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
The RUBIAS DEL NORTE
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.
(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
(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.