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June 2, 2014

Salsa Shakers heat up Lions Park

NORMAN — As temperatures climbed to nearly 90 degrees Sunday afternoon, just when the sun began to set and Norman residents thought things would cool down, the Salsa Shakers began to heat things up.

The band was featured in the second performance of the Summer Breeze Concert Series at Lions Park, getting children and adult on their feet with tropical beats.

“The sound of the music is tropical. That’s a very broad term, but mainly it conjures music from the islands such as Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and even though New York is not in the tropics, the term ‘salsa’ was born in New York. So the name of Salsa Shakers is based on movement, based on the connection between the song and dance,” percussionist Armando Rivera said.

The band was founded in July 2013 by Rivera and bass player Raul Reyes. It is a six-piece salsa and Latin jazz band that succeeded in bringing a huge party to Norman for the Summer Breeze concert.

Rivera said they want to bridge the divide between song and dance, so they encourage people by giving them salsa 101 impromptu lessons.

“People usually listen to music, and we bring that aspect of our culture; we are making people want to come and dance with us,” he said. “That usually breaks the ice between the performers and the audience so we all of the sudden become one.”

The band has members from all over, as each brings their musical influences from Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and the United States.

“We’re the melting pot,” Rivera said, who has played with many different groups in Norman and abroad.

“In a city such as Norman that is pretty eclectic and has a lot of different cultures, it is very inviting for us to be here because we know that people are going to appreciate what they are going to hear. And everywhere, really, not exclusive to Norman, but it’s, like, for us it’s like homecoming.”

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