Sreening of award winning documentary:
SANTO DOMINGO BLUES:
Los Tígueres de la Bachata
The Story of Luis Vargas, The Supreme King of Bitterness
Friday July 18th 2008
Bowery Poetry Club
308 Bowery btwn Bleecker and Houston
$10 at the door and $8 presale if you go to
Click here for presale
Plus FREE after party playing the best Bachata, Merengue, Salsa, and various other Latin grooves
Eliel Lucero (Funkworthy FM)
Geko Jones (Dutty Artz, Funkworthy FM)
More on the Movie
Santo Domingo Blues
''Santo Domingo Blues'' never lets us forget that bachata is a music of loose hips and tight pants, of spicy lyrics and sexy rhythms. The words may be bitter, but the notes are sweet, and the director, Alex Wolfe, wisely allows the songs to narrate his film. Splicing interviews with lively concert clips filmed in the Dominican Republic and New York, Mr. Wolfe takes us to the cantinas, carwashes, bars and bodegas where bachata thrives.
Without losing sight of the music's essential energy, Mr. Wolfe peppers his film with quietly resonant shots: a restive line at the United States Embassy in Santo Domingo, a monstrous pile of discarded beer bottles behind a house in Santa María. The Dominican poor and bachata are never far apart.
But for Mr. Vargas, the king of bachata, poverty is in the past. The proud owner of a new recording studio and luxury hotel, Mr. Vargas has clearly traveled far from his humble beginnings in Santa María, where his father still lives. In one of those wonderful, stumbled-upon moments that speak volumes, we watch Mr. Vargas prepare for a Santiago concert by spraying himself liberally with Banana Republic cologne before confessing how little his wealth means to him. ''Money can't buy the love of a woman,'' he tells his rapturous audience. But, of course, he has come far enough to know that it can.
- Jeannette Catsoulis, The New York Times
Ry Who-der? Alex Wolfe's documentary Santo Domingo Blues adroitly traces a noble history of bachata—a formerly ignoble Dominican musical form—while feeling intimate all the same. Warm'n'fuzziness is lent by the genre's impossibly humble and genial "Supreme King," Luis Vargas, our guide from Santiago and Santa Maria to South Williamsburg. Bachata is quintessential Quisqueyana, but wasn't always so. Bachateros were maligned for years by the D.R.'s upper crust for playing "musica del bajo mundo" ("underground music," one among other less euphemistic terms), and ridiculed by some D.R.-to-N.Y. transplants for making "crybaby music," bachata being thematically infused with lost love and unresolvable bitterness. But hey, bitterness is contagious, and so is the music's sugary three-chord twinkle. Wolfe's anecdotal musicology succeeds precisely because of its bare-bones, bawdy yet beautiful approach—just like the music Vargas makes.
- Pete L'Official, Village Voice
Few films about music explain a style as well as "Santo Domingo Blues," a documentary about Dominican bachata by Alex Wolfe. Its focus is Luis Vargas, one of the most successful practitioners of this back-country, working-class music about heartbreak and jealousy. (It is largely driven by clean, staccato acoustic guitar picking and light-voiced singing, with the insistent scrape of a metal guiro in the background.) The film shows where he grew up in the Dominican Republic; his current wealth (he owns a recording studio and hotel, with a gold disc framed on every guest's door); his gigantic shows back home; and his whirlwind tours through the Dominican neighborhoods of New York, where he sometimes plays three gigs a night. Mr. Vargas is both proud of and beset by the perception of bachata as low-class music. At the same time, its deep sentiment makes Dominican immigrants pine for their own country, especially at Christmastime; New Yorkers in particular ought to see the film, because they will learn about where they live.
- Ben Ratliff, New York Times