By IRINA ECHARRY, photos by CARIDAD
HAVANA TIMES, March 8 -As part of its regular programming, the Jose Marti National Library reserves Fridays for free concerts. At 4:00 p.m. its theater opens its doors to receive a public not only seeking books and information, but also good music.
On Friday Feb. 27 those attending had the pleasure of hearing Pedro Luis Ferrer, a chronicler par excellence of Cuban life, with his fine Creole irony.
The public went to see this folk singer who is shrouded in mystery. “I came to see him because I like him; his songs deal with major issues that can’t be heard anywhere else,” said a young woman who had got in line early.
Confirmed and unconfirmed gossip circulated as people murmured, “He hasn’t performed in public for seven years”… “No, a while back he was at the La Casona de Línea“… “They didn’t announce it on any cultural billboard”… or “You’re crazy, they mentioned it on Canal Havana TV.”
People wonder: Where is he? What’s he doing? What did they do to him?
Ferrer limits himself to singing and reciting his unbiased lyrics, reflecting the rhythms of guaracha, tonada, changüí and changuisa styles that touch on social and cultural themes that affect people in one way or another.
Using double meanings and picaresque -sometimes as a shield, others times like a spear- Pedro Luis Ferrer has been a bit removed from the media, yet people still know his tunes.
Issues like material shortages, double standards, generational conflict, Cuba’s dual currency, and racial prejudice, have obsessed the poet for many years, even before writing: “Now that they allow criticism…/ now that everybody wants to talk / screaming and arguing are in style…”
The singer-songwriter recognized that the encounter was opportune for commenting on his “musical journeys,” and he talked about the national tour, which he interrupted to fulfill commitments in Europe but will continue in June.
Songs like Son de la canela, Pelito de mi bigote, La bellísima and Si no fuera por ti were heard, along with sincere verses questioning his own ideology, the value of work, and tunes about life in general. There were themes with lyrics like: “My father was a communist / I’m not as much as him / but whoever touches my father / has to deal with me too.”
Friday, February 27, was a special afternoon with this racy, reveling and incisive man accompanied by his daughter Lena and his brother Raul. They sang, “I don’t want anything that I lost / because what I still have makes me happy.”
To confirm the Friday concerts at the National Library -located near the intersection of Independence and May 20th Ave. near the Plaza of the Revolution- call: 855-5442 or 881-5013.