International artists have always played a colorful role in the sights and sounds of the CMA Music Festival, but this year, for the first time ever, the lineup included an internationally acclaimed Tres guitar virtuoso, Pancho Amat.
“Music is a universal language that has the ability to bridge cultural divides and connect people through sound to their shared roots and experiences,” said Steve Moore, CMA Chief Executive Officer. “Our fans appreciate music and performers that are authentic and I believe our audiences will appreciate Pancho’s style of Cuban ‘Country’ music.”
Pancho Amat and El Cabildo del Son performed on the Bridgestone stage June 9. Brilliantly led by Amat’s tres, a guitar-like instrument strung with three pairs of two strings, his six piece band blended the Cuban African/jazz rhythms that have drawn worldwide critical raves.
According to Wikipedia, “…the Son cubano is a style of music that originated in Cuba and gained worldwide popularity in the ‘30s. It combines the structure and elements of Spanish cancion and Spanish guitar with African rhythms and percussion instruments; its derivatives and fusions, especially salsa have spread across the world.”
Amat has recorded over 10 albums and collaborated with leading musicians on five continents. When a young man he graduated as a classic guitarist from Ignacio Cervantes Conservatory at Havana and then went on to study Harmony, Counterpoint, Orchestration and more. He was honored to receive Cuba’s National Music Award in 2010.
I heard Amat and group perform at an intimate Havana gathering several months ago and was completely spellbound by his intricate and articulate solos which effortlessly mixed dexterity with chunky rhythmic elements. Still I couldn’t help but wonder how his organic music might translate for a Nashville Musicfest audience. As the embedded video clip shows, it was well received.
Backstage, Amat and group were relaxed, enjoying their first Nashville visit. With Amat’s brief English and my sparse Spanish our conversation was a bit clumsy, but his feeling can be expressed best from his remarks from the stage when he said, “When we return home, we’ll take Nashville with us in our hearts.”