Salsa Sensation

Cosa Seria is energizing Louisville
music scene with a Latin sound

Trombone player Smith
is an Oldham County resident

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (November 2012) – Drawing from their Latin background, the Cosa Seria band performs music for people who want to dance! By bringing their musical passion to the forefront, they engage the crowd in a vibrant, non-stop rhythm of movement wherever they perform.

Joanna Garcia

Photos by Don Ward

Joanna Garcia (above) plays the
congas in the band, while Rafael
Lopez (below) plays the keyboard.

Rafael Lopez

“Our music, mostly Salsa, is really engaging,” said Rafael Lopez, leader of Cosa Seria that is based in Louisville. “We always try to do a musical marathon (on-going performance) to keep the crowd engaged.”
Cosa Seria has been together as a band for about seven years, originally beginning with four members and working its way up to the current lineup of a seven-piece band.
“Most members of the band are trained musicians,” said Lopez, who plays the keyboards.
Band members hail from Panama, Cuba and the United States. Most have been involved with other bands before becoming part of Cosa Seria, either in Louisville or in their own country, said Lopez. He hails from Cuba and has lived in the United States for almost nine years.
“We all met here in Louisville,” he said.
In addition to Lopez, members include Joanna Garcia, Alberto Abril, Abel Delgado, Yoan Paumier, Johnny Castaneda and trombonist Mike Smith, who lives in La Grange. Some members are students at the University of Louisville Music School, where Lopez is pursuing a Bachelor of Music with emphasis in Jazz Performance.
Their name, Cosa Seria, can be interpreted as “serous stuff.” The band plays a mix of Salsa and timba, which is a Cuban blend of Latin rhythms with funk and Anglo music mixed in.
Lopez said the band focuses on doing cover songs because “we consider it the most effective way to satisfy the demands of the general public.” The band is in the process of working on some original material so it can “show the public a different perspective of this band.”

Cosa Seria crowd

Photo by Don Ward

Cosa Seria gets the crowd on
its feet each Thursday night at SkyBar
in the St. Matthews area of Louisville.

Over this past summer, the band played at several Louisville locations, including one gig at The Summit’s Thursday night free concert; several dates on the rooftop at Glassworks; and several Saturday nights at Impellizzeri’s Pizza on Market Street. But their regular weekly performance date for the past four years has been from 10:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. at SkyBar, located above Saints Pizza & Pub at 131 Breckenridge Lane in the St. Matthews area of Louisville.
They also performed in Cincinnati earlier this year. Lopez said it was a great experience for the band, with the crowd showing great interest and support.
The band “plays well together,” said SkyBar General Manager Bruce Jarrett. “Different members have come and gone over the years, but the band is very successful.”
SkyBar has been open in Louisville for the last nine years. Jarrett described it as a multipurpose space, great for holiday parties, receptions and large get-together type functions. It has become a popular spot to play host to St. Matthew’s hottest nightlife events as well. A deejay follows Cosa Seria, keeping things lively until 2 a.m.
Lopez said SkyBar was “the place that helped us show ourselves as a solid project.” The SkyBar is a great place to spend time with friends, socialize and enjoy good live music, he said.
“The Salsa community has become stronger because of this magical place.”
Cosa Seria recently celebrated its fourth anniversary of performing at SkyBar. They are joined on Thursday nights by Gabriel Scott, who offers advanced and intermediate Salsa Lessons from 8:15-9 p.m., and beginner lessons from 9-9:45 p.m. Registration is not required but patrons are asked to pay by the lesson.
“Gabriel Scott, a great dance instructor, has collaborated directly with us to develop the interest of the community in this musical genre,” said Lopez.
Scott has a dance studio in the building next to Saints and SkyBar.
“You can learn to dance, then dance to a live band,” Jarrett said. Every once in a while, a Salsa party is held at the SkyBar.

Cosa Seria

Photo by Don Ward

Members of Cosa Seria, a seven-piece
Latin music band, pose Oct. 25 just
prior to taking the stage at SkyBar
in Louisville. They are (from left)
Johnny Gastaneda (drums), Mike
Smith (trombone), Abel Delgado
(singer), Alberto Abril (bass),
Joanna Garcia (congas), Yoan
Paumier (trumpet) and
Rafael Lopez (keyboards).

Jarrett said Salsa music and dance has “been popular in general for the last few years. People see it on TV now on shows like ‘So You Think You Can Dance?’ and ‘Dancing With the Stars.’ ”
Cosa Seria has a loyal following due to “an incessant and persistent desire to provide people in Louisville with good live entertainment,” Lopez said. “The crowd has always been extremely supportive and every time we perform somewhere, they are there, rain or shine.”
Lopez said audiences definitely like the atmosphere surrounding the band’s live performance. “That interaction between you and the crowd is unique and unrepeatable. Every time we go on stage, it is a new experience.”

• Cosa Seria plays plays every Thursday night at SkyBar, located above Saints Pizza and Pub, 131 Breckenridge Lane in Louisville. Salsa beginner and advanced lessons are provided from 8:15- 9:30 p.m. by local instructor Gabriel Scott. The band takes the stage from 10:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. Admission is $7 for the band or $10 for the band including lessons. Call (502) 891-8883 for information.

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