Fine Arts Council to host concert at Watertown’s Highland Park

Last summer the Watertown Area Fine Arts Council brought the sounds of Cuba to the Performing Arts Center in the form of jazz musician Nachito Herrera.

This year, thanks to the FAC, it will be Highland Park that will come alive with the sounds of the Islands when Cyril Paul and the Calypso Monarchs perform at the park grandstand on June 15.

There will be no charge for the concert, but a free will donation will be collected. The event will start at 4 p.m., and food and beverages will be sold by the Watertown Lions Club.

“I think it will be very enjoyable,” FAC president Mary Lou Jirik said. “He’s been here before, maybe 8 or 10 years ago, and everybody really enjoyed him.”

Paul hails from the Caribbean island nation of Trinidad, where he first began his musical career as a singer and bongo artist. Paul — who now resides in the Twin Cities — and his band are known for Calypso melodies and all the other types of music from the Islands, including rumba, bolero, cha cha and reggae.

Paul described the Caribbean way of life as care free, relaxing and informal, where residents like to poke fun at each other and make visitors feel at home. He said he strives to convey those feelings in his music and in his performances, which he said he prefers to be more of an experience than a concert.

“The music will tell you to put your hands in the air, sing and join us,” Paul said. “I actually don’t like people to clap as an audience, because it makes it feel too much like a concert. I don’t want this to fee like a concert. I want it to feel like a little party, a little community get-together where people heave a good time, dance, sing, and have a little picnic, and not just come to hear the music.”

The Calypso Monarchs consist of Paul and four or five other musicians playing guitar, keyboard, bass, drums, and sometimes steel drums. Paul and his band have performed at a wide variety of functions all over Minnesota including weddings, private parties, corporate functions, churches, schools, and park concerts.

“He’s a character,” Jirik said. “I’m really anxious to see him. I saw him 10 years ago, and he’s funny. He’s going to be very interactive. He has people up dancing, and he says he’s going to be teaching some calypso dance steps. He has a very infectious personality, and he interacts well with his audience.”

This outdoor concert will be the first of two musical performances the Fine Arts Council hosts this year. The FAC will once again be hosting a jazz concert at the Performing Arts Center featuring Herrera. This year’s event, however, will be held in October instead of during the summer, like it was last year.

“The reason we’re doing it in October is we’re hoping to really incorporate the school,” Jirik said. “The concert will be on Saturday night this year, and during the day on Friday, Nachito is going to have master classes for the jazz ensembles for a lot of the surrounding schools. That’s why we’re having it in the fall, so the kids can have some time to practice. We’re expanding on it a little bit, and we’re hoping every year it will grow a little bit more.”

Contact Matt Bunke at [email protected]