, original songs in the style of Son. It led to such styles as the Cha Cha Cha, Rumba and Mambo – its influence is very much still with us today. And for such a small island, the Cubans have given us an incredible legacy, music-wise.”

He added: “I grew up in Camden, so playing on the bandstand is like a homecoming gig for me.”


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