Who is carlos Rodríguez?
We have been fortunate to talk with founder and bongo player of the Son Latino de Orlando Orchestra, Carlos Rodríguez, who started out with him thanking us for the opportunity to talk a little about the group he leads and how has the process of reaching more and more audiences been.
Rodriguez started in the world of music in the 70’s in his native Puerto Rico, where he was part of a few orchestras. His first group was Imperial Orchestra and later he played percussion with Conjunto Secas in the town of Sábana Seca, but it was not long before he created the Sabrosona Orchestra. He started making vocals with Tony Vega and very small performances until he decided to retire for a while and go to Florida.
While in the United States, he realized that his love for music was still intact and decided to form another orchestra in the city of Orlando about eight years ago, which he decided to name ”Son Latino de Orlando ”. It was Carlos himself who decided to name his group that way while he was at home one day, which was when he thought of ”Son Latino” and decided to add ”de Orlando” in honor of the place where they are living and working.
In addition to being the owner and founder, he also plays the bongo, does vocals and plays minor percussion. Another role he plays in the orchestra is to carefully select the members who will become part of his orchestra, but he confesses that he has been lucky enough to have several of the same collaborators for many years, such as Davin Rojas, Rafael Rico, Luis Soriano, Danny Rojas, Chris Torres and Kevin Figueroa (music director of the orchestra and pianist). All of them have been very important in the group’s growth in recent years from their very specific roles. If there are any changes, they are made known to the fans so that they keep it in mind.
Carlos tells us that one of the biggest challenges faced by he and his guys is that those who usually hire their services do not pay what is fair for their work. Club owners are not really interested in paying for a good orchestra that offers a quality show, so they just choose the cheapest.
One of the biggest problems they have had to face is that if contractors consider that those in charge of the orchestra are asking for a very high payment, they will always choose the group that less money demands, no matter its quality is not the best.
Rodríguez makes it clear that at no point does he criticize any colleague for this, since all musicians do what is necessary to survive and excel in the industry through the work they do. However, he thinks that club owners and managers should modify the elements relied upon by them to choose their artists, since the bigger loser is always the audience.
How to balance business affairs with the love for art and music (título 3)
”You have musicians behind you and you have to meet with them. To be able to keep your orchestra, you have to go outside to look for your events and guarantee your work” was the first thing the musician said when we asked him how he balances business with the love for music. It is he himself who is in charge of knocking on the doors of the establishments, making his proposals, waiting for calls, indicating prices, signing contracts and arranging dances.
He also stated that it is very important to always lay out the terms of each contract so there are no unpleasant surprises such as last minute cancellations or misunderstandings.
How to balance original music with covers
”We always try to have a balance between romantic salsa, melodic salsa and hard salsa,” says Carlos. The orchestra has three singers who take turns on lead vocals depending on the type of salsa to be played, but there are mamy times when they are all combined in one song and adapt to the rhythms.
In all its performances, the orchestra sings both covers with different arrangements and original numbers. Depending on the place and the type of event, they always try to combine the music and build up a whole repertoire based on that specific audience preferences.
Opinion on new talent
On this topic, Rodriguez said that there are very talented new artists, but they must be allowed to grow and be original. ”Just because you have a middleweight name doesn’t mean you have to be arrogant and put aside humility. You have to be willing to listen and learn from the older guys in the business” said the artist.
For the bongo player, the speed of progress in this career makes many talented kids lose the north and get carried away by arrogance and the desire to know everything. He always tries to give advice to the kids who want to devote themselves to music with whom he has the opportunity to talk so that they can do their best.