Entering Joe’s Pub last night I had no preparation for the emotional hour I was about to embark on. Have you ever been to that space? The clash of the modern crowd with the old school vibe of a hotel lounge from the 1950s creates a space where you feel both cool and classy. Their drink selection was diverse, their food menu adequate — I had an Old Fashioned, which gets a thumbs up. So I was there, with my Old Fashioned in hand, waiting for Migguel Anggelo and The Immigrants to take the stage. Then boom. The culture, the music, the world; Latin America had just been brought by the man holding the microphone. Latin America, the most beautiful, yet misunderstood place. Its violence and corruption hiding the magic within its jungles. This is where people like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Pablo Neruda, and Paolo Coelho wrote those books people brag about reading. The ones that embrace the magic that resides between the lines of dictators and guerrillas, of happiness and malcontent. The majestic mountains, the surrealistic plains, the gorgeous rivers that run through this highly spiritual land. So many people looking for inspiration are drawn to it. To live it is to love it, to not is to yearn it, even without your knowledge. It is a special world. “Another Son of Venezuela” does not only understand this, but after traveling the world, he has the knowledge to back him up.
Migguel’s love for his Venezuela is palpable. The one for his people is obvious. But it’s his love for the music and art that exudes from his every pore. Having said that, he is no fool, and when confronted with the sad realities of the Operation Condor that ravaged part of our continent, he left. Looking for a better life, looking for acceptance. Looking for the promise that his beloved couldn’t give him. And for a little over an hour he takes us with him, holding our hands with his hands and our hearts with his voice. His band The Immigrants created the sounds which would carry us from location to location. The backup singers created the harmony that hypnotized us. By the time the show ended, you realized you’ve been stuck in your chair, without moving, just to clap. It’s not a perfect evening, his voice sometimes wanders off the pitch, but it is not enough to create a distraction or to take away from his charm. It’s his ability as a storyteller that has us transfixed. It will give you chills when he sings “Freedom.”
As I sat there, looking at an empty stage, I wonder at the mirror that Migguel made me look at. This is my story. This is the story of so many people that have to leave their country because they had no other option. Unless you had to do it, you wouldn’t know. Anggelo is trying to help you understand this through his repertoire, and it matters. It matters now more than ever. At this moment in time, we have people refusing shelter to refugees. We have a presidential candidate that was born with a silver spoon, and condemns those looking for improvement in their lives. He dedicates his campaign to rally hate against what they consider outsiders. We live in an America that needs to sit down and listen, that needs to stop shouting above each other. That needs to learn compassion. “Another Son of Venezuela” is the kind of entertainment that can achieve that, or at the very least start a conversation. Shows that dare to expose the magic within, without the threat of decadence that exists outside.
Joe’s Pub has always brought the best independent performers on stage. The passion of each project I’ve seen there is transparent. Almost overwhelming. Migguel Anggelo and The Immigrants’ “Another Son of Venezuela” impacted me in ways many of them only wish they could. And when I thought it was because of my heritage, I looked to my guest and I saw her completely affected by it. When we were walking out, we had no words to say to each other but the praising of what we just seen. What I’m saying is, check his website, keep yourself in the loop, and make sure you go see his next show.
Twisted Talk: Have you seen any performances at Joe’s Pub? What was the last one you saw? Discuss below!