Volume 93, Issue x

Wednesday, March 18, 1999


Costner at home on field

Death in Vegas turns up a disappointing success

Miguel innovates classic Meringue

An idiot's guide to the idiot box

John Popper snaps and crackles

Miguel innovates classic Meringue

Gazette file photo

QUALITY MENSWEAR AT AFFORDABLE PRICES. Latin music hopeful Juan Miguel salsas his way into the hearts of meringue fans worldwide with his frenetic brand of Latin tunes.

By Luke Rundle

Gazette Staff

With the current popularity of Latin music on the modern airwaves, demand for the art form remains quite high. Rather than emulating any of the artists behind this recent surge, musician Juan Miguel is keeping the genre fresh by adding unique variations and adapting the music to his own influences.

While respecting the work of the great meringue artists of the past, Miguel has taken the musical form in a brand new direction by using unconventional instruments and an hyperkinetic stage show.

His current independent release, Ojitos Lindos was produced by internationally acclaimed meringue producer Ramon Orlando Valoy, who has worked with Grammy winning Latin artists such as Juan Luis Guerra and his band 4:40. Recorded in both the Dominican Republic and Toronto and mixed at Truetone Studios in New York, the album displays Miguel's unconventional methods for achieving meringue madness in his audience.

"A normal band has the singer at the forefront, a few back-up vocalists at the sides and the band at the back, with no one moving but the singer. We have male and female back-up singers and the band gets up and dances, interacting with the audience," Miguel proudly states.

While he also does smaller shows, Miguel feels it is his larger live shows where his music is at its most infectious. He even involves members of the audience in his stage shows, showing them a few mambo dance steps or inviting a few on stage to perform with the dancers.

With his subtle singing style, Miguel stands in contrast to his more grand lyrical peers, whose broad stylings sometimes tend to overshadow the music. Miguel doesn't need to over-vocalize, however, as audiences contribute to the verses without even knowing what the mainly Spanish vocals mean. "It's actually funny in Toronto when we play the dance halls, because people learn the lyrics and sing along with us just because they like the sound of the words," Miguel claims.

He insists, however, his innovative approach to the elements of the music are responsible for much of his music's popularity. From adapting John Lennon's "Imagine" to meringue, to using instruments like the violin and accordion in the instrumentals, Miguel's sound is truly unique.

"You can't always give audiences the same stuff, or they're going to get bored," Miguel says. "A lot of other meringue bands tend to be very repetitive and we're trying to stay away from that."

With his current single, "Amor Curandero" residing at the number two position on many Toronto area stations, Miguel and his companions are looking forward to future tour dates. Booked to close a meringue festival in Vancouver, Miguel is planning tours through the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and the United States in the near future.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999