Leading Spanish hip-hop/flamenco fusion act Ojos de Brujo had to cancel its London concert at the Roundhouse venue, because the United Kingdom consulate in Madrid refused to issue visas to the band’s two Cuban musicians.
Ojos de Brujo’s manager Jemima Cano said from her Barcelona office today (April 28) that the band ordered the suspension of the April 27 show at the last minute.
“We were in the consulate all morning, and then again this morning, because we have concerts booked for Edinburgh on Thursday [April 30] and Liverpool on Friday, May 1,” says Cano. She says they requested visas to be provided within 48 hours and remain hopeful about being able to perform.
“This is a terrible hassle,” says Cano. “London is really important for us, it’s the music capital of Europe.” She adds that the band is preparing to perform “more world music-sounding” acoustic concerts at the theater venues in Edinburgh (Picturehouse) and Liverpool (Philharmonic Hall), if Cuban band members Carlitos Sarduy (trumpet, keyboard) and Enrique Ferrer (drummer) are unable to travel.
Ojos de Brujo have toured many countries around the world since their 1996 formation, and their awards include the 2007 Latin Grammy for best flamenco album (“Techarí” on their own Diquela label), the BBC World Music award in 2004 and Spain’s Premios de la Música award for best tour in 2005.
The London Roundhouse gig, which Cano says will be rearranged later in the year, had sold some 2,300 tickets and “probably would have been a 3,000-ticket sell-out”, she adds. Ojos de Brujo’s 2009 tour started in Madrid on March 23, and takes in venues in the U.K., Morocco, Greece, Portugal, France and Slovenia until late July. Other dates will be added, with the U.S. and Canada scheduled for 2010.
The tour is to promote the band’s fourth studio album, “Aocana,” which is their first on a major label, Warner Spain. It has been in Spain’s Media Control charts since its March 17 release, and has been issued in much of Europe and Scandinavia, as well as Japan (April 21) and Mexico (April 28). “Aocana” will be released in the U.S. on May 19.
Cano says officials at the U.K. consulate gave many reasons for not granting the two visas, which were requested one month ago. She says her booking agent in the U.K., Andy Wood of London-based booking agency Comono, has booked many Cubans over the past 23 years, “and this is the first time anything like this has happened.”
She adds, “Apparently, the consulate was not happy with the sponsorship certificate, which requires a letter of invitation from the promoter [in London]. They refused to accept that Enrique and Carlitos had enough money for the visit – it’s absurd, we [Ojos de Brujo] were going to pay everything. Enrique and Carlitos are legal residents in Spain, but with Cuban passports. The problem in this case is that they are Cubans, and we know how many people in the West view that.”