Sometime in the year 2000 in my former life as a suburbanite far removed from Chicago’s cultural scene I walked into the former Borders bookstore in Oak Park and as I was purchasing a book I noticed in the checkout counter a Putamayo CD on display titled “Latinas”. I bought it and it instantly became my favorite. In this CD the performers were none that I recognized, but through the years of owning the CD one of them became the voice of who I am now. It turns out that that performer was none other than Toto la Momposina a woman that will become a personal tradition in my life as much as La Lupe, Celia Cruz, Graciela and others. Toto represented an area of Colombia that with the passage of time will become my second Patria. Tonight 17 years after that encounter in Borders I was face to face with the Caribbean Diva. As I heard her sing “Yo me llamo cumbia” in her unmistaken voice that at her age feels like a good wine, I was overcome by an emotion that only comes from loving Colombia as my own country.
Her performance was impeccable and she not only embodied her very regional musical genre she also personified the whole Caribbean in several of her titles. Her band was extremely polished and they had the command of a Cuban style that evoked a bygone era. I particularly enjoyed her porro numbers like “Los sabores del Porro” which evokes the memories of listening to Porro on the porch with my late father in law.
You can further enjoy the experience by viewing the images: https://charliebillupsphotographer.pixieset.com/totolamomposinamilleniumparkjaypritzkerpavillion/
You can also see her at the 2017 Colombian Fest in Chicago for more info click here: http://colombianfestchicago.com/
Dancer Felicita Hernandez at AfricaCaribe June 2017 Bombazo at the Casita de Don Pedro in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood.
I took this image last weekend at a Bombazo which is a gathering of people that dance the ancient Bomba dances from Puerto Rico. During the summer months in Chicago, one of the places that Bombazos take place at is at the Casita de Don Pedro on Division Street in Humboldt Park. I was using a 35mm lens on a Nikon D7000, so I did not have the luxury of very wide angles to capture crowds and overall vistas so I was looking at individuals on a short range. So I photograph without being able to imagine the final result.
On this day I was using a 35mm lens on a Nikon D7000, so I did not have the luxury of very wide angles to capture crowds and overall vistas that I so much like, so I was looking at individuals on a short range. So I photographed without being able to imagine the final result. When I put this image on the computer it became evident that besides the drums the symbol of Bomba dancing are the skirts.
On this day I was using a 35mm lens on a Nikon D7000, so I did not have the luxury of very wide angles to capture crowds and overall vistas so I was looking at individuals on a short range. So I photograph without being able to imagine the final result. When I put this image on the computer it became evident that besides the drums the symbol of Bomba dancing are the skirts, your skill level in many ways are determined by how you handle the skirt.
Felicitas or Fela the individual on the image, handles the skirt gracefully and with skill which shows many years of learning and dedication, in fact I think the skirt becomes her and she express what she feels with the skirt. The skirt and her are one.
We decided on a quick getaway with the kids so after all the rain anything to do with rivers and Starved Rock was out the question. So we took a sleepy drive to Michigan and our first stop was South Haven after driving through Saint Joseph.
South Haven lighthouse as seen from the pier on late afternoon.
The beach is absolutely spectacular and pristine as well as the town. What makes South Haven special to me is the unique pier along the river and the lake with it’s unique lighthouse. Great getaway with many bed and breakfast.
Please see more at https://www.flickr.com/photos/titoytitabillups/albums/72157684354619475
This is the first article of 2017. My family and I decided to take a last minute trip to the Galena, IL /Dubuque, Iowa area to take advantage of the long weekend for the kids. As I was thinking of places to go in the Dubuque vicinity I remembered that my friend Nico had told me that he had visited and island town near Dubuque called Sabula. To Sabula we went. It’s a very sleepy place. I like it, not much to do on a mid-January day. However I call it the Mompox of the north. There are a lot sweeping views of the Missisipi River. Here I bring them to you.
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This week my life was engulfed in a lot of sadness. Sadness that I can not describe here. Sadness that is like death in the family for not being able to see someone that you love for so many years and then just seeing them for a minute and from a distance. I have tried to put my mind around it and all that I can do is think about my children now Sarah and Pachi, how they bring me joy as I see them grow and participate in the glow of the Puertorican and Colombian cultures.