Given the level of appreciation for salsa music he’s witnessed locally, German Cantillo says he could see a “Salsa in Surrey” dance happening monthly, if not more.
“A lot of friends and people I talk to, they want this kind of an event in Surrey with a live band, not just in Vancouver,” said Cantillo, guitarist and vocalist with Santa Lucia LFR (santaluciamusic.com).
On Oct. 26, the band will expand and evolve into La Orquesta Santa Lucia LFR for a night of salsa music and dance at Surrey Arts Centre’s Studio Theatre.
It’ll be the second event in the Come Dancing Around the World series, launched in September with a performance by local Celtic-folk trio Tiller’s Folly.
Cantillo, who lives in the Panorama area and works in North Surrey, has played a mix of Latin, funk and rock sounds with Santa Lucia LFR – hence the LFR tag – for several years, with a ”Less Talk More Funk” album due out next spring. Back in 2012, the band opened for Los Lobos at Surrey Fusion Festival, among many other outdoor gigs they’ve done.
Today, the La Orquesta Santa Lucia version of the band features musicians from Santa Lucia LFR plus others, from regions around the world including Cantillo’s native Nicaragua, Panama, Canada, Cuba, Honduras, El Salvador and Korea.
“This has been a secret tradition I started in Surrey for the past three years,” Cantillo explained, “and every year the secret gets out and the dancing gets out of hand when people discover the raw and classic live salsa music produced by local La Orquesta Santa Lucia.”
In addition to Cantillo at the mic, the 10-piece band includes Byron Russel (alto sax), Ian Seekings (trombone), Michael Kim (trumpet), Yaniuska Lopez (flute/vocals), Ruben Sandoval (piano), Alex Kelly (bass) and percussionists Rafael Cajar, Luis Lopez and Hector Aguilar.
The band’s “robust and atypical” horn section adds punch to its classic salsa rhythm section, Cantillo said. “We combine the vibrant rhythms and melodically-rich elements of old-school salsa with an ambitious goal to expose Surrey audiences to world-class Salsa music, paying homage to the elegant Latin dance and salsa romantica orchestras of the 1980s and ’90s, and to bestow swinging rhythm bliss upon the Surrey salsa dance scene.”
The Salsa in Surrey event on Oct. 26 is presented in partnership with FUSIONpresents and Surrey Music City Centre, an initiative backed by Surrey Board of Trade and created to raise the profile of live music in the city.
Tickets are $24 for the 19+ event, with cabaret seating. To buy, visit tickets.surrey.ca or call 604-501-5566.
Cantillo said the arts centre’s studio theatre is more than suitable for such an event, which will start with a mini salsa lesson for those keen to learn the steps.
“A lot of people don’t know about the place, which is great for music and dancing,” he said. “This is a one-off that hopefully becomes a semi-permanent event, because what I’m trying to sell is having a place where people here in Surrey can go to experience a live band like ours, in a nice place.”
Launched in 2018, the city’s Come Dancing Around the World series will continue in 2020 with a Soulsha night of Afro-Celtic Funk from the city of Boston (Feb. 22) and Caribbean Night in Surrey (April 25, featuring The Phase III Steel Drum Band).