Calle Sur is what happens when you combine man and woman, Black and White, urban and rural. Seeing Calle Sur is living proof that the terms "Hispanic" and "Latino" can't be summarized.
Ed East is Panamanian. His upbringing in Panama City meant noise, hustle, bustle, and those chaotic smells
and sights so characteristic of any Third World metropolis. It also meant a fierce need for individuality and lots of musical innovation and creativity, as expressed in the work of his compatriot, Rubén Blades.
Karin Stein, his Colombian partner, brings to the music of Calle Sur the perspective of her rural upbringing.
Very rural, that is. She grew up as a cowgirl on a remote ranch in the eastern Llanos or plains of Colombia.
While he rode buses and watched TV, she rode horses and watched the red ibis stalk across emerald green
rice fields. There was no TV in her neck of the woods. No electricity for that matter. Only a small transistor
radio which sometimes worked, and from which she gleaned tidbits of an outer world. His veins were filled with the fusion of world beats converging in a big city. Her soul harbored haunting cowboy tunes from her
traditional Llanero culture, a fascinating people whose music remains one of Latin America's best kept secrets.
They met in Iowa, of all places, where they each had built a life in a foreign but welcoming land, and where their Latin heritage has blended with their predominantly Anglo-Saxon surroundings. They have been pioneers in a state that has only in the last 15 years seen a significant influx of Latinos. Calle Sur, however, commonly performs outside of Iowa: New York, Colorado, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Romania - wherever their music takes them. They have composed the film score for three documentaries, some of them aired worldwide. Their compositions have also been used in feature-length movies.
This duo has charisma, it has class, and it has talent to boot. One minute, Ed's drumming makes you jump to your feet. The next, you sway to the samba he plays on his guitar. Karin strums a mean 6/8 beat on her Venezuelan cuatro, then effortlessly switches to Bolivian panpipes. Ed's versatile expressions take you from guajira and jazz to bossa nova and salsa tunes. Karin's stirring vocal quality melts your senses with a tender love song, then wraps its power around you in an Afro-Colombian cumbia. And when they sing one of their boleros together, the perfect blend of their harmonies will likely give you goosebumps.
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