timesleader.com

For the love of Latin

By Geri Anne Kaikowski gkaikowski@civitasmedia.com

February 13, 2014

Ronald Drayton believes music is universal. And he believes everyone likes to party. That’s why the Wilkes-Barre concert promoter came up with the idea to bring the first full-scale Latin concert to the area.


“Music has the ability to break down barriers and open doors which might otherwise have been shut,” he said.


He decided to do just that by bringing the six hottest performers in the Latin community for a one-of-its-kind concert to the Mohegan Sun Arena on Saturday. He hopes the show will be a nice treat for Hispanics who have had to travel out of the region to see these acts as well as introduce the rest of the area to Latin music.


“A Valentine Extravaganza” will take place from 7:30 to 10 p.m. at the Wilkes-Barre Township venue. An after-party will follow from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. in the Grand Ballroom of the Woodlands Inn and Resort, Plains Township.


“I did this because we never had a Latin event of this kind in the area before,” said Drayton, of Black’N Out Entertainment. “My friends in the Latin community kept asking me to bring in some Latin music. I researched the Latin community and came up with some of the hottest acts in the business.”


The artists include Grammy-nominated reggaeton duo Alex y Fido, Fulanito, XTREME, George Lamond, J. Quiles and Rubio & Shorti.


The event will be hosted by Alex Estevez from VHI’s “Black Ink Crew” and DJ Vic Latino.


“I really want to expose the rest of the community to this type of music,” Drayton said. “My biggest goal is to open the doors of communication between various groups.”


“It means a lot for us to share the stage with these other artists,” performer Rubio of the duo Rubio & Shorti said.


His cohort Shorti is excited about the opportunity to bring Latin music to both fans and newcomers of the genre. The duo welcomes the chance to personally greet fans before and after the concert. “Our fans are our main priority,” Rubio said. “We as performers give our all to our fans. We want to talk to them and take photos with them and make the show fun for them.”


It also works to the performer’s advantage, too, as Shorti notes: “Seeing our fans really boosts our adrenaline.”


Drayton, a native New Yorker, has resided in Wilkes-Barre the past nine years and considers the city his home.


He hopes the show will be a cohesive entertainment experience that blends a variety of Latin beats, including reggaeton, bachata, meringue and salsa. He aims for the performances to transition from one artist to the other through the course of the night.


“It’s really an electic group of performers,” said Estevez, who calls her job as host “a way to connect with the crowd.” “It’s very rare to have old-school Latin performers with new-school ones, but that’s how we get the new music. It is recycled from the past.”


Drayton said it wasn’t too difficult to coordinate the schedules of the artists to get them together under one roof for one show. “I paired acts who have already worked together in some way in the past,” he said. “They have either recorded songs together, shot videos or did concerts.”


It was important for Drayton to just highlight Latino music for this show. “I didn’t want to mix a Latin concert with hip-hop and country music right now,” he said. “I hope this shows that the Latin community can support more of these types of shows and that other performers will see a market that they hadn’t realized existed in this region.”


Of his plans to continue the celebration at the Woodlands for an after-party in which all six musical acts will attend, Drayton proclaims: “We’re going all out in full party mode.”


There are plans to celebrate the birthday of Estevez. “Alex’s birthday is actually Feb. 14,” Drayton said. “But we will surprise her with a cake after her birthday at the after-show.”


The concert promoter wants fans of other musical genres to give the show a chance. He said George Lamond started as an English singer and provides music that anyone can relate to. “It’s going to be a festive environment,” Drayton said. “There’s music and dancing. Anyone can appreciate that. I hope that anyone will come out for this experience. It will be fun. You only live once.”