Presented by World Music/CRASHarts
Review by Gillian Daniels
(Somerville) “Let’s dance the dance of the Devil! One step forward and two step backward!” said Bruno “Sergent” Garcia through his thick French accent. It was right in middle of his performance at Johnny D’s this past Thursday and the audience, including the couples who had gotten up to dance, responded with a cheer. Then the Sergent and the Cumbiamuffin All Stars launched into their next, Caribbean, Afro-Columbian tinged
This moment, for me, perfectly distilled the excitement the band builds in its listeners.
It also shows what World Music/CRASHarts is attempting to accomplish in bringing
international bands to Boston.
With band members who from Columbia, Spain, France, and Cuba, Sergent Garcia
manages a lot of conflicting tones. Instead of a raucous cacophony, though, he and the
Cumbiamuffin All Stars maintain a happy, relaxed rhythm. The calm of reggae is infused
with the upswing of salsa, ska, or even punk. I wouldn’t call his music particularly
devilish, but I would certainly call it a release, a transmutation of passions into a crisp,
Sergent Garcia is not so much a cocktail as a perfectly synthesized margarita of music.
It’s a pull on a stiff, sweet drink. One song blended into the next so seamlessly, I
imagine the audience was lulled into too much of a chill and, so, were hesitant to
participate. By the time the concert had begun to wrap up, that hesitance had dissolved.
His style is one of musical genre contradictions, a well-oiled machine pieced from
disparate parts. For example, I can’t recall seeing an accordion share the same stage
with a pair of bongos before. I’m sure it’s happened in living memory, but it wasn’t
something I’d had the pleasure of wrapping my mind around. Maybe it’s a combination
that wouldn’t work for other musicians, but it works for them.
Due to its proximity to Davis Square Station, I have passed Johnny D’s hundreds of times
but have never seen a concert there. It’s more than a bar, a venue that exudes warmth and welcome once you’re inside. It’s a jewel in the West Somerville area and I look forward to returning.
As mentioned in my write-up prior to the concert, Bruno Garcia, originally a renowned
DJ, fuses music gleaned from a European, punk upbringing in France with a passion for
Latin and Caribbean rhythms. He and the Cumbiamuffin All Stars combine jazz, reggae,
hip-hop, and salsa for an energetic genre he has affectionately dubbed, “salsamuffin.”
I’m not sure about the name, but I’d definitely be willing to call the music “good.”