Arts, Culture & Media

Music From the Cuban Land of Tobacco Fields


Thanks to looser visa restrictions under the Obama administration, the entire Wil Campa y Su Gran Union band were able to travel from Cuba and tour the United States. (Photo: Scott Wall)

By Monica Campbell

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For the Geo Quiz, we are looking for a Cuban province that is renowned for its tobacco fields. It makes up the western most part of the island of Cuba. If you venture out there, you will probably want to see the Vinales Valley. It is a stunning landscape with tall, island-like, mountain hills, surrounded by wide open lush green fields and burnt orange soil. Agriculture has stayed pretty traditional out there and to find cigars made out of allegedly, the best tobacco in the world, you will have to visit the province's main city, which has many tobacco factories. The province and its city share the same name.

Pinar del Rio is the answer to the Geo Quiz. It is Cuba's westernmost province and is known for its tobacco plantations. It is from this province that 13 member band "Wil Campa Y Su Gran Union" hails from.

As the Obama administration relaxes restrictions on cultural exchanges with Cuba that tightened under President Bush, more Cuban musicians are performing in the United States and "Wil Campa Y Su Gran Union" is one of those bands. It performed traditional "son y salsa" music style in San Francisco last weekend, which was the first chance for most of the band's young musicians to perform on North American soil. The band members, nearly all twenty and thirty somethings, prefer to talk about their close bonds. They've all played music since they were kids and studied at Havana's prestigious National School of Music. Monica Campbell reports from San Francisco.

Listen to Wil Campa's "Camina Con Swing"