His lyrics may be in Spanish, but his guitar speaks the universal language of music.
Mexican guitarist Julio Cabrera brings the music and soul of warmer climes to Juneau next week. A recording artist, band leader, singer, teacher and concert musician, Cabrera performs Thursday, Aug. 31, at Northern Light United Church.
"He plays traditional Latin styles, and he composes in all styles. He can write salsa music, he can arrange horns, and he can play Argentinean and Brazilian music," said Curt Terrall, a Juneau guitarist who is bringing Cabrera to town. "He loves to talk about the music and the songs."
Cabrera also plays traditional Mexican folk music and songs, as well as Merengue, the popular dance music of the Dominican Republic. His two CDs reflect his ensemble playing with a salsa group as well as his singing and guitar work as a soloist.
Terrall said Cabrera is bringing Guatemalan percussionist Manuel Juarez to Juneau for the concert.
Cabrera, 39, was born and raised in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, into a musical and artistic family. His father is a painter and pianist, two of his uncles are musicians and his sister is a professional singer. Cabrera was blinded in an accident at the age of 18, and has since devoted his life to music. He plays piano and percussion, but considers the nylon-string guitar to be his main instrument.
Terrall met Cabrera in Puerto Vallarta a few years ago, and the two struck up a friendship. Cabrera invited the Juneau guitarist onstage to perform with him, and the two jammed together at Cabrera's family home. They also spent an evening out on the town in the company of a group of Puerto Vallarta musicians, friends of Cabrera.
"Julio is the life of the party," Terrall said.
The Juneau musician is already an accomplished guitarist, but said he seized the opportunity to take some guitar lessons from Cabrera.
"When I watch him, I see somebody that I can only emulate. He's very advanced on the guitar, and especially with his right hand strumming techniques. Rhythmically, his music is much more complicated than what we do," Terrall said.
Cabrera has toured Europe and Western Canada and played extensively in Mexico. In addition to his solo work, he also performs with his band, Son Cuatro. He also teaches private lessons and has taught at the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, an annual intensive, week-long music camp.
For many years, Cabrera has divided his time between Victoria, B.C., and Puerto Vallarta. He operated a recording studio and business in Mexico, but Terrall said he recently moved the studio to Victoria.
Cabrera and Juarez will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 31. Admission is $10, and tickets are available at Hearthside Books and at the door. Cabrera will also teach a guitar workshop at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 2, at a location yet to be determined. Call 463-3571 for details.