Best Latin Band Miami 2014 – Palo
The infectious sound of los timbales and bongos fuse with the keyboard as the sax and vocals crescendo. In a matter of seconds, a seductive melody reverberates throughout the room, prompting the party people to involuntarily and uncontrollably shake their asses. They have caught Palo! fever. For more than a decade, the Afro-Cuban funk band has been bringingel sonido caliente to the Magic City. Steve Roitstein, who also teaches at Miami Dade College, is the Palo! mastermind. Prior to becoming the leader of the band, el músico worked with Willy Chirino, Julio Iglesias, and other Latin music legends. He even snagged a Latin Grammy in 2001 for a song he produced for Celia Cruz. Success was definitely on his side, but Roitstein wanted to create something he could call his own. So Palo! was born. The descarga masters may share the same name as the Afro-Cuban religion, but the story behind their moniker comes from a Cuban man who couldn’t pronounce Roitstein’s first name. To help him out, Roitstein explained it was like “Esteban” but in English. That’s when el cubanocorrected him by saying, “Ah, Estick!” Because the word palo is Spanish for “stick,” the band name was born. More than a decade later, the group continues to spread its rumba across the 305. Just last year, the bandmates released their second album, Palo! Live, which was recorded during their tenth-anniversary bash at the now-defunct PAX. The band was also featured in Miami Boheme, a documentary on PBS showcasing Miami’s Latin fusion bands, and their music recently aired on public radio. Roitstein and his crew are now working on a third album set to be released this fall. But you won’t have to wait till then to hear them cantar la salsa — chances are you’ll catch ’em throwing it down on any given weekend.
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