Fresh, driving, lively and bold, the formidable and eclectic Los Ciegos Del Barrio commands upbeat yet fun-loving music and silly but often philosophical
lyrics in their new album "¿Por Que? ¡Porque…!" Their music can best be described as a multi-genre Latin music including aspects of merengue, bachata,
West African music, salsa, reggaeton and Latin rock to name a few. The album name translates to "Why? Because...!" which is meant to symbolize their
pride in incredible musical diversity and spirit. Los Ciegos Del Barrio, an all blind band as their name implies, has had their music dubbed "impressive"
by El Pueblo Latino and "rocking...rollicking revelry" by Elyse's County Journal of Connecticut.
With an increasing influx of Internet and terrestrial radio play and interview requests, Los Ciegos has enjoyed a plethora of underground exposure and
continues to reaffirm their great artistry in the Tri-State region, as they have played all kinds of shows from festivals, to school functions to college
parties to corporate functions. Their signature reggaeton track, “Ciegueton,” has received much positive feedback, including an accolade of Track of the
Week on the Latin Charts of Garageband.com. Los Ciegos Del Barrio is truly the most professional, hard working, yet fun loving band you'll ever come across.
They do not disappoint.
Alvin Suarez - Vocals, Drums, Lead Guitar, bongos, Tambora, band director
Derek Suarez - Vocals, Bass, keyboards, Congas
Machete - Vocals, keyboards, Harmonica, Accordion, bongos
Jaime Diaz - Vocals, Bass, Rhythm Guitar
Jimmy Fontanez - Vocals, Drums, bongos, Congas, Tambora, Guira
Angel Dueno - Timbales, Guira
Tony Jimenez - bongos, Congas, Timbales
1998 - Self titled demo. (out of print as it was cassette only.)
2000 - "No Lo Dude" which features our first underground hit "Dime Donde Estas" which was a Bachata and was our first song to get radio airplay. it was also a #1 hit on the former MP3.com website.
2003 - "Dominando" which features our smash underground hit "I Will Survive". it is our own version of the 70's classic tune. To date, it is our most popular song of all time and is still very much supported by the public. This CD also featured our first Merengue to get radio airplay called "Y Sigues Hablando". both songs were former #1 hits on MP3.com.
2007 - "Sound in Sight Volume 1" (Compilation) This compilation sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind features different blind artists from around the US. It featured our single "Brown Eyed Girl" which is the classic 60's tune. We've remixed it since and placed it on our latest album.
2009 - "¿Por Que? ¡Porque…! " This is our latest CD which is our best one yet. it features our underground hit "Ciegueton" which is our own version of Reggaeton. It has hit #13 on GarageBand.com. We also have another tune "Yo volvere (Homenaje A Savana Iglesia)" which has hit #17 on the same Latin chart. it also has our version of the 80's classic "Don't You Want Me" which is quickly getting international recognition.
Review of "Ciegueton" on GarageBand.com by fellow artist "clementeduran" from Bronx NY.
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Great Song - Interesting Concept Love this song. The part that stands out for me the most is the c...Great Song - Interesting Concept
Love this song. The part that stands out for me the most is the catchy, melodic hook. It does its job as I still have it in my head even after the song
is over. I like the fact that the same hook is done in a variety of ways. The first two are doubled, the next has the commercial-sounding pitch correction
and the last is more natural with the singer singing it his way. It takes away from the repetitiveness and keeps it interesting.
Now let's talk about the singer. He's got an amazing voice! It's very commercial, clean, confident, powerful, original, experienced and well-trained. If
he sings all of the songs for this group, they can go all the way. His tonation is very good and he doesn't particularly sound like anyone. I can't even
say who he reminds me of.
Now for the overall production. I love the concept. It's almost like a watered-down regueton that is family-friendly. It sounds like something you would
hear on a resort. It reminds me of sitting on a beach in the sun, sipping pina coladas, watching kids play and people dance. Regueton was probably not
meant to be that way, but if anyone can change regueton and put it on the world map, it's this group - if they really want to. The rap adds life to it
as well, though I kind of got lost during the first verse. I had no idea what he was talking about. The second verse was more clear - something to the
affect of how the regueton market is. Something tells me that this group doesn't particularly like regueton. To their credit, the lyrics don't seem to
More on the production. The length of the song is perfect and radio-friendly. I like the changes in rhythms, it gives the song variety without making it
lose its drive. The instrumentation is unique with an accordion, a couple of guitars and synths. I like the tropical feel of the percussion and piano.
The voices are well mixed. The singer's voice sounds very big, helped out by some serious echo, nice effect. The rap sounds very powerful and is well-performed.
The backing vocals are out of the way, but audible - the way they should be.
The ideas are creative and the concept is very clever. It sounds like a fusion of regueton, slow merengue, rap, cumbia and R&B. . Fusion is definitely
in. Most songs that are bilingual tend to lose their audience, but because of the simplicity and effectiveness of the vocal hook, this song can break that
trend. In other words, I think this song can be played on any radio station - Spanish or English - and be enjoyed by everyone, even if not everyone understands
all of the lyrics.
If there is anything I would do differently, it would be the end of the song. After the last hook, where the singer is giving his big finish, it becomes
a little too busy. There are too many voices going on at the same time. I'm not a fan of shout-outs, but I'm sure that the band has a reason for them,
so I wouldn't take them away. Overall, a fantastic song and a chart-topper. Keep up the great work guys!
from Bronx, New York
Latino Band's New CD Honors Late Blind Poet: Proceeds Support Performing Arts Scholarship
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New York, NY (June 29, 2009): "¿Por Que? ¡Porque…!" the latest CD from NYC Latino band Los Ciegos De...New York, NY (June 29, 2009): "¿Por Que? ¡Porque…!" the latest CD from NYC Latino band Los Ciegos Del Barrio was released Tuesday, June 23. It pays tribute
to the late blind poet/educator/activist Mary Anne Parks. Through August 31, 25% of proceeds from the sales will help support a scholarship set up in her
Click on "Buy" and the DigStation link.
"We would like to thank the members of Los Ciegos Del Barrio for this generous and thoughtful gift," said Dennis Holston (31, Manhattan), president of
the non-profit Performing Arts Division of the National Federation of the Blind (PAD, NFB), "This is a fitting tribute to Mary Anne, and I know she would
be excited about this new collection."
Though they never met, Mary Anne's work as Performing Arts Division secretary touched their lives. Los Ciegos Del Barrio is featured on PAD's "Sound in
Sight" CD, a multi-genre compilation of 18 original tracks and covers all donated by blind recording artists. The CD, available at:
Or, from CDBaby at:
celebrates the talents of blind Americans and raises funds which support PAD's work. Mary Anne was instrumental in bringing the project to fruition.
"Although I never had the pleasure of meeting Mary Anne personally," says Los Ciegos Del Barrio group leader Alvin Suarez, "we know she had a significant
hand in including us in "Sound in Sight." I never got a chance to thank her personally. We recognize how dear Mary Anne was to so many people and we understand
how incredibly energetic and sweet she was and it was certainly devastating to us when we learned about her passing."
According to Holston, a talent recruiter for the Manhattan-based Visionary Media Company who is in his second term as PAD's president, copies of the new
Los Ciegos del Barrio CD will be sold at the NFB's upcoming national convention in Detroit (July 2-8); proceeds from these sales will also support the
Mary Anne Parks Performing Arts Scholarship.
Parks was killed at age 31 when a car broadsided the Hands on Atlanta van in which she was riding. A master's candidate who held several leadership positions
in the National Federation of the Blind, Mary Anne was on her way to do volunteer teaching at the time of her death.
"Los Ciegos Del Barrio" is a multi genre Latin music group. They play Merengue, Bachata, Salsa, Cumbia, Reggaeton, and Rock music in both English and Spanish.
"Los Ciegos Del Barrio" literally translates to "The Blind Boys from the Hood". The name was originally meant to be a joke, but they ended up keeping it
as an ice breaker. Most of the band members, who have been playing together since 1997 and recording since 2000, are legally blind.
Members include: Alvin Suarez - Band director, lead guitar, drum kit, percussion and vocals. Derek Christopher Suarez - Bass, Congas, percussion and vocals.
Jaime Diaz - Rhythm guitar, bass and vocals. Machete - Keyboards, harmonica, accordion, percussion and vocals. Jimmy Fontanez - Tambora, bongos and percussion.
Angel Dueno - Guira and timbales. He's the only member who's actually not visually impaired. Angel and Jimmy both live in upstate New York.
For further information about Los Ciegos del Barrio, call: (718) 886-8686, or visit the group's MySpace page at:
Día de los Inmigrantes en la ciudad de Pittsfield
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Día de los Inmigrantes en la ciudad de Pittsfield Posted by elpueblolatino/about El Pueblo Latino...Día de los Inmigrantes en la ciudad de Pittsfield
El Pueblo Latino
April 23, 2009 06:10AM
Edición # 338,
Foto por Anita Rivera
Por Anita Rivera
El Centro de Inmigrantes de Berkshire celebró el Día de los Inmigrantes el pasado 18 de abril en el salón de actividades de la Primera Iglesia Bautista
en la ciudad de Pittsfield. Es la sexta vez que el evento estilo feria se lleva a cabo con el propósito de proporcionar asesoramiento, información, promoción,
apoyo y remisión a los inmigrantes. Durante la feria, las personas se orientan con relación a varios factores cruciales como lo son el estatus migratorio,
el empleo, la ciudadanía, la vivienda y los servicios sociales.
“El año pasado este evento atrajo alrededor de 400 participantes. La gente viene a este lugar para compartir con las demás culturas ya que es un evento
diverso. Aquí encuentran abogados, especialistas en impuestos y sobre todo queremos que sepan que no están solos y que hay muchos beneficios que pueden
aprovechar,” dijo Brooke Mead, coordinadora del evento.
Hubo comida gratis, entretenimiento multicultural y la música estuvo a cargo del grupo Los Ciegos del Barrio, que vinieron directamente del Bronx, New
El grupo está compuesto de 6 músicos y lo más impactante fue que todos son ciegos e interpretan música para todos los gustos desde salsa, bachata, merengue
Elizabeth Cardona, Directora de la Oficina del Gobernador en Western Massachusetts, estuvo representando al Gobernador Deval Patrick en el evento. Liliana
Bermúdez, organizadora del Festival Latino de Lee, también estuvo presente con su grupo de baile folclórico. Bermúdez nos informó que este año el festival
se estará llevando a cabo el 26 de septiembre.
Immigrants Day in Berkshires - Blog entry by Sicilia 3/3/08
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Western MA Coalition for Immigrant & Worker Rights The Western Massachusetts Coalition for Immigr...Western MA Coalition for Immigrant & Worker Rights
The Western Massachusetts Coalition for Immigrant and Workers’ Rights is a group of organizations and community members who advocate, educate, organize,
and mobilize to protect the Human, Civil, and Constitutional Rights of all workers and residents in our communities.
Monday, March 3, 2008
Immigrants Day in Berkshires
The 5th annual Immigrants' Day in the Berkshires was a great success! The four hour event included great dancing and poetry by Williams College students,
music by the Cantilena Chamber Choir, performances by Multicultural Dancers and an amazing band, Los Ciegos del Barrio. Guests had a great time dancing
along, especially the little ones.
Senator Benjamin Downing attended the celebration.
In addition to performances, announcements and speeches, the event offered free consultations with immigration attorneys, general practice lawyers and
tax specialists. There were also workshops on Breast Health by Project Heroa, Financial Education by Berkshire Bank, and Higher Education by Berkshire
Congratulations to the businesses, volunteers and BIC for making the event a great success.
Posted by Cecilia at
NYISE grads tour The Dominican Republic
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NYISE grads tour The Dominican Republic with Project Troubador NYISE Alumni graduates performing i...NYISE grads tour The Dominican Republic
with Project Troubador
NYISE Alumni graduates performing in the Dominican Republic with their band Los Ciegos Del Barrio.
Between October 8th and October 22nd, 2006 NYISE graduates Arnaldo Vargas, Alvin Suarez and Derek Suarez spent two weeks staging performances in schools,
orphanages, old age homes, AIDS patient facilities, etc., in the Dominican Republic with their band Los Ciegos Del Barrio. The trip was organized and financed
, a not-for-profit NGO that uses live performance to bridge cultural, racial, and ethnic barriers and to foster a different view of America and Americans
in the developing world.
Over the two week span, Los Ciegos presented twenty two free performances of their merengue, bachata, and salsa stylings, including one in a school for
visually impaired students in Santo Domingo .
Interest in Los Ciegos and their music ran high at every venue and plans to return with assistance from several local NGOs are already in the works. Project
Troubador's founder and Artistic Director is
, at one time a music teacher for Schermerhorn and Van Cleve students at NYISE.
In this photo above, Arnaldo Vargas is playing the accordion, Alvin Suarez is seated to his right behind a microphone, and Derek Suarez is standing behind
the conga drums.
full sized image
Salisbury Fall Festival
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Noble Horizons, in Salisbury, CT, welcomes chili lovers and music lovers to their Ninth Annual Fall ...Noble Horizons, in Salisbury, CT, welcomes chili lovers and music lovers to their Ninth Annual Fall Festival Chili Cook-Off on Sunday, October 11, from
Noon to 2:00 PM on The White Hart Green. In 2008, hundreds of chili tasters enjoyed over 40 amateur and professional chilies while rocking to the salsa
beat of New York City band Los Ciegos del Barrio. New to the cook-off this year are professional food critics from Food and Wine magazine, Ladies Home
Journal, and the Television Food Network who will judge professional chilies prepared by chefs in the tri-state region!
Cook-Off guests are invited to sample the savory professional chilies as well as taste and vote on their favorite amateur chilies. Voting ends at 1:30
and awards will be announced at 2:00pm. Vegetarian and traditional chilies will be available for take out, or to eat in amidst the rollicking revelry of
Los Ciegos. More information and registration are available at 860-435-9851 or www.noblehorizons.
High Energy Latin Band LOS CIEGOS to Release album “Por Que? Porque!” at Parkside Lounge
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Los Ciegos Del Barrio will release the “Por Que? Porque!” album on Dec 4th at 9, held at Parkside Lo...Los Ciegos Del Barrio will release the “Por Que? Porque!” album on Dec 4th at 9, held at Parkside Lounge on 317 E Houston St. Also joining them is established
Japanese Gypsy rock band Kagero, and the emerging alt ska rock band Dreadbeat Dadz.
– Nov 16, 2009 – Fresh, driving, lively and bold, the formidable and eclectic Los Ciegos Del Barrio commands upbeat yet fun-loving music and silly but
often philosophical lyrics in their new album "¿Por Que? ¡Porque…!" The album can best be categorized as a multi-genre Latin album including aspects of
merengue, bachata, West African music, salsa, rap, reggaeton and Latin rock to name a few. The album name translates to "Why? Because...!" which is meant
to symbolize their pride in incredible musical diversity and spirit. Los Ciegos Del Barrio, an all blind band as their name implies, has had their music
dubbed "impressive" by El Pueblo Latino and "rocking...rollicking revelry" by Elyse's County Journal of Connecticut.
"¿Por Que? ¡Porque…!" is currently being digitally distributed through CDBaby, iTunes and Amazon among others. With an increasing influx of Internet and
terrestrial radio play and interview requests, Los Ciegos continues to reaffirm their great artistry in the Tri-State region. Their signature reggaeton
track, “Ciegueton,” has received much positive feedback, including an accolade of Track of the Week on the Latin Charts of Garageband.com. The National
Federation for the Blind (NFB) has embraced Los Ciegos del Barrio with open arms, and the band has given proceeds from album sales to the Mary Ann Parks
Scholarship put forth by the Performing Arts Division of the NFB.
The CD Release Show will take place at the pleasantly neon-lit Parkside Lounge in the heart of the bustling Lower East Side. The venue is acclaimed for
its well-priced drinks, its spaciousness, and various bar-games, and its high-caliber candlelit musical performance room. Los Ciegos will be joined by
the gifted and talented Japanese Gypsy rock band Kagero and the up-and-coming, driven alternative ska rock band Dreadbeat Dadz, combining to render a
formidable night in music.
Los Ciegos Del Barrio is available for phone interview and possible live interview and performance in the Mid-Atlantic Tri-State region. Please contact
firstname.lastname@example.org for further arrangements.
Please visit Los Ciegos Del Barrio's website at www.losciegosdelbarrio.comfor media and further information. Be sure to visit their online press kit at
for a full bio and downloadable photos. They are also present on social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Myspace.
We cordially invite members of the press to come out and see for yourself what others are just hearing about!
FOR PRESS CREDIENTIALS FOR THE SHOW PLEASE CONTACT email@example.com
The Blind Musician’s Collective is Proud to Present Top Acts at the NYC Shrine Bar, 3-26-2010
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The Blind Musicians Collective of NYC (BEAM NYC) will be presenting acclaimed artists Lachi, Los Cie...The Blind Musicians Collective of NYC (BEAM NYC) will be presenting acclaimed artists Lachi, Los Ciegos Del Barrio and emerging group Dreadbeat Dadz in
concert on Friday March 26 at 8pm for a premier showcase. The showcase will be held at the popular Shrine bar on 2271 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd, NY,
New York, NY (
) March 10, 2010 -- When thinking of a blind musician, we imagine an African-American male with dark glasses on a piano singing R&B, and though Stevie Wonder
and Ray Charles have had their heyday as noteworthy, superb blind musicians in the past, a new wave of modern, hardworking, extremely talented and diverse
visually impaired musicians have materialized at the commercial level in NYC and around the globe representing everything from Singer-songwriter and Rock
to Latin and Ska. Yes, blind individuals have a certain stigma within society of being dependent, feeble and inane; however, the mission of the Blind Musicians
Collective is not only to empower its musicians through fellowship and networking, but to promote them through performance opportunities, and showcases,
in order to dismiss misconceptions. Unlike the organizations of today who claim to aid blind individuals but are bogged down by politics disorganization
and an inability to truly relate, the Collective is set forth for and complete run and supported by highly educated, hardworking, professional blind musicians
in the music industry at a grassroots, realistic and synergetic level.
On March 26th BEAM will showcase some of NYC’s top talents, including the buzzing Rock Songstress, Lachi (and her all blind band) who’s recently signed
a record deal with Fanatic Records (EMI/Capitol) and is showcasing at the South By South West 2010 Music Conference in Austin TX; well-established, high-energy,
multigenre Latin band Los Ciegos Del Barrio who’ve recently released the successful "Por Que? Porque!" album, and the up-and-coming Ska Punk band Dreadbeat
However, these artists are exceptionally above average; their music and performance chops are impeccable, and their diligence and business savvy are just
Some may wrongly assume that these artists are just as good as any other artists out there, yet the only difference is that they are blind. However, these
artists are exceptionally above average; their music and performance chops are impeccable, and their diligence and business savvy are just as impressive.
Expect a stellar, talent-filled line up at Harlem’s own Shrine Bar, popular for its rich musical showcase experiences, well-priced drinks and great food!
There is no cover at the door; however, donations are highly appreciated.
For information visit:
Los Ciegos Del Barrio:
# # #
SOUNDSCAPES | A Limited Vision Musicians' Collective Takes North America
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Culture | Interview with Lachi, and Alvin Suarez of Los Ciegos del Barrio, Mar-Apr 2010 Afro-...
Culture | Interview with Lachi, and Alvin Suarez of Los Ciegos del Barrio, Mar-Apr 2010
Afro-American alternative rock singer-songwriter
has just returned from the American music festival SxSW (South by Southwest) while Latin-American eclectic band leader Alvin Suarez of
Los Ciegos del Barrio
prepares for shows overseas. They took time to talk to HELO about bringing their music to new audiences, about growing up with music while legally-blind,
and about how they’ve worked together for solidarity among limited-vision musicians.
HELO: Thank you very much for talking with HELO Magazine. You guys are united in, would you call it a collective? BeamNYC?
Lachi, singer-songwriter: We’re several visually impaired bands. We get together, do shows, and hang out. We do jam sessions and empower ourselves through
our music with fellowship and getting the word out to New York City and beyond.
H: What about your roots? How did you get into music in the first place?
Alvin Suarez, band leader of Los Ciegos del Barrio: We [distinct from Lachi’s band] are a Latin American band. Our roots represent Puerto Rico, the Dominican
Republic, Cuba, Guatemala, and of course the United States.
We enjoy music from all over Latin America and we enjoy rock music and hip hop, just about anything and everything. Since we’ve been oversees, we’ve actually
picked up music from Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, places like that. Since we’re very passionate about the music we do, we also feel passionate about
other cultures, so we feel that music is really a universal language of culture.
As individuals, we represent the visually-impaired and blind community. The roots of our music represent Latin America.
H: And the name of your band, Los Ciegos del Barrio, for the non-Spanish speaking audience? Where does the name come from?
Alvin: It means “The Blind Boys from the Neighborhood”, but I guess we cut it short and modernized it to “Blind Boys from the Hood.” All of us are legally-blind.
For those who don’t know what legally-blind means, it does mean that we are not totally blind. We do have limited vision, but there’s a certain legal classification
that serves as a border between seeing enough to do activities like drive. The agreed border is 20/200; anything worse than 20/200 but there are other
I have a twin brother. My name is Alvin. My brother’s name is Derek. We don’t see very well at night. We only have maybe five to eight feet of vision, practically
blind at night. But our sight improves when there’s lighting. One of the other guys in the band has cataracts better than we do, but has to hold papers
up to his face to read it. The other three guys are the opposite as my brother and I. They don’t see when it’s light; they see better when it’s dark.
We initially called ourselves Los Ciegos del Barrio as a joke, but the name kind of stuck. It’s an ice breaker. There are some people in our community that
might be concerned with the stigma [potentially related] to the name of the band, but the way we feel is it’s not a weakness for us.
Lachi: For my band, we and Los Ciegos del Barrio share two members. However, I am personally from West Africa and my guitar player is from Trinidad. The
other two members are from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. All of our musical elements, especially the newer stuff we’re trying to write together
combines it all. What we do is rock, but our roots from other cultures come together to make something more unique than just alternative, straight ahead
rock. There are elements of West Indian styles, as well.
We all have our different histories. I can speak for myself on the origins of my music, and it does tie into my vision. When I was a baby, I didn’t learn
how to speak until about the age of three. One of those things that helped me learn how to speak other than people just trying to teach me was when my
mother bought me one of those little keyboards that have like eight notes.
The more I tried to bang on it, the more I was able to speak. I graduated to a bigger keyboard and then several keyboards and then a grand piano, things
like that. As I grew musically, I was able to grow intellectually.
Because I’m visually-impaired, I had issues in school, so I would sort of block myself off and write stories or music. Performing really allowed me to have
an outlet and be myself. When I wasn’t performing, I was just sitting in the corner studying or being really quiet. But when I got up on stage and started
playing piano I was able to show people who I was. That’s when I knew I had to do music. It really did hold my hand and help me grow.
Slow Down Music Video
MySpace Music Videos
H: With the experience of West Africa, was there a stark difference between there and here for you, or not?
Lachi: I wasn’t born in West Africa. My parents and older sisters are from there. However, I go back there all the time. Most of our extended family is
back there. Obviously, things are very different. I went there three years ago and went on a date with a guy. The guy said, "You're very lucky that your
parents were well off enough to allow you to be raised in America because if you were raised here with your blindness you wouldn't have been given any
opportunity to pursue your music career or anything."
I remember going to the bus stop with my parents and there were beggars on the corner. Some didn’t have any arms, and there were a couple who looked fine.
We went over there and found out they were blind, and that was the only thing wrong with them. Therein lies the very special thing about being raised here,
being able to be supported by social workers, being given the music, and having people realize it’s the music that is helping.
Alvin: Often when we go overseas it’s with a nonprofit organization called, Project Troubador. Our former high school teacher, Eliot Osbourne, the founder of
Project Troubador, from the School for the Blind up in the Bronx, took us to Russia. What Project Troubador does is send musicians around to developing
nations. We were priviledged. It was 1992 and we had gone to Russia, right after the Cold War ended.
We noticed that the people housing us from the theater company, a lot of the shows they got us were factories. Lo and behold, the factories had a lot of
blind people working there. In other countries they have a tendency to either isolate and/or institutionalize the blind community. They’ll stick them in
factories or in schools. Some of them will just be at home, not doing anything but being with their families though they’re well into adulthood.
We went to the Dominan Republic. It wasn’t as isolated there for a lot of them. Culturally, a lot of them would still be at home with their families and
be taken care of through their adulthood and middle age and such. But there was a small opening for awareness. We played for a music school for the blind
in 2006. There were a couple blind musicians that made it big from the Dominican Republic.
In a lot of ways we’re very fortunate in this country. We have opportunity and laws and social work and stuff like that helps us along in accomplishing
H: We talked about how people have an issue about livelihoods. Sometimes it’s a class issue where the family has been educated that the barriers are not
insurmountable, where other families do think they’re insurmountable. It boils down to livelihoods. What is this person going to do for their career for
income to support their family? What do you think is that key factor distinguishing the families that empower their child to grow up to earn a livelihood
versus those who discriminate against their own child?
Alvin: It doesn’t take much in terms of economics to be educated enough to know how to view a disabled person. Economics matter for the non-disabled as
much as for anyone. Economics will always be the haves or the have nots. But it’s how you think of a disabled person that matters.
My Mom, for example, had us very young. She was seventeen-years-old with twin boys, and they’re both legally blind. So now she had it really tough. She
didn’t have any money. She didn’t get to finish high school, though she did later on. She made her share of mistakes like we all do when we’re younger
and have our first child. [But] she never raised us like “disabled persons.” She always had us go out and play with the regular kids. She fought so hard;
a lot of schools didn’t really want us.
We weren’t totally blind, so the School for the Blind was hesitant to take us, but we didn’t see well enough for the main stream schools. But our Mom, instead
of feeling sorry for us, bought books and taught us at home [for the first year]. They finally diagnosed us as legally-blind. By the time we were twelve
years old, we were reading twelfth-grade level, so my Mom was able to thumb her knows at the idea that there was something wrong with us. I told you, she
said, it’s just that they can’t see.
We started playing music when we were about ten years old. My father was a musician and used to bring his band over when we were kids before they split
up. We used to pick up the instruments. We would get sound out of it, and enjoy it. When we were a little older, he used to take us to his shows and let
us play on stage with him for the first time.
Lachi: There is definitely a formula of your parents not treating you like a disabled child. I ended up being the sixth of seven children. My mom also had
kids when she was young, and kept having kids. With me—they didn’t know what the problem was, whether I was blind or not. They thought that I had developmental
My mom also fought very hard to make sure I had everything I needed. At home she treated me just as the other kids. However, she did make sure to fight
and make sure I had what I needed as a blind child. I think that’s what distinguishes the strong-willed disabled people from the ones that are really coddled
cause they were coddled while they were younger.
H: Not only for limited vision but for full blindness, how is technology evolving? I’m sure people reading this are wondering about how people with limited
vision keep up on magazines, which are largely photo-visual as well as print. And second, what about technology for creating music without relying on visuals?
Lachi: You know what was funny? I was doing a master’s thesis at New York University on whether blindness has an effect on musical acuity, musical intelligence.
Part of my proposal was that I was going to have an online musical quiz for people who are blind. The first time I sent in my proposal it was rejected.
I asked why, and they said, "We don’t understand how blind people are going to take an online quiz. That doesn’t make any sense." I thought, "That’s so
I’m sure most people know that there are things like screen-readers and text-to-speech and speech-to-text. Those are things that non-blind people use as
well. That’s pretty mainstream. Some of the things they’re coming out with are cool, like the iPod phone; you can do double-tap or different tapping schemes
in order for a blind person to use a touch screen phone. It also has a voice telling you what your options are, so you’re not touching random spots on
the screen. It’s one really awesome feat in technology. Also, there are the simple things like zoom-text.
Not sure if you’re familiar with recording software like ProTools or Cakewalk, but now a lot of blind people are able use recording software because the
recording softwares are compatible with JAWS or have their own built-in screenreaders within the program.
Also, there are musical notes in Braille. Someone can now write out sheet music and scan it in. There’s a program, I think it’s called Dancing Dots. It
can turn sheet music into Braille on paper. One can use the fingers on one hand to feel the notes and then map it out on a keyboard with the other.
H: What gets you riled up about getting your music out there in the music industry these days?
Alvin: A lot of our music comes from deep within. Our minds, our hearts, our experiences. There are things we create the same way an artist would create
a sculpture or a painting or anything that is meaningful to him or her, so every bit of music is meaningful to us. We want to share it. Yes, there’s a
business aspect of it, but as artists and as people who are just proud of our creations and who we are, any chance we get to share it with anyone else
and have it is rewarding for us. It certainly wouldn’t hurt for the industry to get a hold of it, too.
Los Ciegos del Barrio, our music tends to be a bit silly sometimes. We enjoy it when somebody gets one of our jokes, visual or audio. You know when somebody
makes a face, something funny with the eyes, we do it with sound.
H: Your music does sound really vibrant and celebratory, and I did hear one which was a little tongue and cheek.
Alvin: Yeah, “Ciegueton.” That’s track five off our new album. Sometimes we tend to make our statements, and this is part of the reward of creating and
getting our music out. Part of it is getting our message out. In that particular song, “Ciegueton,” we’re not too crazy about the way the reggaeton industry
has evolved, we have a lot of references to a lot of reggaeton artists and hip-hop artists. Part of that music involves self-promotion. We’re the kings
we’re better than everyone, but what will happen is they will put something like a silencer on a shotgun.
I will rap a line “You hide behind the” genre. A lot of people won’t say, I’m the king of reggaeton because then they will offend somebody in the genre
that is huge. They’re not going to say, I’m the king of hip-hop. They will say, I’m the king of the genre. Our thing is, we’re the masters of everything
we do because we actually do feel good about what we do.
We don’t hide behind the genre. We purposely put out a multi-genre album that’s very unlike the industry standard. We combine hard rock and Bachata, and
then we have a reggaeton which has a lot of Latin roots to it, Mexican music, Domenican, Haitian music, or the Haitian-style merengue. Who does that in
And then we have a rock song full of garage sound. We recorded the first bachata that was ever played on the radio re-did as a rock song and we intentionally
made it sound as dirty as possible cause we wanted a raw dirty sound. We play with very high energy and it draws a very good reaction from the public.
H: Lachi, it sounds like you got a new record deal recently?
Lachi: We recently got signed by a record label called, Fanatic Records, distributed through EMI, a bunch of really cool dudes. We were in talks for a while.
The lawyers were going back and forth for about six months. It was very exciting to put my name down on paper, but it’s been in talks for a while. To answer
your previous question about getting my music out there and what riles me up: I do now have the opportunity to distribute the music to a wide international
market. A lot of my songs are very personal. My band members, I love them to death, but I’m the sole songwriter.
Music is really what took my hand and helped me through everything. As a person that was really closed in, I never spoke much, almost clinically mute until
about college. I could always open up completely when it came to music. I could always be my complete self when writing a song. So whenever I sang a song
to someone, they’d be like, oh wow, that’s who you are?
When I opened up in college after having been nearly mute for so many years, it was awkward. I’m pretty sure this is true for everyone: You’ll go out there
and be nice and you’ll go home and then say but this is who you are when alone in your room.
That person that I was out there, that’s part of me, and when I was yelling at that guy that was part of me, and when I was hanging out with my girlfriend
or boyfriend that’s part of me. But now that I’m alone, this is who I am. That feeling of this is who I am is what I get when I’m singing my music. That’s
why I have so much vigor getting my music out. It’s the only way I know to be myself.
H: Your music, you’ve called it rock, it goes across a range of styles of rock from sultry crooning to sultry trip-hop. What are your origins and how would
you describe it?
Lachi: I’ve been calling it piano-driven alternative rock, or jazz-influenced piano-driven alternative rock. People just keep adding things. It’s like a
paragraph now. [Laughs] I listen to the Beatles, Alannis Morisette, Lauren Hill, Smashing Pumpkins, pretty much all over.
Yesterday I was [trying new songs on Pandora.com] and realized that no two artists that I like are in the same genre. My music, I don’t sit there and write
it like, hey I’m a rock artist. I just say I’m going to write a tune. If it comes out rock, it’s rock. Jazzy, it’s jazz. But the label is like, you have
to figure out what you are. I really like it’s out-of-the-box-edness. You can call it alt-rock. [But] it’s really all about the emotion I feel.
H: if you could have a rock music duel, who would you challenge? Somebody you want to jam with, or somebody to take down?
Lachi: Someone I’ve always wanted to open for, write a song with, or at least throw beers back with is Amanda Palmer from the Dresden Dolls. I love her.
I will eat her alive. She’s also a piano-driven rock artist. Definitely her. A lot of people have compared me to Allanis Morisette or Avril Lavigne, Paramour,
or Alicia Keyes, though I don’t see that.
Alvin: In terms of taking bands down, we don’t feel we’re in the big leagues yet, but do believe we’re a big league band full of big league ideas. Anybody
we’d take down is anybody who thinks they can take us down. If we feel like we can take the challenges we have in life, then there’s no band that can challenge
I would have loved to have met John Lennon. He would have been somebody that I admire. Johnny Vantura, a Dominican artist, a merengue legend. Blas Duran
is another one. He kept Bachata on the map when nobody was listening to it. In the ‘80s, a lot of really silly songs. He had this album in the late 80’s,
bunch of goofy songs. A lot of it sentimental, but it was a hit at parties. Anthony Santos. Bob Marley, for his activism.
H: What do you do for fun and catharsis when you’re not performing?
Alvin: I have my family. My two twin daughters. My step-son. A wife at home. Work. I’m actually a central-office technician for a telecommunications company.
That’s what has funded my music career. I’m a huge sports fan. Listening to CDs. Throwing a beer back.
Lachi: I jog. I work during the day for the Department of Health in New York City. I have a boyfriend, don’t know if that’s a responsibility. [Laughs] Actually,
I do a lot of writing. Apart from music writing, I write poems, shorts stories, novels. I published a novel; I’m actually working on my second. I like
web design. I like to throw musical showcases with friends .
Alvin: Lachi’s been a great friend of ours. That’s always appreciated.
H: Thanks very much for joining us. A lot of our readers are going to enjoy checking out you music.
Downtown Sounds extends summer run
[+ Show ]
Downtown Sounds Extends Summer Run Glen Cove's weekly music concert series scheduled for July 2 t...Downtown Sounds Extends Summer Run
Glen Cove's weekly music concert series scheduled for July 2 through Aug. 27.
Email the author
| June 9, 2010
The City of Glen Cove and the Downtown Business Improvement District (BID) have joined forces to offer an enhanced version of the traditional Downtown
Sounds this summer. The concert series is slated to run every Friday from July 2 to Aug. 27. From left are Councilman Tony Jimenez, Deputy Mayor Maureen
Basdavanos, Downtown BID Executive Director Francine Koehler, Mayor Ralph Suozzi, Councilman Nick DiLeo, Downtown Sounds Chairperson Susan Challender,
radio personality Joseph Manfredi and Councilwoman Delia DeRiggi-Whitton. new
The City of Glen Cove and the Downtown Business Improvement District (BID) have joined forces to offer an enhanced version of the traditional Downtown Sounds
this summer. The concert series is slated to run every Friday from July 2 to Aug. 27. From left are Councilman Tony Jimenez, Deputy Mayor Maureen Basdavanos,
Downtown BID Executive Director Francine Koehler, Mayor Ralph Suozzi, Councilman Nick DiLeo, Downtown Sounds Chairperson Susan Challender, radio personality
Joseph Manfredi and Councilwoman Delia DeRiggi-Whitton.
Kicking off the schedule will be Los Ciegos del Barrio, a multi-genre Latin music group from New York City.
Your photos, videos & PDFs:
The City of Glen Cove and the
Downtown Business Improvement District (BID)
have joined forces to offer an enhanced version of the traditional Downtown Sounds this summer. The series will start on July 2 and run every Friday until
Two Saturday concerts have also been placed on the schedule this year for July 31 and Aug. 21.
The concerts, which will take place in Village Square at the intersection of Glen and Bridge streets, are free.
"Bringing together the resources and experience of the city and the BID has created the next evolutionary step in our drive to make Glen Cove the music
capital of Long Island," said Mayor Ralph Suozzi.
For the past 13 years, the concerts and festivities have become a highly anticipated part of summertime in the city's downtown, according to Francine Koehler,
the executive director of the BID.
"As co-producers of Downtown Sounds with the City of Glen Cove, the Downtown BID is able to open new opportunities to the entire Glen Cove business community,"
The BID created its first free concert downtown in 1997 with Jazz on the Square. Over the years, the concept has evolved to accommodate a variety of musical
styles, with this year's program including jazz, rhythm and blues, rock, folk and Latin music.
Additionally, the 2010 program is partnering with Old Westbury WEB Radio and Old Westbury Television at SUNY College at Old Westbury, to webcast live from
the Plaza. Joseph Manfredi, the radio station's manager and the "Velvet Voice of Downtown Sounds," will emcee each event.
Kicking off the schedule will be Los Ciegos del Barrio, a multi-genre Latin music group from New York City that plays merengue, bachata, salsa, cumbia,
reggaeton and rock in both English and Spanish. The band's name translates to The Blind Boys from the Hood, appropriate since most of the members are legally
blind. They have been playing together since 1997 and have been recording albums since 2000.
"We've selected the various acts via our own research, inquiries from performers, word of mouth from other performers and recommendations from our sound
man, Pat McLaughlin, who works venues throughout the area," Koehler explained.
"We find more and more people want to do things closer to home," added Deputy Mayor Maureen Basdavanos. "Also, since the city has joined forces with BID,
we've expanded the reach of the
Music Box Dinners
by offering participation to all our restaurants."
Participating restaurants will develop a menu including an appetizer/salad, entrée, dessert and beverage for a set price — most likely $15 — while the BID
will provide the packaging. Info will be posted on a display downtown and on the BID's Web site. Customers can order one of the meals from a participating
restaurant, pick it up, then take it downtown to enjoy the music.
Much of the support for Downtown Sounds is via various North Shore businesses. This year, American Community Bank is serving as title sponsor for the second
"Sponsorship of this concert series is a great way to highlight our support for Glen Cove and at the same time connect with potential and existing customers,"
said Janet Knipfing, the bank's president.
The shows, which are slated to begin at 7:30 p.m., are rain or shine events. "We will have a tent over the stage," Basdavanos said, "and in really bad weather,
we will move the show to City Hall."
For more information, visit the BID's
July 2– Los Ciegos del Barrio, salsa, jazz, pop
July 9– The Good Rats with Glen Cove's own Times Ten, classic rock
July 16–The Liverpool Shuffle channel The Beatles
July 23– Soul Sound Revue, the Motown Sound
July 30– 50s Night with The Devotions, The Wrenditions . . . and
, with Sonic and Bliss, Eren Cannata
Aug. 6 – Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, classic swing and jazz
Aug. 13 – Cynthia Scott, former Ray Charles back-up
Aug. 14 – Ian Petillo, jazz and standards
Aug. 20– Parrotbeach, Jimmy Buffet and Island music
Aug. 21 – Les Stanco with special guests, jazz and traditional pop favorites
Aug. 27 – Marvin Floyd and Friends, smooth jazz and R&B
Los Ciegos Del Barrio played during the recent beer fest at the Salisbury Ski Jumps to raise money for the Jane Lloyd Cancer Fund and the Salisbury Winter Sports Association.
[+ Show ]
Republican - American October 20th 2010 By Ruth Epstein “Los Ciegos Del Barrio” or “The Blind ...Republican - American October 20th 2010
By Ruth Epstein
“Los Ciegos Del Barrio” or “The Blind Guys from the Neighborhood” played during the recent beer fest at the Salisbury ski jumps to raise money for the Jane Lloyd Cancer Fund and the Salisbury Winter Sports Association.
Los Ciegos Del Barrio band (Loosely translated; The Blind guys from the Hood) had those attending the recent beer fest at the Salisbury Ski Jumps moving to its fast-paced rhythms. But along with the praises and compliments from the listeners came surprise to learn the band’s name is not just a catchy choice: Most of the members are legally blind noted musician Eliot Osborn, who along with his wife, Louise Lindenmeir, created Project Troubador, which seeks to send entertainers to countries throughout the world to work with local community leaders in support of a variety of issues.
The couple and George Potts also comprise the “Joint Chiefs”, a popular local band. But back in the late ‘80’s, when songwriter Osborn was trying to support himself, he took a job teaching music at the New York Institute for Special Education, which serves students with disabilities.
Osborn helped then, 15 and 16 year olds establish a band and find places for it to play. “They played the Village Gate for a month and Project Troubador took them to Russia,”he said. “Some of them have played in South America and Africa. I started out as their mentor and ended up as a roadie.”
The band has a special relationship to the Northwest corner because of Osborn and has played in area towns on many occasions.
Osborn talked about the men’s disability, nothing about being blind doesn’t make one musical. “It’s not a help unless there is talent. You’re special if you have both. This band is unique. They listen to each other. After all, you don’t see music, you hear it.”
Band leader Alvin Suarez said Osborn “Taught us to be professional musicians.” The three main band members, including Suarez’s twin brother Derek, are legally blind and while they had enough sight to read music as youngsters, they couldn’t do it fast enough. “So we learned it by ear. We’re always teaching each other.” Suarez said more than their disabilities making them unique, is that they are a multi genre group. “And we’re also bilingual.”
He talked about the wonderful trips they had throughout Project Troubador. The band will be traveling to Cuba in February. “We basically play 2 to 5 free shows a day in such venues as schools and parks. We’re ambassadors of good will for the people.”
While they would love for the music to be their full-time profession, that hasn’t yet happened. They all have other jobs to pay the bills. The New Yorkers enjoy coming up to the Northwest corner, usually playing in the area about 5 times a year.
“This is the real deal,” said Jay Bradley, a drummer and music teacher at Webutuck High School in Amenia, NY., who was listening to the band at the beer fest.
Por Que Te Quiero (Bachata)
Y Sigues Hablando (Merengue)
Dime Donde Estas (Rock en Espanol...we also do it in Bachata.)
Quitate Del Medio (Salsa)
Brown Eyed Girl (Bachata)
Camisa Negra (We have a cool Reggaeton/rock/cumbia version that we play.)
Feliz Navidad (Punk/Salsa)
Historia De Un Gran Amor (Merengue)
El Preso (Salsa)
La Pollera Colorada (Cumbia)
Voy Pa'lla (Bachata)
It goes on and on.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.