By Richard McGuire
Special to the Chronicle
A new concert series at Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre makes its debut on Friday, June 1 with the sizzling Cuban sounds of Adonis Puentes and the Voice of Cuba Orchestra.
The event is the first in what is expected to be four concerts over the summer.
Barbara Sabyan, event coordinator at Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre, said Osoyoos Indian Band Chief Clarence Louie intends to be at the opening night to launch the series.
Alan Bleiken, a local volunteer music promoter, said he has been arranging the bands in partnership with Nk’Mip’s Sabyan, Manager Charlotte Stringam, and Chris Bower of the OIB Development Corporation.
“It’s a new venue,” said Bleiken. “I’m not saying they’ve never had music in there, but never in the capacity we’re trying to create right now.”
The initial concert will be held in the indoor theatre at the cultural centre, though future concerts may be held in the outdoor amphitheatre.
Bleiken said 100 tickets are being sold for the Adonis Puentes concert and the show is expected to sell out. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased at Nk’Mip and at Jojo’s Café.
Bleiken, who also books concerts for Jojo’s, is excited about the new venue at Nk’Mip.
“It’s allowing me to bring in bands that are too big for Jojo’s,” he said. “We’re trying to add another dimension to the music in town.”
It would not be possible to bring a higher-priced band like Adonis Puentes to Jojo’s without selling tickets for much higher, he said, which would defeat the goal of keeping ticket prices at the café affordable.
“In order to bring in these bands that are the next tier up, we need a higher ticket price,” he said. “This gives people the opportunity instead of running up to the Dream Café (in Penticton) they can see the same band here.”
Bleiken said he doesn’t see the Nk’Mip concerts as competing with Jojo’s, which is a smaller venue, or with other series such as the Osoyoos Concert Series (OCS), which runs from fall to spring.
The second concert, planned for Saturday, June 23, features Tiller’s Folly, the Celtic rock group that opened OCS in 2015.
Details of the third concert aren’t yet firm, but Bleiken is arranging to bring back the popular Detroit blues band The Good, the Bad and the Blues in early August.
He’s particularly excited about Adonis Puentes.
“I love Latin music,” said Bleiken, adding that Cuban music with a blend of African, European and Indigenous traditions is especially rich. “I think this is a beautiful kickoff. It’s cultural centre, so we’re introducing an entirely new cultural up there.”
Adonis Puentes, born in Cuba, has lived in Victoria, B.C. for the past 20 years. The Juno-nominated musician is a songwriter who sings and plays guitar.
Earlier this year he released a new CD, Dicen (the talk or they say).
Bleiken said when he was still making initial plans with Nk’Mip for the first concert, he was sent a link to the video of Dicen.
“I almost didn’t want to click on the link, because I knew as soon as I did, I would be sold,” he said. “As soon as I heard it, I knew I had to get it going.”
Concert details: Adonis Puentes, Friday, June 1 at Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre. Doors at 6:30 p.m., music at 7 p.m. Tickets $30 in advance from Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre and Jojo’s Café.