And what a show it was. Wish I had been there. Maria Bacardi departing the stage triumphant, Guild Hall, East Hampton, New York, July 2019, photo by C.B. Grubb
The curiosity all began with the music, Cuban music to be specific. A short history is in order here. I've only been to Cuba once, 15 years ago as part of a family law conference held there, and would love to return. From the airport arrival in Havana, and everywhere else, there was ambient surround sound of melodic live music wafting in the breeze, from pick up bands in public squares and side streets to a chamber music string quintet at breakfast.
For those of you like me have you noticed? There is mostly unwanted, ubiquitous piped in music seemingly everywhere these days, becoming louder over time from elevators to office lobbies, from my dentist's chair to shopping aisles. Surround sound from live excellent musicians and singers was entirely different in Cuba. I loved it and it turned me onto Cuban music. It's something about the rhythms that soothe me. I cannot explain more fully except to say the music hits me in vulnerable areas of my being, both permeable and shaken.
Behind the process of making "Duele". New Album by Maria Bacardi.
So when I heard about Maria Bacardi, I was immediately intrigued. She is a dear friend of a new dear friend with whom we mutually share a dear friend. This is an example of the 'Rule of 150' a.k.a '6 Degrees of Separation' at work. In other words if being social animals in an age of rampant loneliness it might assist to be reminded that as a species hard wired by necessity to hold space for a tribe loosely numbered at 150. Anyone we know, might lead to others whom we want to know. In this way community building builds organically.
Singer, actress, artist, poet Maria wears many hats. As for Bacardi's interest in reviving the bolero, a number of sources converge. Bolero started as a slow dance done alone or with a partner. Soon after sad story telling songs were written to accompany the movement with themes of personal pain, loss and partial redemption popular in Cuba in the 1950's. Growing up, boleros were an everyday favorite of Barcardi's mother to sing wherever she was, out loud from her living room, the garden, in a car.
Singing these songs with a friend to mourn Maria's mother's passing, to keep her memory alive is remarkable enough. To Maria's friend encouraging her to assemble a band to rearrange the old songs and perform as a chanteuse of stage -- that's amazing remarkable in my world. To take it upon oneself, to evolve this vintage genre, to leave one's mark and lead a new branch of growth forward on the tree of life is a beautiful thing and testament to a legacy of surviving with grace under pressure which is an emergent theme in the bolero itself. This is what makes music a living art.
Certain tropes set us on fire. It's those that bring struggle and will together to turn angst into art. Like a starter yeast, by my highly idiosyncratic reckoning, there is one basic trope from which all other tropes emerge. It goes like this: "Love is FOUND, Love is LOST and LOVE is re-found." Repeat these bitter sweet sweet bitter moves and you might better understand and work with the fact that manifestation is and will always be an admixture of broken and healed, healed until broken again. It is our charge in life to be gutsy, to re-heal, restart, revivify and then soar before another sidelong crash with the broken qualities of reality.
Inspiration and lessons for life are created and destroyed in the context of human touch. Meeting Maria IRL rededicates me to cultivating a curious open mind set of life long learning. To stay relevant and wanting to leave a footprint, a mark in a good way, then perhaps I can too.
The next best thing to being a lamp lighter for another is to become a fan of someone who is on the path doing the work. The goal is with courage and self compassion for new beginnings, over time to replicate the impulse in my own way and succeed in my own way. To have the grit to take on such a feat is the antidote to the troublesome news all around us.
Maria makes the bolero a living thing applicable to today's particular challenges. Using the bolero she wills herself from a private diva of sound for the modern ear, born out of and therefore helpful in dark times present in the best and worst of circumstances. Nurturing the creative impulse in others by nurturing it in oneself advances the effort but it takes more than focus and talent. It takes perseverance, it's a marriage of sorts, through thick and thin, to take one's passions seriously.
One place Maria has focused her laser like will and attention is the performing arts incubator the Water Mill Center founded by avant garde theater director and playwright Robert Wilson. With the modernist classical composer Philip Glass, they're most widely known for 'Einstein on the Beach.' Think of Wilson as the Jean Cocteau of our time who also wore a lot of hats according to my new dear friend's 'fiance' Bill.
BAM published an excerpt from the 1984 film Einstein on the Beach: The Changing Image of Opera
How does this all come together? After reading all her press after the recent release of 'Duene,' Spanish for tears, on the heals of 'Deseo' Spanish for desire, listening to the music and sharing it with others, there is an insistent community hungry to have an outlet to cry one's heart out on a regular basis in order to get it out of one's system and clear the path to another day of mortal coil battle. Boleros have a knack for representing what is right in front of you in a way that makes you see it as if for the first time.
Like Maria and her mom, all of humanity, of all stripe also look where to pour our hearts out in a very elemental way. Maybe for a moment, there's a chance to restore and reset my nervous system to a better place. Having the bolero for a new generation is just that.
María Bacardí, artist, musician, and member of the famous Bacardí family, talks about her new musical album, "Deseo."
Tara Fass, LMFT #35078, is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles, California. She treats adults and couples dealing with a broad range of issues from navigating the legacy of divorce in one's life, to the quarter life crisis and conscious aging. Together we attempt to make meaning [...]