Way back when, when I was just getting acquainted with the Perera sisters, my then-future sister-in-law Idoris introduced me to the legendary Cuban musicians Hansel y Raul. I’ve been a fan ever since.
Their music is happy music.
You don’t need to understand Spanish to figure that out.
Just listen with your heart and let your body do what it wants to do naturally!
Hansel y Raul music speaks the universal language of rhythm, fine musicianship, and good times.
They have been part of our household as long as I have been in Miami and a special part of every New Year’s Eve celebration in our home along the way.
There is something about their music and New Year’s. They just go together!
One of the things I’ve heard consistently from Idoris over the last few years is that when her time comes she only wants three things for her funeral: A pack of cigarettes, a bottle of rum, and Hansel y Raul.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Hansel y Raul for¡Viva Conga! before their show at Miami’s Dejavu Nightclub.
They are both very gracious and patient. Raul happened to notice me setting up for the interview and went out of his way to come over and introduce himself and say hello.
Press PLAY to enjoy our exclusive Viva Conga interview with Hansel y Raul!
For my first question, I told them about Idoris’s “last request” and asked if they would consider singing at her funeral. Without a moment of hesitation, they said “Sure!”.
Hansel told me it wouldn’t be the first time they sang at a funeral.
He explained how Hansel y Raul had the honor of performing at Maestro Cachao’s funeral in 2008.
Bass player Israel “Cachao” Lopez has been credited as the inventor of the mambo.
During this ¡Viva Conga! exclusive interview, Hansel described their style as typical Cuban music called Charanga: “played with two violins, a flute, and a rhythm section. We went a little overboard and decided to integrate a brass section”.
When we asked if they have anything to offer a new artist trying to make a career in music, Hansel advised ”be persistent, overcome the obstacles. It is very hard. It was hard for us, and now it is even harder. Believe in what you’re doing and keep on going”.
I wondered who Hansel y Raul has on their favorites list. Raul: “I really like Ruben Blades. He’s a great singer and a great actor”.
Hansel leans towards old-school and mentioned “The songs that I write are a mixture of Orquesta Aragon, Benny More, and John Lennon”.
I have to admit Hansel’s bow to John Lennon came as a surprise. He noted John Lennon doesn’t have much to do with Cuban music, but he was an inspiration nonetheless. It is nice to see Hansel give the shout-out to Lennon.
Hansel told Conga TV that they are back in the studio working on album #34.
We are already planning to be on the line awaiting the release!
This was a very intimate show at a nice venue.
Hansel y Raul and the band "La Orchestra de Calle Ocho" played two full sets of their best and biggest hits including “Kukucha Kucha”, “Con La Lengua Afuera”, “Soy”, and “Wanda”.
on left, next to Hansel, is Peter Martin also known as The Cuban Pete...
Pete is one of the members of "La Orchestra de Calle Ocho".
He has played with many of the greats including Arturo Sandoval, Frankie Ruiz, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Pacheco, Celia Cruz, and El Grupo Alma. He has played with
I had a chance to meet Peter after the show and got a nice photo with him and his lady! See the full gallery below.
What a wonderful night of song and dance!
Hansel y Raul are a pleasure to speak with and it is a joy watching them and "La Orchestra de Calle Ocho" perform.
The performance was held in the Dejavu Nightclub, 8488 SW 8th Street, in Miami, Florida. Hosted by Erick and Yaily Rodriguez, the evening was a complete success.
Along with the Dejavu staff, Yaily and Erick (right) were very welcoming and I’d like to extend them a special thank-you for helping facilitate the evening for Conga TV.
Please visit Dejavu and let them know Conga TV says thank you!
You should also visit Erick’s latest project at www.FiestadeNoche.com!
The evening of the show, the Dejavu crowd was a nice mix of well-dressed singles and couples of all ages.
Everyone enjoyed the show and everyone spent most of the evening crowded up close to the stage enjoying the rare intimate performance by these legendary musicians.
There is a generous dance floor, a nice well-stocked bar, plenty of seating, and a kickin’ DJ spinning new and old-school Latin Music tunes between sets.
You can follow @HanselyRaul on twitter. That’s how I found out about the show! As soon as I saw the tweet announcing the show I reached out their management and arranged for Conga TV to be there. I’m very happy that I was.
It was a very special experience and something I’ll always remember.
If you ever get a chance to see them, run fast, and get your own tickets. It will be well worth it.
Press play below to see the Conga TV Gallery of full-size hi-definition photos!
Hansel Enrique Martinez and Raul Alfonso were born in Cuba. Their musical careers began in 1976 in New York City as vocalists and co-founders of the world famous Charanga 76'.
In 1980 they moved to Miami, Florida and formed Hansel y Raul, often considered the most successful duo in the history of Latin tropical music.
Their contagious beat spread from Tokyo to Madrid, from Paris to Bogota, from Africa to Mexico. In 1985 Time Magazine announced that Hansel y Raul were “The Greatest Cuban Dance Band in the World”.
They performed for President and Mrs. Reagan at the White House where they shared stage honors with Tina Turner, Barry Manilow and Tony Bennett. In 1987 they were invited to perform at Disney's 15th Anniversary Celebration where they performed in front of a worldwide TV audience of more than 160 million.
More recently, in 2003 they recorded “100% Cubano”...a classic Charanga album with traditional Cuban roots and in 2008 they recorded a live album at the University Of Miami, “Hansel & Raul Live from the U”.
In December 2009, in celebration of their 33 years in the music industry “Hansel y Raul 33” was released with the first single “El Muñequito” hitting the #1 spot in music charts in Venezuela, Peru, and Ecuador and has been certified gold in Colombia.
You bet! That's me in the middle! Very cool beans!
Hansel Y Raul are managed by AER Management of Miami. For Press or Booking information please contact Angel Rodriguez at AER Management. I'd like to extend a special thank you to Angel for setting up the introduction to Hansel y Raul and the interview. We appreciate your help Angel!
Wikipedia (Cachao background)