The Felix Cabrera Band reunited with guitarist Jimmy Vivino last weekend for a concert in Port Washington, NY. The set included a few well-known covers bolstered by their blues and Latin originals. The dance floor was full the entire night as people only stopped dancing to chuckle at the witty onstage banter.
Felix Cabrera was born in Havana, Cuba. Though he moved to Miami, FL at a young age, his Latin heritage has stayed strong, both in his life and in his music. Cabrera, a musical child, fell in love when he heard Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” on the radio, and bought his first harmonica the very next day. He played along with recordings of artists, such as BB King and Muddy Waters.
Cabrera bounced around from genre to genre, finally forming his own band “Felix and the Havanas” in 1984. Blending Rock n’ Roll with Latin beats, “the Havanas” had a unique sound, which gained notoriety when they opened for James Brown. In the 1990’s Cabrera joined Jimmy Vivino for the first time in “The Black Italians.” Their music careers have since intertwined on numerous occasions.
You might know Jimmy Vivino from his day job as Conan O’Brein’s bandleader on TBS. Before he became a late night bandleader, Vivino held a number of gigs. He was born into a musical family in Paterson, NJ in 1955. Learning trumpet, guitar and keyboard, Vivino soon found himself in demand as a studio musician.
After moving to New York City, Vivino became a Broadway musical director at the young age of 30. Though his show closed after only a few months, Vivino kept his feet under him. He began working with Al Kooper (Blood, Sweat & Tears) and John Sebastian (The Lovin’ Spoonful), even working as a musical director on movies, such as Sister Act and The First Wives Club.
Today, when not working on Conan, Vivino moonlights with his old friends. He and The Felix Cabrera Band have put on a number of shows in the Greater New York area over the past few years. Between the screaming harmonicas and vibrating guitar licks, the show is really something that must be seen. Both Cabrera and Vivino have a great time on stage and it shows, both in the music and in their interactions with each other and the audience.