CACHE with DJ BILLY BRYANS at Lula Lounge (1585 Dundas West), Friday (May 9). $10. 416-588-0307. And at the Bambu by the Lake (245 Queen's Quay West), Monday (May 12). $10. 416-214-6000. Rating: NNNNN
Like many great things, caché began over barbecue.The salsa crew - formerly known as Con Caché - has, in various incarnations, been encouraging dancers to scuff up Toronto floors for almost a decade, but it was only over a grill of scorched meat that the group truly took shape.
Built out of the rhythm sections of Pacande and Vibrason and featuring key members from other salsa and Latin music bands around town, Caché seemed virtually guaranteed to be successful. The only stumbling block was whether the players would commit to stepping out from the background and into the spotlight in their own right. Once that crucial decision was made, the horns started honking for real.
"We'd played together for years," Caché founder and percussionist Wilson Acevedo laughs while bouncing his gurgling three-month-old daughter on his knee. "In that time we'd developed this chemistry between us, so we could play things by heart. But we needed more, so we sat down during a barbecue at our bass player's place and decided to put the band together.
"We'd been together for a long time, but always with other people, so it's great to be able to finally do our own thing. It's been a year, but the band's so tight now, it seems like we've been together for 15."
Caché also benefit from diversity. The eight-piece group features players from Colombia, Venezuela and South Africa as well as jazz vets from Toronto and St. Catharines.
It's a uniquely Torontonian mix and brings a peculiar twist to the group's take on salsa. Caché's explosive, vibraphone-driven Latin dance tunes don't adhere to traditional Colombian/ Puerto Rican/Cuban salsa borders.
In a scene where the roots of salsa are hotly debated and authenticity is like gold, Acevedo boldly suggests that his band plays a "purely Canadian" version of salsa music.
"There's a lot going on in our music," Acevedo confirms. "There's jazz, there's Afro, there's folk, there's polka . Our vibraphone player is actually the bassist for (squeezebox king) Walter Ostanek.
"We bring a lot of the old sounds together, but because of who everyone is, what comes out is something new. It's salsa, but it's Canadian salsa, and calling it that can cause us problems.
"We were playing at Mel Lastman Square last summer and a woman introduced us as a Cuban band. Our singer corrected her and it created this huge scandal. She was furious. It sounds more authentic if you say you're from Cuba, but this is Canada and we can't deny that. We want to teach people that just because you're from Canada doesn't mean you can't be an international band."
firstname.lastname@example.orgLust for Lula
Caché's Saturday-night throwdowns at Lula Lounge have become one of the weekend's guaranteed good times. They've also helped turn the group into an airtight ensemble and have mirrored the rise of the club itself.
The funky Dundas West lounge appeared as the scene started to expand, grow and solidify, with bands as diverse as Son Aché, Quimica Perfecta and the Palenke Orchestra suddenly moving beyond coy standards into original material.
Previously spread around town from the Bamboo to Berlin, the scene seemed to coalesce around the club. While Son Aché's Friday-night dust-up at Cervejaria remains a gathering place for many in the scene, Lula Lounge has turned the dancing into a week-long affair, booking local acts as well as last summer's scorcher by Cuban timba terror Issac Delgado. Caché have taken full advantage and turned their Saturday set into an old-school descarga, complete with special guests and dance lessons.
"We couldn't ask for a better gig," Wilson Acevedo enthuses. "Every week we get tighter and tighter, and we can try out little things and see how people react. It's my favourite day of the week."