havana to new orleans again

5 Dec

Cuba lifted decades-old travel restrictions this October, allowing direct flights from New Orleans for the first time in fifty years and opening an historic music connection

Joey Burns, of the 15-year-old “desert noir” band Calexico, mentioned in his response to a recent question “the New Orleans-Havana connection.” “There was once a strong musical bridge between these two cities,” he said. “But there’s been a Berlin-type wall separating the cultures ever since 1959. I would love to see/hear that musical exchange given new life.”

Turns out it just might be. This October—and this may be why it was on Burns’s mind—Cuba gave the green light to direct flights from New Olreans for the first time in fifty years. “A potentially vibrant new economic opportunity for New Orleans and the U.S. surfaced today,” wrote one music blogger on the day the news was announced. “New Orleans and Havana have a long tradition of interaction that has had a profound impact on American culture. Reviving that link could be the beginning of a new era for the Gulf-Caribbean connection.”

I haven’t been to either city, but the music of New Orleans has long been a keen fascination, which means so has the music of Havana. It should be interesting to see what the next fifty years brings in terms of musical exchange if travel restrictions remain relaxed.

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