Carlos Verela receives an all-star welcome to New York…
The 52-year-old Cuban singer-songwriter of nueva trova was honored at the opening of this year’s Woodstock Film Festival.
The “fiercely independent” festival, featuring a challenging collection of screenings, panels, special events and parties in the New York towns of Woodstock, Rhinebeck, Saugerties, Rosendale and Kingston kicked off this week with the documentary Poet Of Havana held at the Ulster Performing Arts Center in Kingston.
There, following a Q&A with director Ron Chapman and his subject, Verela, special guest Jackson Browne performed a tribute to a heroic artist who speaks for a generation of Cubans, including those affected by the longstanding U.S. embargo that has only recently begun to soften.
To wit: Valero and his band only learned the day before the screening that they would actually be allowed to leave Cuba for the event.
Unknown in America and fighting decades of censorship in Cuba, Verela is greatly admired by the likes of Browne, actor Benicio Del Toro and many international musicians.
Speaking at the Q&A, Browne said, “To see Carlos in Cuba playing for Cubans was a very emotional thing, and to see him play in the United States for Cubans is also very emotional. He expresses something about their common story that is not presented anywhere else.”
Browne accompanied his comrade on Verela’s song “Walls and Doors,” which Browne also released on his 2014 album, Standing In The Breach.