The visit in a dream of Juana Mayo, Pablo Pueblo, Juan Pachanga, Ligia Elena, Pedro Navaja and Josefina Wilson -some of the most emblematic characters that Ruben Blades has given life through his songs- led to the beginning of the debate and reflection around his retirement.
“All the characters approached me to say: ‘hey, are you leaving? Aren’t you going to talk about us anymore? Who is going to talk about us now?” said the 73-year-old Panamanian singer-songwriter.
“When my age is approaching, in terms of reality, I can’t take it for granted that next year everything will be fine. So that makes one think about what are the other things that I have to attend to and what do I have to give my attention to right now”, the artist abounded in an interview with THE SPOKESPERSON.
The flirtation with retirement has led him to catch up on some pending issues, such as writing his biography.
“I am working on a book. I’m writing my memoirs, experiences for Random House. It is already in the revision process for the manuscript. That will come out in 2024”, advanced the also actor, who remains in the series Fear The Walking Dead and has fifty credits in film and television, in which he has shared the screen with Harrison Ford, Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton, Danny Glover and Robert De Niro, among others.
Likewise, he takes advantage of every moment of the energy that he exhibits and spreads, to continue making music, this after his recent production Salswing!, which earned him both the Latin Grammy and the Anglo-Saxon one.
In the coming weeks, he will release an album that he prepared with the Brazilian group Boca Livre.
“They have made adaptations of my songs in the Brazilian style and we have recorded it in five voices. Of songs like Tell me, Juana Mayo, Without your love, Paula C, Pedro Navaja. Now we are going to present it in a Brazilian way and with Boca Livre”, explained the salsa poet.
This album will be followed by the second part of Paradise Road Gang, which he described as a “mix of genres”. “It is a production by Luis Enrique Becerra, who is Roberto Delgado’s keyboard player. The album has reggaeton, Latin jazz, pop”, he specified.
Salsa will always be a reference
Given the saturation of urban music in the industry, the voice of Ligia Elena estimates that at some point a breaking point will come.
“If I don’t like something, I don’t hear it. I do not wish death on anyone, nor do I wish them to be boycotted or removed. I don’t like it, I don’t hear it. I believe that the state of music is going to be determined by the tastes of the moment and the reality that exists at that time”, he stressed.
His reflection on the evolution and diffusion of music leads him to conclude that salsa, like other genres, will continue to be a benchmark.
“Salsa will always continue as a benchmark. That will never disappear, just as tango, chachachá, guaguancó, rock and roll, jazz, and blues have not disappeared nor will they disappear. That will be kept as a reference. Now, the interpretations that are going to be given to these genres are going to depend on the reality that exists at the moment and that goes with a generational question, which will always change, ”clarified the also lawyer.
Long-awaited collaboration with Residente
On the other hand, Blades does not hide his admiration for his René Pérez, better known as Residente. So much so, that he assured that they have been in talks for a collaboration for some time, but the busy agenda of both has prevented the union.
“That I want to do something with him, yes. I am interested to know in what direction he would take that collaboration, because he has many ideas and he has a very strong imagination “he highlighted.
Salswing to the Choliseo
On the other hand, on May 14 it will be presented at the Puerto Rico Coliseum, thus ending more than three years of absence from local stages.
The concert is part of the Salswing Tour, which will take you to different parts of the world. However, he recognizes the importance of presenting himself on Puerto Rican soil.
Blades announced that he will sing the songs of Salswing!, as well as the songs that have marked his 52-year artistic career.
“I am going to start with some songs that I sang in Panama when I was 16, 17 years old. I’ll start with an introduction and from there we go with Cheo (Feliciano). Then we go with the sextet, with all the representative songs of my career, with Willie Colón, Rey Barreto, and now with Roberto Delgado’s Big Band”, he warned.
Called to enter politics
On the other hand, after the arrests carried out yesterday by the federal authorities on the mayors of Aguas Buenas and Humacao, the Panamanian singer-songwriter made a call to Puerto Ricans, ahead of the 2024 elections.
“Right now I know what the moors are going through with those five mayors and what I recommend to the youth and the people of Aguas Buenas and Humacao, that they participate in the process. Let them run for office… In order to get out of corruption, there have to be more candidacies from people who have not participated in the political process before,” he said.
He insisted that everything begins by changing the system and he believed that, even if a person is correct, if he enters a corrupt system, he would end up committing acts of corruption.
Blades, who aspired to the presidency of Panama in 1998, added that those who want to change the system in Puerto Rico have to start working “now.”
“It’s like independence in Puerto Rico. The independence argument is a good argument, but one has to be prepared for it. That means, how is Puerto Rico going to sustain itself without federal aid? That is something that you have to start seeing now. From now on you have to prepare for that, ”she added.
He does not rule out returning to public service
This call and exhortation to citizens to insert themselves into public service from the governmental sphere, is given based on his experience as Minister of Tourism of Panama from 2004 to 2009.
“Public service elevated me in a way that a Grammy or a full house of music doesn’t. You are serving your country and your people,” she highlighted.
In that sense, he does not rule out running again for some public office in his native Panama, but for the moment “I see it out of the cards,” he acknowledged.
Salswing Tour tickets available at Ticketera.