Orquesta Caribe, Island Park, Elkhart IN. 7-11-08


              Orquesta Caribe brought its fiery non-stop Latin dance party sounds to Island Park on July 11th. Their music was the perfect soundtrack to a fun, festive and sultry summer night in the beautiful downtown park. The annual event put on by WVPE was well attended by a large and diverse mix of listeners and dancers, old fans and curious newcomers alike. Spirited music as large as life itself filled the air as the band delivered an impressive and varied set of Latin grooves. Those in attendance seemed to enjoy the passionate and remarkably tight musicianship of this ensemble.

            The event also included fun and engaging dance lessons for those new to the rich and varied traditions of Latin dance. The unusual above the band dance floor was filled with throngs of enthusiastic dancers learning to bust a variety of new moves. There was also an impressive dance contest with some remarkably seasoned salsa aficionados putting on an incredible display of dance artistry. It was the perfect compliment to a wonderful performance from one of Michiana’s best bands.

             Orquesta Caribe is a 12 piece pan-Latin ensemble that breaks the mold of traditional Latin bands by playing a variety of different regional styles in their performances. Authentically executed musical forms such as Salsa, Merengue, and Cumbia representing the sounds of Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic, can all be heard in a single set from the band. Orquesta Caribe consists of a dynamic mix of musicians with varied backgrounds who have all brought their own flavor into the project. James Riley, the bands Timbalero(timbale player) cites Tito Puente, Poncho Sanchez, Ray Barretto, Eddie Palmieri, and Joe Arroyo as musical inspirations for the band.

            Orquesta Caribe has been around in various forms under different names for several years. The present and most solid line up has been together since 2005. The current stability has helped build a passionate following that is as much a part of the fun as the band is. An enthusiastic crowd of skilled dancers has shown up to heat up the dance floor at each Orquesta Caribe performance I have seen. The event in Island Park was no different. This is a band that truly gets the audience involved in the music. If you like to dance and enjoy authentic Latin music you owe it to yourself to seek out the backyard musical treasure that is Orquesta Caribe. 



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