Caramelo performs at New York's Le Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleeker Street, tonight, July 10. Tickets are $10 adv./$15 door, Doors Open: 6:30 pm, Show: 7:30 pm. For further information please call: 212.505.FISH
Led by singer/dancer/NYC resident Sara Erde, Caramelo performs a funky blend of Flamenco and r&b music. Sara is an opera choreographer at the Met and has spent over 6 years studying Flamenco in Spain, so you can expect some great dancing in addition to awesome music.
Flamenco Flygirls and Funky Duende:
NYC’s Caramelo Finds the Flamenco Soul of the City on Debut Album, Ride
Flamenco. It’s not about performing; it’s about distilling life’s passion, pain, and love into a single ornament, into one potent gesture. From kitchens to street corners, it’s at its most powerful when it entwines with life in cities like Sevilla, Spain.
And cities like New York, home of Caramelo, a crew of top musicians and flamenco dancers with a shared love of soulful R&B, alt rock, and hot Latin grooves. On their debut Ride (release: May 29, 2012), Sara Erde’s sensuous bilingual purr and the gorgeous, gritty voice of flamenco singer Alfonso Cid (“La Luna”) grace the band’s urbane hooks, unexpected instruments, and ear-candy songwriting.
Caramelo revels in a New-World sound and vision for old-school duende, the spirit of expression and energy that drives flamenco at its best. This streets-meets-Sevilla soul will fill Drom on June 2, 2012, as the band celebrates Ride, thanks to special guests from Antibalas, Chicha Libre, and Gregorio Uribe Big Band —and to the band’s funky corps of lithe, vibrant dancers.
Erde was raised in Brooklyn, in a Jewish folk music-loving family surrounded by Spanish-speaking friends, neighbor kids who convinced her to start dancing flamenco early on. She also grew up hanging out with the Cherry family (she rapped in Spanish on Neneh’s Raw Like Sushi) and chilling at reggae clubs. An actress as well as a musician and dancer, Erde often played in off-Broadway shows late into the night, only to show up at high school the next day in pajamas. Her interests eventually converged as Erde began choreographing operas for major companies, including the Met.
Despite years of intensive training and professional performance in flamenco, Erde still felt she had much to learn. So she headed to Sevilla, the heartland of flamenco, and spent six years there, learning how the art form is inseparable from everyday life. Yet Erde never quite felt in her element: “When I put on a flamenco dress, I felt like I was in drag,” Erde laughs. “I had to find a way that felt organic and reconciled all my different artistic loves. I kept wondering how I could make it mine, so I didn’t feel I was playing a role.”
Meanwhile, guitarist Jed Miley was living a parallel life. After the accidental purchase of a flamenco guitar, Miley simultaneously pursued his obsessions with flamenco and with his home town of Seattle’s alt-rock scene. “It grows as an obsession with you. Flamenco is so deep and complicated that you can keep finding new layers,” Miley reflects. “I was drawn to guitar music, then you discover the dancing and singing.” His obsession gained him spots with Seattle-based flamenco companies and soon took him to Sevilla, where he studied guitar with some of the city’s most revered teachers, experience that made Miley an in-demand music director and guitarist in American flamenco circles.
When Erde and Miley met in New York, they found they shared a sense of place, a feel for the crossover between flamenco and the city streets, between traditional palos and Spanish dance forms, and NYC club beats and moves. And Brooklyn yielded an embarrassment of potential riches: accordion licks from Eastern Europe and South America (the tangoing “Peligroso”), salsa percussion and horns, Caribbean and vintage funk vibes (“Brooklyn”), and fly-girl moves (“The Girl is Gone”).
Erde and Miley began meeting up, playing around with tracks and lyrics, which came to Erde sometimes in English, sometimes in Spanish. Their collaboration morphed quickly from flamenco-based studio project to something new all together: a pop-friendly yet tradition-inflected live funk band. But with genre-crashing twists: a violinist/female mariachi, a conservatory-trained accordion whiz from Ukraine, a cajón-wielding jazz bassist.
“We have a great rapport on stage, because we’ve been playing flamenco together for so long. There’s a thing about playing this kind of music together: you can anticipate what someone is thinking,” Erde recounts. “And as a choreographer, I felt we could adapt the flamenco model and have dance be an integral part of Caramelo. Flamenco dance is embodiment of the music. We incorporate dance with our music in a similar way.”