Performing with Afro-Cuban band Son Aché is what makes Christian Saldivia tick.
The North Toronto resident has been involved in Latin American music his whole life.
The son of Chilean musician Victor Saldivia, the younger Saldivia grew up surrounded by the colourful and soulful rhythms of bongos, guitars, trumpets, and vocals.
His father headed Toronto’s Chilean band Grupo Taller which began in the late 1970s and played until 2006.
As a small child, Saldivia tagged along to his father’s performances, often falling asleep on one of the seats by the stage. Eventually, he graduated to playing bass with the group when he was 15.
“There is something about it, it’s so contagious,” he says about performing. “I was hooked.”
Son Aché is a traditional salsa band filled with hot Afro-Cuban beats. It’s get up and shake what your mamma gave you kind of music, Saldivia says.
The 12-year-old band began as a branch of Klave Y Kongo, a Cuban band. Saldivia joined in 1997 and when Klave Y Kongo folded a
year later, he took it upon himself to start a new band.
“Our style of music wasn’t being played here in Toronto,” says Saldivia. “There are a lot of salsa, Latin and meringue bands but never a Cuban-based traditional band.
“Anybody who listens to us says (the music) is infectious.”
Son Aché band is made of percussionists, singers, trumpeters, a traditional six-string Cuban guitar, a pianist and bassist.
Saldivia is happy Son Aché has staying power in Toronto.
“It’s fantastic,” he says. “I never really expected us to be as exceptional as it has been … to work with such great musicians.”
Performing is an incredible feeling, he continues.
“It’s a real warm feeling to know we are putting music together. It’s an incredible feeling when everything sounds just right,” Saldivia says.
The biggest problem with the city’s music scene is the lack of support given to bands, Saldivia says.
Club owners rarely pay artists what they are worth to perform forcing the musicians to find work unrelated to music.
Saldivia is no exception. The father of three spends his off time raising his young children while working as a handyman around town.
Still, Saldivia, whose talent is as big as his personality, dreams big.
“I see us touring all over Canada and the world,” Saldivia says, with a hearty laugh.
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