Musicabana Foundation is celebrating improved relations between the U.S. and Cuba by putting on a special event in May – the “first international music festival produced by American and Cuban partners in 30 years.” The nonprofit organization has also booked a March gig with Major Lazer.
While the U.S. waits for Congress to follow through on President Obama’s suggestion to “lift the embargo,” Cuba is ready to party.
Major Lazer gets things started with a March 6 show on Havana’s waterfront at La Tribuna José Martí. The EDM group – made up of Diplo, Walshy Fire and Jilionaire – plans on meeting with Cuban music students and sharing its stage with up-and-coming DJs.
“For as long as I can remember, Cuba has played an influential role in my love of music – Cuba has such a powerful cultural impact all over the world, and for me, especially growing up in Florida, it became one of the biggest cultural centers for music to evolve from,” Diplo said. “I was lucky enough to visit Cuba a few years back with my friends Calle 13, and during my four days there, my mind was blown by the people, depth of culture and their way of life. Going back to perform in 2016 and to be a part of the culture once again is a huge blessing, and I couldn’t be more honored to bring the Major Lazer project there.”
The festival, simply called Musicabana, is scheduled May 5-8 at Havana’s Plaza San Francisco de Asis, Salon Rosado of la Tropical, and La Piragua. The multi-genre bill, which will feature more than 25 artists and DJs, is topped by Jamaican rapper Sean Paul and Brazilian musician Carlinhos Brown.
An announcement boasts that the festival has put together “the largest gathering of Cuban artists in a generation,” including Pablo Milanés, Carlos Varela, Los Van Van, Orquesta Aragón, Habana d’Primera, Pedrito Martinez, Yoruba Andabo, Juana Bacallao & Tiembla Tierra, Interactivo, Kelvis Ochoa, and Adonis & Osain del Mont.
Both Major Lazer’s show and Musicabana will be free to the Cuban public. What about amigos in the U.S.? The festival’s website says, “All American citizens will be able to legally attend Musicabana events and concerts by purchasing customized travel packages that are fully compliant with applicable U.S. rules and regulations.”
CNN reports that while general tourist travel to Cuba is still illegal for U.S. citizens and permanent residents, you can visit if the purpose of your trip qualifies for one of 12 travel categories. CNN points out, “Fortunately, it seems that with the right spin, almost anything can.”
Travel packages go on sale Jan. 15 at 12 p.m. EST. VisitMusicabana.com for more information.