Las Rubias del Norte
started out four years ago when Emily Hurst and Allyssa Lamb - who had been singing together in a large choir - decided to sing Mexican songs. Along with Olivier Conan, who by then had joined them on the Cuatro, they decided to put together a repertoire of vintage Latin American music. The band has since been re-interpreting songs from all across the Americas - drawing from sources both classic and obscure. While indebted to the various genres it draws from, Las Rubias' sound is a re-invention, a nostalgic throwback to a time and place mostly imagined.

Some of the band's early inspiration can be found in the songs of Tejana singer Lydia Mendoza, in the recordings of Colombian bandleader Lucho Bemudez, in the singing of Simon Diaz and in the arrangements of Cuban band The Lecuona Cuban Boys.

Las Rubias - whose first album, Rumba Internationale, was named after one of the Lecuona Cuban Boys's songs - could actually be said to emulate the legendary Cuban big band. The Lecuona Cuban Boys were founded by Ernesto Lecuona, although he hardly ever appeared with them; they spent most of their artistic life in Europe and then South America, preaching the new Cuban music gospel; they were fronted by an Italian singer who had first gained attention in Hollywood as a Valentino impersonator. The seminal Cuban band is probably responsible for the very first International Cuban craze although they invented their own kind of authenticity: mixing light operatic singing with theatrical production, Afro-Cuban drumming and collaborations with such idiosyncratic performers as American-born French sensation Josephine Baker.

Las Rubias del Norte also like to mix it all up, spreading their own kind of musical gospel. Taking their cues from the rich trans-national trove, that makes up Latin American culture, they cover Latin gems such as Despedida, Amorosa Guajira and Soledad along with The Sons of the Pioneers, the Confutatis from Mozart's Requiem, a Francoise Hardy tune and a Peruvian girl group hit. They also do a version of Quizas, Quizas, Quizas which manages to quote Abba's Fernando (which presents odd similarities with Quizas.....) and do their own take on Que Nadie Sepa mi Sufrir, a classic Peruvian waltz , written by an Argentinean duo, and known to French audiences as La Foule - one of Edith Piaf's signature songs.

 

The RUBIAS DEL NORTE are:
  

 

Emily Hurst (Vocals, Glockenspiel) is an alumna of the New York Choral Society where she sang alto. She picked up the Glockenspiel somewhere along the way on which she plays Marimba patterns which owe much to the classic Mexican marimba orchestras.


 

Allyssa Lamb (Vocals, Melodica, Piano) also an alumna of the NY Choral Society, studied piano and vocals. Her eclectic talent has led her to perform with Bébé Eiffel, Dan Zanes and the Oscar Noriega trio. She also played the part of the Odalisque for the production of "L' Amerique c'est Fantastique!" at the prestigious Avignon Festival.


  

 

 

 

Taylor Bergren-Chrisman (Double Bass) plays bass for Golem, Rare Bird Rumba Ranch and Los Abajos . He has also performed with many notable musicians including Raphé Malik and Sabir Mateen.


 


Olivier Conan (Cuatro, Vocals) although a native of France, plays mostly Venezuelan cuatro, which he uses in traditional Latin music as well as in non-traditional settings such as the band Bebe Eiffel which plays mostly original compositions sung in French, and Chicha Libre, a group dedicated to Peruvian Chicha.


  

 

 


Timothy Quigley
(Percussion) plays drums of many sizes with people of many shapes. He has studied tablas with Zakir Hussein, has specialized in Klezmer (Andy Statman) and Balkan music (the Zagnut Cirkus Orkestar) and tours with Persian sensation Noorsaz.


  

 

 


Greg Stare
(percussion) is the leader of the Avant-Merengue band Rare Bird Rumba Ranch. He is a dedicated student of Dominican and Cuban music but also works with a variety of Jazz and Rock performers.



  

Giancarlo Vulcano (Guitar) , a Colombian-American guitarist and composer, has worked with Lenny Pickett, Janie Geiser and Howard Shore. His music is played in festivals and universities around the country. He has studied composition with Thea Musgrave, George Tsontakis, and Daron Hagen.


  


Greg Burrows (Percussion) plays on both our CD's, but doesn't play live quite that much any more. He is still a frequent guest. Greg plays and teaches a wide array of percussion instruments including bones, frame drums, congas, bongos, bird whistles, gongs, etc. He has played with Alessandra Belloni, Medeski Martin & Wood and Bebe Eiffel and is a Taketina instructor -- an innovative method which promotes well-being through polyrhythms.


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