Truman State University’s Kohlenberg Lyceum season for the year will finish out with an international flavor: the Havana All-Stars “Asere” tour, a group of musicians and dancers showcasing Cuba’s musical traditions. 

The tour features Cuban musicians with a variety of styles, as well as three dancing couples. The group is dedicated to showcasing the variety of Cuban music through a contemporary lens. 

The group’s founder and band leader, Michel Padrón, said the tour features artists from a spectrum of social backgrounds and with different styles rooted in Afro-Cuban traditions. These include the genres of són, cha cha cha, rhumba, changui, and pilón. 

“The core band, named Asere, was composed of seven friends who grew up together in Cuba and wanted to play music,” Padrón said. “It started finding rhythm instruments in the streets. For instance, one of the instruments was a discarded brake drum from a car. They would use a wrench or some other piece of metal to hit the brake drum rhythmically.” 

Padrón said American audiences have been very receptive to Cuban music and that the performers love it when their audiences join in by dancing. 

“All Cuban music is for dancing. Fast or slow. All for dancing,” Padrón said. “We have seen the audiences dance no matter the age.” 

Padrón said Afro-Cuban music is influenced by the country’s experiences with slavery when it was a Spanish colony. Slavery was common on the island’s sugar cane plantations until it was abolished in 1886.

“The music was a way to communicate with each other about dreams and wishes or whatever was on their minds. This has continued in these modern times put to the different rhythms that make you want to dance. I think you will find it very difficult not to dance when you come to our performance,” Padrón said. 

Tickets for Havana All-Stars’ performance at Truman are on sale now at the Truman cashier window in McClain Hall, at Edna Campells in downtown Kirksville or online at lyceum.truman.edu.
The show will take place at 7:30 p.m. March 21 at Baldwin Auditorium.

Correction: A previous version of this story should have stated that the show will take place March 21.