The Harrison Festival Society is proud to present Joaquin Diaz and his band on Saturday, February 12 at 8pm in the Harrison Memorial Hall. Diaz is one of the best of a new breed of traditional merengue artist.
Joaquin Diaz is originally from the Dominican Republic and is now based in Canada. His repertoire is a mixture of traditional and original tunes that is characterized by its exhilarating syncopated rhythms, the diatonic accordion and his infectious vocals. Forced to earn a living at the age of nine, he became a musician playing on the streets in Santo Domingo. Still in his teens he performed at the PanAmerican Games in Puerto Rico that led him to play at the presidential home for the then President Joaquin Balaguer.
Merengue is synonymous with the Dominican Republic; you can hear it from every apartment, car and boom box and from the backwoods bars to the trendiest urban dance clubs. Dominicans ea,t breath and sleep this music and dance. Merengue, like all Afro-Caribbean forms, is identified by the beat pattern. Unlike syncopated rhythms like Salsa or Calypso, Merengue hits the 1 and 3 beat. Traditionally, the instrumentation is acoustic, led by accordion with bass and a two-headed drum called a tambora. Recently, these instruments have been combined with modern electric instruments and Salsa-influenced horn sections. The dance is a 2-step beat, with knees slightly bent then moving left – right. This causes the hips of the leader and follower to move in the same direction, slightly left-right. It is a close dance for couples that can be performed on a crowded dance floor.
In 1990 Diaz brought Dominican magic and his accordion wizardry with him in Canada. Now residing in Montreal, he has matured into a consummate artist delighting audiences wherever he goes. Diaz and his band have become involved in a pretty impressive trajectory. Their participation at various venues and festivals allowed them to share their tropical energy touring Canada, United States and Europe. A grant was awarded to Diaz by the Canada Council for the Arts to study conjunto music in the city of San Antonio Texas, crossroad of the accordion.
Diaz and his band have played major music festivals around the world, and have garnered praise where ever they play. The World Music Festival in Chicago has said “in Diaz’s hands merengue is hard-core stuff, an exhilarating polyrhythmic ride on a runaway train”. The International Accordion Festival in San Antonio Texas said “Joaquin Diaz is a dynamic performer who not only moves your body and feet, but your heart and soul as well”. The Toronto Star has said “Diaz puts on a smart show with those reckless rhythms from the Caribbean island”.
Tickets for this high energy show are $22 and are available by phone at 604-796-3664, online at www.harrisonfestival.com or in person at Agassiz Shoppers Drug Mart.