If you hang out in the bars and restaurants of downtown Sarasota and Siesta Key, chances are you've heard Andres Colin. He's the one who fingerpicks a classical guitar, builds his own percussion ensemble with a loop pedal and can belt out hours' worth of tunes in English, Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese. Like many professional (read: "money-making") musicians in Sarasota, Colin is good at blending into the background while people stuff themselves with fried seafood and slurp down frozen booze smoothies. That's why, when Colin throws in one of his own songs into the mix, it all too easily goes unnoticed.
Perhaps Colin says it best through his music. Here's a live video of him performing one of his English-language originals, "Thank You for your Silence."
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccEaAqHVm6oThis Friday, however, Colin and his songs will take center stage during a special concert at The Cottage on Siesta Key. Backed up by a full band of some of his favorite fellow musicians, Colin will showcase tunes from his brand new album, a sophomore release titled Universal Universe. This record marks a significant departure from Colin's debut Esta Vida (2007), recorded and released in Mexico, particularly because half the album is composed in English, the other half in Spanish.
"I realize that being bilingual opens twice as much doors for me than if I spoke only one language. I get gigs all the time thanks to singing in both Spanish and English," Colin says. However, he admits experiencing a certain struggle when it comes to promoting his original music.
"I hate to see that there's a big separation or division between American and Latin music," Colin says, "so I wanted to make an album that invites the listener to expand their musical tastes and take both sides at once."
Along with Colin's rich baritone voice, insightful lyrics and multifaceted guitar stylings, Universal Universe includes the talent of more than a dozen guest musicians. The roster includes international recording artists and local favorites, such as violinist Willie Royal (Willie and Lobo, Willie Royal Quartet), Mexican songsmith Miguel Inzunza, vocalist Ari McManus (The Lotus Fire), singer-songwriter Ben Hammond and guitarist Bryan Spainhower. The diverse backgrounds of all the musicians mesh together in a rich fusion of blues, pop, flamenco, reggae ... and then some.
Colin got his start at 12 years old, playing guitar around various cities in Mexico and absorbing different styles in the Latin oeuvre like a sponge. As his mastery of the guitar developed, so did a fascination for some far-out stuff: Themes related to science, philosophy, astronomy find their way into songs about love, loss and the way life goes.
After the release of Esta Vida, Colin relocated to the United States. He's called Sarasota his musical home for the past six years, performing in venues such as Mattison's City Grille, the Longboat Key Club, the Hub Baja Grill and Tommy Bahama. While he racked up an an extensive catalogue of covers, Andres still managed to nurture his own creative spark.
"I decided that I wanted to write songs in English as well, and that was a great challenge. I almost gave up," Colin says. "I got so frustrated that I actually stopped writing in general. But then I felt that it was time to give it a try again, and I made my first English songs. The inspiration was back and I made more and more, and decided I needed to make an album. A big challenge was to record an album, which requires lots of time, and do eight gigs per week at the same time. It’s been exhausting, but the result is great."
Colin has taken his music to Puerto Rico, Cuba and Western Europe as well. The title of his new album reflects a mentality that seems a natural product of worldwide travel and a keen ear for a wide range of musical styles.
"Now that I live in the U.S., I realize that music is universal," Colin says. Much in tune with that concept, his hopes for this album truly aim for the stars, at least in a professional musician's terms.
"With my new album release, I intend to start getting more concerts where I only play the music I write, which is in both Spanish and English," Colin says.
Universal Universe will be on sale at Friday's CD release concert for $10, and Colin plans to offer it at upcoming gigs. But it may not be long before live music lovers and liner notes enthusiasts will have to settle for an iTunes download. Colin's plans for the future include a year-long stint in Spain, where he will continue to promote Universal Universe while he studies flamenco guitar technique. Let's show him some love while he's here, livening up our happy hours and dinner dates with the classics we love and the originals with which Colin strives to move us, body, mind and soul.
CD Release Party: Universal Universe by Andres Colin
Friday, May 10
7 p.m. - no cover!
The Cottage Restaurant
153 Avenida Messina
Siesta Key, FL 34242