Local band Cantamos opens Winter Concert Season in Angels Camp
Sunday, January 12 2020
3 p.m. - 5 p.m.
The first concert of the Ovations winter concert season at the Bret Hart Performing Arts Center will be the band Cantamos, a popular local band that refuses to be put in a genre box with their mix of big band, rock, rhythm and blues, folk, pop, and even classical music.
“We’re so hard to describe,” said Macfarlane. “We have an eclectic mix of our favorite songs. In the past we’ve moved from arias to Latin favorites, to contemporary pop songs.” Indeed, Michela leads the band seamlessly across the world music landscape with a cheerful whirlwind of songs like the Brazilian bosso nova hit “Corcovado” and the German/Yiddish big band romp “Bei Mire Bist Du Shön,” as well as rollicking Aretha Franklin covers and the novelty song “Mambo Italiano.”
Cantamos isn’t restricted to English. Macfarlane is a musical polyglot; their concerts can feel like a world tour. “My favorite thing is to sing in a bunch of different languages. Italian, French Spanish, Portuguese,” she said. Chestnut kitschy pop songs like “These Boots are Made for Walking” shine when Macfarlane sings them in French. And Cantamos covers a variety of unusual material, like their rendition of Pink Martini’s “Je ne Veux Pas Travailler (Sympatique).”
The eight piece group is blessed with a line up of talent to back Macfarlane: Fred Treece on guitars and vocals, Tonja Peterson on vocals and percussion, Ray Price on drums and percussion, and Ron Schaner on bass and vocals mix it up with the horn section—Ras Beeken Dan on sax, flute, and clarinet, Gunther Hsue on trumpet (he also plays keyboard), and Matt Albright on Trombone.
“It can be tricky to play with a horn section,” Macfarlane admitted. “Especially with my vocal range, which is pretty high. A lot of times the vocals can get lost. That’s been one of the challenges.” But she said that the horns, led by Beeken, make it work. “It’s so awesome to have that full section that a horn section brings. There are so many possibilities.”
Macfarlane said that each musician contributes to the band’s material by bringing in their favorite pieces. “Each of our songs has a special meaning to at least someone in our group, for example Ray brought in Corcovado, Ron brought in Sara Bareilles’ “Love Song” and Gunther brought in Sting’s “La Belle Dame Sans Regrets.” Whatever memory or desire they have connected to it we then make it our own collective effort and polish it into a rendition that speaks to all of us.”
“We are presenting our usual eclectic repertoire mix,” Macfarlane said, “but we’re breathing new life into it. Gunther Hsue and I will do a Mozart aria from Le Nozze di Figaro, new to our show. Tonja, Fred, and I will also be doing a couple new songs with gorgeous harmonies, pieces that you just don’t hear every day.”
“I think one of the most important things we are doing for this show is coming up with fresh arrangements for our songs that harness the talent of all of us on stage in such a way that features as many moments of brilliance as possible.”
Cantamos music video from James Freeman on Vimeo.
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