If Cuba and Canada seem like an unlikely connection, you haven’t lent your ear to the sounds of Adonis Puentes.
“It’s no secret that the music from Brazil, the music from the United States and the music from Cuba is the strongest popular music in this part of life that we are living,” says the musician. “And it’s been like that for more than a century.”
So, how does the son of a famous Cuban musician end up calling Victoria home? “It was my destiny,” he says.
In 1995, Puentes, with his twin brother Alexis (who performs today as Alex Cuba) and their father Valentin Puentes, brought their Cuban sound to Canada, touring from Victoria to Halifax.
“Musicians and people in sports are the people who get to see the planet in Cuba,” he says. He fell in love, both with a woman and with the country, particularly the Island city where he first took the Canadian stage.
The Juno award-winning artist will celebrate 20 years of fusing his Cuban heritage with his Canadian journey this Thursday night (March 29), backed by Voice of Cuba Orchestra at the Capital Ballroom.
“It’s an incredible opportunity to play in Victoria in the way I want to,” he says, referring to the “A+ band” of Cuban musicians he’s lined up for what is both a live show and salsa dancing competition that kicks off with lessons for beginners.
“It’s not every day that I have the opportunity to show up with the most powerful guns to put on a great show,” says Puentes, who will also celebrate his birthday that night.
Dicen, his new album, has been called a “modern Cuban music masterpiece,” but for Puentes, it’s just another snapshot of where he’s at artistically. Recorded in L.A., under the tutelage of producer Oscar Hernandez, it’s the first record of original music from Puentes in almost a decade.
He doesn’t refer to the collection as songs, but revelations; each a different mood, a separate state of mind. A Cuban artist making music in a relatively small city on a Canadian island might seem counterintuitive, but Puentes doesn’t see it that way.
“You can be in the biggest city in the world, but you still have to move, because you are pursuing original music,” he explains. Having worked with some of the best producers and musicians in places like L.A., Miami, and New York, it’s Island life that has given Puentes a space to be himself, to explore his voice.
“It’s the only place where I can drive for hours without using GPS,” he jokes.
His records are picking up steam in Latin American countries like Colombia and Peru – even China.
“It’s that ingredient of making you dance. The music is geared toward the dancer, so there’s no need for English.”
Cuba is one of the few places on the planet where people are still living life through music, he says. He visits often, if nothing else to immerse himself in the music he grew up with, providing the foundation for the journey he’s taken since.
“It’s beyond the songs I write, it’s beyond my voice,” Puentes says. “It’s more [about] passing the point of view and the concepts of a Cuban musician. It’s my musical house. The voice of Cuba is a musical house.”