When guitarist, vocalist and percussionist Renesito Avich moved here from Havana three years ago to be near his father and other family members, he brought along the rhythms of traditional Cuban music.
Avich’s instrument of choice is the national instrument of Cuba, the tres guitar—a guitar with two sets of three steel strings, “like half a 12-string guitar,” he says. Avich, 27, plays with intensity and energy—and virtuosity, a tribute to his education, first at a conservatory in his native Santiago de Cuba and later at the University of the Arts Havana, where he became a professor of music.
Before Avich moved to Sarasota, he played the guitar for three years with the famed 17-member salsa band, Elito Revé y su Charangón. The big-band ensemble toured all over Europe and South America. He says he is relishing the smaller venues he plays here—Monday nights at The Cottage on Siesta Key, Tuesday nights at Burns Court Café, Wednesdays at Clasico in downtown Sarasota and Friday nights alternating between restaurants in Venice and Englewood. He also performs occasional concerts at Café in the Park and at private parties.
Using a loop machine, Avich becomes a one-man Cuban orchestra, building the music around seven instruments. And the former teacher is still teaching, only now from the stage.
“I’m bringing to Sarasota all the traditional sounds of my country, the repertoire I’ve learned since I was six years old,” he says. Listeners often recognize the music from the popular film and album Buena Vista Social Club. He also plays his own compositions, which are inspired by his country’s musical heritage. “I’m always trying to make a connection between my culture and what I’m learning from America,” he says. “It’s something people don’t see often live. I’m so happy to bring that alive here in town.”