By Sarah Spencer
Even though the temperature was below freezing outside, it was gettin' hot at
the Chicken Shack inside! (Sticky Fingerz Chicken Shack in downtown Little Rock,
to be precise). Although the small dance floor at the intimate venue was less
than ideal for the large crowd, it was a "fantasmic" night with huge talent
ready to entertain.
The evening started off with a pleasant surprise
as I was not aware of an opener for the 2009 Grammy nominated Grupo Fantasma.
As it turned out, local favorite Lucious Spiller was on hand to entertain the
crowd. With only himself and his electric guitar, he readied and motivated the
audience for a high octane time with his cover renditions of Prince, Jimmy
Hendrix and Sam Cooke classics.
While Lucious Spiller was playing,
my eagle eye spotted three band members from Grupo Fantasma minding their own
business, standing in a side hallway. After some coaxing, my friend Brede
accompanied me over to congratulate them on the Grammy nomination for Best Latin
Album. We introduced ourselves to Gilbert Elorreaga, trumpet player,
Kino Rodriguez, vocals and percussionist, and Adrian Quesada, one of the
band's amazing guitarists and head producer. Adrian obliged me with
a copy of their play list at the end of their set to help me remember song
titles; a necessary provision since I don't speak Spanish and the majority of
their music is sung in Spanish.
The 10-member Latin funk band
surprisingly all fit on the small stage. They first started with a brief
introduction then, right on into the dance inspiring music. During, "Arroz con
Frijoles," lead singer, timbales (type of drum) player and primary songwriter
Jose Galeano encouraged the crowd to sing along, which we did. During every
song the floor was packed to capacity with Arkansans getting acquainted with
their inner Latin dancer with our own versions of the salsa, rumba, mambo, and
cumbia. One of my dance partners told me that they "make you wanna dance and I
The band, which hails from Austin, Texas, has a growing
fan base, including Prince who is quoted as saying about the band, "[They are]
real musicians playing real music." Their set concluded with "Gimme Some" from
their new album, Sonidos Gold. Groupo Fantasma
puts on a superior, talent-filled, can-see-why-they-got-a-Grammy-nod, fun kind
of show where you won't be able to resist the urge to get up and move because
they "make you wanna dance!"