North Bergen resident Edgar Gonzalez’s unique guitar sounds filled an intimate space during a free concert at the William V. Musto Cultural Center in Union City recently. Whether he played solo or with accompanist Premik Russell Tubbs on wind instruments, he took audiences for a tour around the world with his “Together Alone” performance on Friday, July 10.
With Gonzalez on his Godin guitar, and Tubbs on a wind synthesizer, flute, and other instruments, the pair played for a crowd of about 30.
Attendees enjoyed refreshments and candlelight ambiance, surrounded by art hanging on the walls of the second floor gallery.
The concert, sponsored by Union City Mayor Brian Stack and the Board of Commissioners, is one of a series of free evening events at the center that aim to highlight and unite Hudson County artists.
“It’s intimate, and you get the crowd that enjoys these types of programs, and you feel more at ease than going to New York City,” said attendee Nancy Boude from North Bergen.
“A lot of artists have come out of the woodwork. The county is so rich in culture. I’m so happy to have Edgar here tonight.” – Lucio Fernandez
As an accomplished composer, he is influenced by Brazilian music, Latin American, American jazz, and Spanish music — where, he said during the concert, “geographically, east meets west.” He also played a flamenco-inspired piece that he said captured the flavor of India.
Sights and sounds
Gonzales also said during the concert that he’s inspired by artists like Sir Frederic Leighton. Gonzalez wrote a song based on Leighton’s 1895 oil painting, “Flaming June.” The painting itself has done some traveling. Usually in Puerto Rico, the painting is currently on display in New York City.
Gonzalez reflected on life near the river with his meditative “Guitar on the Hudson.” Others were more rhythmic tunes, like “Happiness,” which are riffs on coming of age.
Between songs during the show, Gonzales talked about his influences and inspirations.
“This is about the time when I was a boy, and encountered the beach for the first time,” Gonzalez said, as he reflected on flirtatious encounters with girls at the shore.
Gonzalez and Tubbs have known each other for years, and each has had his own accomplished career in the industry.
“I wrote this piece for him,” Gonzalez said of a music number he dedicated to Tubbs.
Individually, they appeared, toured, and recorded with a variety of performers, including Carlos Santana, Whitney Houston, Lady Gaga, Michael Walden, Raul Barcelona, and John and Eve McLaughlin, to name a few.
Union City talent
Union City Commissioner of Public Affairs, Lucio “The Cuban Kid” Fernandez, who arranged and attended the event, has deep roots in Hudson County. A lifelong performer, he has appeared on Broadway and at international venues as a performing and visual artist. He also runs several websites to advertise local events. Transforming a historic library into a cultural center was key to revitalizing the city, according to Fernandez.
“A lot of people have come out of Union City. It’s been the birth of an artistic renaissance over the past couple of years,” Fernandez said. “A lot of artists have come out of the woodwork. The county is so rich in culture. I’m so happy to have Edgar here tonight.”
“We have top musicians coming, Broadway people, cabaret people, Hispanic theater – all kinds of stuff, and that’s a win-win situation for me,” he said.
Fernandez pointed out people in the room who not only knew each other but have collaborated or supported each other on projects. Filmmakers, visual artists, fellow musicians, and local photographers came to take photos and shoot videos of the event.
Even when the cultural center brings in artists from Chicago or New York, it also showcases local talent. Fernandez noted that many have relocated from New York City to live and work with other artists here in New Jersey.
“We highlight the local artists, so artists don’t feel shut out,” Fernandez said.
The center plans to host film screenings, fall festivals, art exhibits, and more concerts. For more information, go to unioncitymuseum.org.