Puerto Plata: Preserving Forbidden Sounds

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Puerto Plata

Puerto Plata. courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Set List

"Casita de Campo"


"Mujer de Cabaret"

Jose Cobles is a soloist from the Dominican Republic who brings traditional guitar styles — bolero, merengue, ranchera, mangulina, bachata and son — to contemporary listeners. Cobles was born in Puerto Plata in 1923, to a family of musicians who exposed him to a variety of music at an early age. After purchasing his first guitar at age 24 and acquiring the nickname "Puerto Plata," Cobles began playing for crowds in underground dance halls throughout Santiago. Unfortunately for Cobles and many other musicians of his time, underground music was not supported by Trujillo's dictatorship, and thus could not be recorded in the Dominican Republic.

Luckily, the 86-year-old has since carried his style with him to the U.S., where he was given the opportunity to record. Cobles' Afro-Iberian songs offer a refreshing return to the root of modern-day bachata and merengue, maintaining youthful exuberance while preserving ancient musical forms.

Two years after releasing his international debut album Mujer de Cabaret , Cobles continues to demonstrate his wit, wisdom and raw talent on his sophomore release, Casita de Campo.

This segment originally ran Jan. 12, 2010.

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