Latin sensation plays the Cafe
The family that plays together stays together. Mimi Maura, the Argentina based Latin ska singer was back at Fuji Rock after a 5 year hiatus. This time she brought along her husband, Sergio Rotman on guitar, sax and vocals, as well as their son, Leroy, who plays the keys. Rounding out the group were an additional five Japanese members supporting Mimi, who was clearly the star of the show.
Mimi Maura is a fairly big star at home in Latin America, so to get to see her perform in the intimate setting of the Cafe de Paris is a treat. For this early afternoon set she performed a range of styles and genres, original songs and covers. The language barrier kept banter fairly simple on the mic, but with the set time only lasting 45 minutes that was best as to allow Mimi and the band to fit in the most amount of music.
While I’m not familiar with Mimi’s original songs, the covers the band played were spot on. They played a sublimely chilled out version of Nina Simone’s “Sinnerman”, then a fairly accurate, reggae/ska rendition of Dawn Penn’s classic “You Don’t Love Me”. The bulk of the tunes they played during their set fit into a kind of Latin ska/reggae and garnered a great response from the small but appreciative Cafe crowd.
Mimi got into a duet with her husband Sergio, which was rather intimate and sensual, as the pair danced and whispered pleasant sounding Spanish phrases to one another. The band moved into a reggae infused version of The Beatles, “Ticket to Ride” and then a group singalong of the classic Mexican tune, “La Bamba”. That tune literally means to shake or move and that was the effect it had on both our group and audience.
While the shorter set didn’t give the group a whole lot of time to improvise, we were taken on a journey from soft Spanish stylings to faster dancable ska shakers. They ended the set with another fan favorite in Bob Marley’s “Judge Not”. As the band made it’s way off stage, Mimi stayed on and delivered a farewell a capella to the appreciative crowd for another great Fuji Rock appearance.
While Mimi Maura may not be the sensation in Japan she is at home, she seemed to really enjoy playing here with her husband and son supporting her. She most likely has a lot more freedom to play what she wants here in Japan. This is evidenced by the eclectic mix of covers we were treated to. These are classic tunes that have stood the test of time, tunes that are no doubt loved by her family and lovers of music in general. Mimi Maura is a powerful singer and an award winning performer. She is a joy to see perform live. Like her father before her, and from the looks of it her son after her, music is something that will remain in her life forever. I have no doubt we’ll be seeing Mimi Maura at Fuji Rock again.