Puentes readies for Red Wing (Minnesota) debut

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Award-winning singer-songwriter Adonis Puentes and his all-acoustic orchestra will bring the joy and passion of Cuban music to the Sheldon Theatre at 7 p.m. Feb. 12, Ruth Nerhaugen reports for The Republican Eagle.

According to Sheldon officials, his original songs are “surrounded by syncopated Cuban rhythms, deep bass lines, jazzy horn arrangements and melodic piano and guitar.”

Red Wing will be a new experience for Puentes, but he is accustomed to performing for what he called “a mixed crowd, mainly Anglos.” The Cuban native is currently living in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, and has appeared widely in that country.

He expects to play three or four “oldies” that people may find familiar, he said, then move into his original work. Songs will be interspersed with information about the music and where it comes from.

Cuban music, Puentes explained, is a fusion created from the music of Moor-influenced Spaniards and the African slaves who lived there. He calls it an “Afro-Cuban” sound to which he has added a modern twist.

His world music was nominated for Juno and Grammy awards that described the sound as “richly saturated with tradition, international flavor and sharp lyrics.” Others have called it “a mix of soulful balladry and dance-friendly Cuban vibes.”

Although the lyrics — he chooses the words in addition to composing the music, leading the band and singing the songs — are in Spanish, Puentes pointed out that music is a language by itself.

“Music is a gift from God. Music is love. We need more love on this planet,” and he has taken on the role of “musical missionary” spreading it across the world.

He’s not shy about the impact that music has on his audiences. “At the end,” he said, “people can’t resist to dance.”

Puentes has been making music since he was a child. His musician father, Valentin Puentes, had Adonis and his twin brother Alexis performing in a children’s guitar ensemble at age 6. By 14, Adonis Puentes was singing and writing original songs.

The three traveled to Canada to perform in the 1990s, and the brothers ended up emigrating there. “You get to a certain point,” he explained, “and you are seeking opportunities” that were not available in Cuba.

“This country welcomed us with open arms,” Puentes said. The brothers’ first album, “Morumba Cubana,” was a success. However, Alexis had his own vision of performing pop music; he now goes by Alex Cuba.

Puentes recorded his first solo album, “Vida,” in 2005, and with it earned Artist of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year honors at the Island Music Awards.

He spent a few years performing with some Latin all-stars in Los Angeles until “I felt ready to do my dream — to record my own music.” The result, “Sabor a Café,” also has been well received.

According to one reviewer, “It’s a sensuous, profound recording with dramatic arrangements and a crystal clear studio sound. Puentes is a great singer and an elegant composer and lyricist grounded and nourished by his Cuban roots and worldly experience.”

It was nominated for World Music Album of the year at the 2014 Canadian Juno Awards. Puentes also has a Grammy Award nomination for his lead vocalist work with Mongorama.

“I have traveled the world singing,” he said. “My mission in life is to share my music, giving people joy.”

He is working on a new album and plans to spend more time touring in the United States this year. Last summer was spent touring Canada, plus he also travels frequently to Cuba.

“I feel very, very blessed,” Puentes said. “I am very happy with the opportunities.”

Tickets to the concert are $30 to $19 in advance, or $3 more the day of the event. For more information or reservations, call 651-388-8700 or go online to http://www.sheldontheatre.org.

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