El maestro de ceremonias (The Master of Ceremonies)

El maestro de ceremonias (The Master of Ceremonies)

Cuba Series - Painting #15
January 2017
Acrylic on canvas - 36" x 48" 

Most cities in Cuba have at least one boisterous music venue where locals and tourists alike gather to hear traditional Son(Cuban dance music). They usual operate under the name Casa de la Trova or Casa de la Musica. I found one of these joints in the far eastern town of Baracoa in Guantanamo provence.

With a small bar in the back, a rickety stage up front and wooden chairs pushed up against the walls (leaving room for the inevitable breakout of dance), the venue had a cozy, intimate feel. Before the band began to play, the audience was warmed up by the man portrayed in this piece, Jorge Romero Abad, AKA ¨Yoryi".

Yoryi has been the host and master of ceremonies at the Casa de la Trova in Baracoa for over a decade. His amiable and animated approach has made him somewhat of a cultural figure in the community and a veritable mascot of the venue. 

His warm up mainly consists of cracking jokes and comparing audience members to famous people they resemble. An Asian tourist would be announced as "Bruce Lee". A nerdy Brit with glasses and a bowl cut was "Bill Gates". This was all delivered with a wry smile and a wink in a very broken English. As cheesy as it was he had the audience rolling and was able to create an atmosphere of fun. In between songs he danced with audience members and would occasionally join in on vocals with the band. The entire evening seemed to ride on his coattails and the crowd was more than willing to go for the ride. 

The man knows what he's doing. I can't wait to go back one day and see him work the crowd again.
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