Pa'lo Monte

Pa'lo Monte


We teach and perform the traditional rhythms and melodies of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Through the teaching of music, dance and specific political and spiritual traditions, we are keeping alive a whole legacy that has been passed down to us from generation to generation.


In 2008, Pa’lo Monte celebrated its 10th anniversary teaching and playing Afro-Dominican cultural music, reminding the Dominican community of the legacies of resistance, joy and survival handed down to them, and inspiring others to recover their own cultural heritage. As a young man, Pa’lo Monte’s founder, Osvaldo D. Sánchez spent much of his time with his brothers, visiting the elders in the countryside, learning the percussive techniques of the African-based music of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, as well as the stories of their arrival on the island. These experiences and the importance of preserving these traditions stayed with him for many years, and in 1998, he formed Pa’lo Monte.

The group’s name speaks to its origins and its purpose. Osvaldo chose the name Pa’lo Monte as a dedication to the elders he learned from, referring to their way of speaking (instead of saying “voy para los montes” – “I’m going to the mountains”, they would say “voy pa’lo monte”). This particular way of speaking is part of the legacy of the Africans who were brought to the island by the Spanish and has been integrated into speech patterns to create a distinct Dominican Spanish language. At the same time, the name refers to the Africans and Indigenous people who lived in the mountains, creating communities of resistance, ensuring the survival of their traditions. The name “Pa’lo Monte” is also a tribute to the spiritual-religious traditions of the Dominican and Haitian people who practice Vodoun and Dominican santería and believe that the mountains are a site of magic and mystery, a place where ritual and healing occur.

Ten years later, Pa’lo Monte has developed into one of the premiere Afro-Dominican and Haitian traditional groups in New York City, highlighting a model for collaboration between artist and social justice communities, and demonstrating the importance of these cultural workers in the liberation of their people. Over the last ten years, Pa’lo Monte has responded to the communities’ cries for support in organizing around issues such as justice for immigrants, an end to violence against women, the movement for peace, and the call for unity between Dominicans and Haitians. The political-mystical messages of Pa’lo Monte’s songs have often provided a force that moves people to action, both literally and figuratively, providing spiritual uplift for troubled times and motivation to join the struggle for a better world.

Over the past ten years, Pa’lo Monte has transformed from a musical ensemble into an Institution for the teaching and preservation of African and Indigenous cultural traditions from the Dominican Republic and Haiti. It has provided lectures and skill-building workshops in diverse venues from elementary schools to the United Nations. Pa’lo Monte’s founded the Afro-Caribbean Festival in Honor of Liborio Mateo (2003 – 2007), which celebrates the life and teachings of one of the cimarrones, or leaders of African and Indigenous resistance in the Dominican Republic, providing an innovative means of educating the communities about the legacy of struggle that they have inherited, and reframing modern struggles within this context. New work by Pa’lo Monte combines traditional and popular elements of Dominican and Caribbean music that will yield a more dispersed understanding of the political and spiritual significance of these traditions.

OSVALDO SANCHEZ is the Founder and Director of Pa'lo Monte. He is a percussionist, musician, composer, dancer and teacher of Afro-Dominican and Haitian folk music, dance and culture. His life work is to preserve and defend the African and Indigenous cultural traditions of Dominican and Haitian people.

He began his artistic career at the age of seven when he worked with the Dominican Children’s Folkloric Ballet, eventually moving on to work with other companies, and with notable artists such as Luis Díaz, AsaDifé, and Noo Voo Doo, among others. Today, Osvaldo continues to teach Dominican and Haitian folklore through drumming, song, and dance workshops in universities, cultural institutions, public schools, and for private lessons.

Osvaldo is also the Founder and Producer of the Afro-Caribbean Festivals in Honor of Liborio Mateo, which took place each June in New York City from 2003 through 2007. This festival was held in honor of a Dominican cultural, political and spiritual leader and as an effort to contribute to the positive development of the Dominican Community in New York City. In recognition of this important cultural work, Osvaldo has been named the United State spokesperson for the Palma Sola Foundation, the organization created by Liborio Mateo’s community.

In 2004, Osvaldo and Pa’lo Monte were recognized by New York State Senator Eric T. Schneiderman and Alianza Dominicana, a local community based organization for their work contributing to the preservation of Dominican and Haitian cul


La Buena Noche

Written By: Traditional Dominican Folklore (w/ additions by Osvaldo D. Sanchez)

Woa oh oh, woa oh oh (coro)
Buenas noches
Ya llegamos
Yo vi una paloma blanca que volaba (2X)
Que era el espíritu santo que bajaba (2X)
Camino a la capital me salió el Diablo (2X)
Nos pusimos a discutir tremendous hermanos (2X)
Que le pasa al palo alto que no suena? (2X)
El que no quiere esconderse pues resuena (2X)
Que le pasa al palo alto que no suena?
Que no se quiere esconder pues resuena (2X)
El pájaro más bonito es la cotorra (3X)
Porque tiene plumas verdes y plumas rojas (2X)
El pájaro que más huye es la guinea (2X)
Como no es que va a huir no es de manea (2X)
Buenas noches caballeros y primos hermanos (2X)
Dénme usted la mano estoy llamando
Buenas noches
Ya nos fuimo’

La Situacion

Written By: Osvaldo D. Sanchez

Y ahora, qué le vamos a hacer?

CORO: Oh oh oh ay, y ahora?

A la situación
Que están aprovechando
De la humildad
De esa pobre gente, ay Dios
De la tradición
No tienen respeto
Cultura ancestral
Pero si le digo
Cuidado con Dios
Cuidado mañana
Respeten a Dios
Y después a los seres
Don Sixto Miniel
Respeto pa’ usted
Y a los dos cofrados
Y a todos los cofrados
De allá a Villa Mella
Los están atracando
Que ya no hay respeto, ay Dios

Qué le vamo’ a hacer?
A la situación
Que están aprovechando
De la humildad, por Dios
De esa pobre gente
De la tradición
Cultura ancestral
Qué le vamo’ a hacer?
Respeten a Dios, ay Dios mío, es que ya no hay respeto
Qué le vamo’ a hacer?
Don Sixto Miniel
Ay que frustración
Respeto pa’ usted de parte mía
Y a todos los cofrados
Zona de los morenos
Qué le vamo’ a hacer?
Cuidado con ellos los urbanos
Que le van a robar
Toda la energía, ay Dios
Porque son muy buenos
Buenos para nada
No saben de eso
Por eso lo hacen
Qué le vamo’ a hacer?
Oh oh oh
Oh papa
Qué le vamo’ a hacer?
Qué le vamo’ a hacer?

No hay respeto
No hay respeto

CORO: No hay respeto, no hay respeto

Ay Dios mío
Y qué es esto?
Se jodieron
Se jodieron
Que basura
El dinero
La cultura
La liquidan
A la gente
Se la comen
Se lo comen
Que Dios los amparen


Pa' Pa'lo Monte (2005)

Set List

A typical set lasts one hour and a half and includes a set list featuring many of the traditional Afro-Dominican/Haitian rhythms:
(Song title - name of rhythm in parentheses)

La Buena Noche (palo)
Palo de Muerto (palo de muerto)
Lamberoreo (congo)
La Situacion (congo)
Palma Sola para Papa Liborio (palo)
Virgen de Altagracia (Salve)
Pa' Luisin (sarandunga)
Dame la mano (jacana)
Goliath y David (guloya)
Rebeldia (palo)
Las mujeres estan llorando (palo)
Palo pa' Africa (palo)
Criminelo (palo)
Ogun Balenjo (palo)
Dulce Miel Anaisa (palo)
Lamento (letania - a capella)
Gaga pa' Nueva York (gaga)
Medley of traditional gaga songs (gaga)
Cristiana (oshan)
Gran Bois (petwo)
Con Dios vinimos y con Dios nos vamos (palo)

The sets combine original music and lyrics with traditional Afro-Dominican and Haitian standards.