Music note: Afro-Cuban all-stars New Primitives

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I didn’t realize just how much I dug Afro-Cuban rock until I ran into New Primitives. Sure, I always remembered being into War and Santana, but not a whole lot of folk play that stuff these days. So when I got the chance to catch New Primitives at their weekly Thursday night performance at the Cabooze a while back, I was thoroughly delighted.

Also in the Daily Planet, read Dwight Hobbes’s interview with Stanley Kipper.

I was bummed when they stopped doing that gig last summer. My spirits picked up, of course, when they announced just before Thanksgiving that they’d now be setting up camp every week, again on Thursdays, at Nye’s Polonaise Room. I kept meaning to get down there, but me and Minnesota cold aren’t the best of friends to begin with, and this year we suffered through an especially brutal beast. Finally, this spring, I managed to get down there and catch the fellas in action again—and to have my first look-see at the nightclub. As a two-in-one experience, it wasn’t half-bad.

Nye’s Polonaise Room is well-known as an ethnic joint that serves out-of-sight Polish food. Yeah, I know, it’s not the first kind of establishment that comes to mind when you think of Afro-Cuban rock—but it works. It also happens to be a hell of a good place to catch an act up close and personal. You can find places like it all over Boston, which is exactly what walking in there immediately put me in mind of. It’s a down-to-earth space where a high-power band can blow your brains out over a stiff drink and a cold beer.


Be sure to request “Bring Me Down,” a hip-shakin’ booty-thumper that’ll have you up on your feet like you was born dancin’.


New Primitives were tailor-made to play this spot—and, in fact, they’ve done so many times in the past. Their performance the night I went gave a strong indication of why the boys were invited to be regulars. Everybody cooked, with frontman Stanley Kipper (vocals, timbales) and Javier Trejo (guitar, vocals) supplying the War and the Santana respectively—via original music. You have to go down there some night and make them play (if they don’t happen to have it on the set list) a cut off their album New Primitives called “Bring Me Down.” Written by producer and occasional band member Brian “Snowman” Powers, one of nastiest sax players in creation, it’s a hip-shakin’ booty-thumper that’ll have you up on your feet like you was born dancin’. While you’re putting in the request, make one for “Buscando La Gente.” Trejo’s interetation of this Mexican traditional burns beyond belief.

Long story short: if you ever find yourself sitting around on a Thursday night with some time to kill, grab a friend and drag ‘em on down to Nye’s for some New Prims. You’ll be glad you did.

Dwight Hobbes is a writer based in the Twin Cities. He contributes regularly to the TC Daily Planet.