Iconic "downtown" guitar master Marc Ribot is celebrating his 55th Birthday this week by reuniting the many talented players from a bunch of his past musical adventures. Most exciting‚ in my eyes‚ is the return of Marc Ribot y Los Prostizos Cubanos (The Prosthetic Cubans). After releasing two albums in the late '90s (the self-titled was amazing; Muy Divertido was just "aight")‚ the band played only a handful of shows over the last decade‚ which is a shame because they may be the most accessible -- in a good way -- and fun group Ribot has ever led.
On Sunday May 10th Ribot and the Prostizos wedged their gear into the tiny backroom of Rose Live Music in Williamsburg‚ Brooklyn‚ for an afternoon matinee show. Before the main act‚ La Cumbiamba eNeYe started the day off with their Columbian percussion onslaught. Marc joined the fun playing a beat-up child's size electric guitar and adding his distinct lines to the mix. He made that junky guitar sing. This was only the beginning‚ and the room was already packed with overheated bodies‚ which probably helped the bar move a lot of mojitos.
After a short break in the action‚ Cotito‚ a Peruvian acoustic trio that featured a cajón player/singer‚ played a beautiful set. The cajón is basically a percussion box that you sit on while you play -- and this guy was getting a really impressive range of sounds out of the thing. Again‚ Ribot came on towards the end to join in the fun with his little guitar‚ and again‚ he fit in quite nicely.
After another mojito break‚ it was time for the main event. The Prostizos crowded into the corner and started off their set‚ which was basically a rundown of their first album. Anthony Coleman traded solos with Ribot on an upright miniature organ‚ which was pretty interesting‚ but drums and percussion really drive this group. Everyone on stage played their part perfectly. For a band who hasn't played much in the last decade‚ they really sounded on point.
Enough cannot be said about Ribot's guitar playing. He has an immediately identifiable tone that is driven by pure emotion. His sound is kind of like that ratty junk guitar he was playing -- it's battered and imperfect yet somehow refined and moving. He has completely mastered his instrument yet he is tasteful enough to know that sometimes simpler is better.
The Prostizos know how to move a party‚ and despite this show's early start time and the fact that it was Mother's Day‚ that is exactly what it was -- a party.
They do it again this Friday‚ May 15th at Le Poisson Rouge in Manhattan‚ and Ribot's party continues for another week at various venues throughout the city with a huge crew of musicians. More info marcribot.com.