by James Hudson
Falling behind on your trashy summer romance reading? All of that "Spain Vacation" savings went instead to repair the AC compressor? Well, thank Dios it's Friday because The Rialto Theatre has the answer to your prayers in the form of "Nouveau Spanish Flamenco Guitarist" and just all-around sexy, hairy beast Benise.
Roni Benise, aka "Benise," is actually an accomplished guitarist, and he's got a crack crew of musicians backing him up as they lead through Latin and poly-rhythmic world-music interpretations of classics from musicians such as Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Bach, and The Eagles. The clip above is from "The Spanish Guitar," a dramatic globe-trotting adventure staring Benise and produced by the same team that brought you Dancing with the Stars. His promo boasts a live show that reaches "near-Cirque du Soleil" heights, but the Rialto stop is part of his current "unplugged" tour.
That said, still expect Benise's sultry flamenco dancers, sweaty manes of hair, and a damn good excuse to skip Zumba this weekend. If you want to check out this unplugged version of what has been described as the "Latin River Dance," you better act fast—this heaving guitar-slinger sold out last night in Phoenix and Tucson is the last date on his current tour. Tickets are still available, from $27 - $75, depending on how close you want to get to the sexxxy. Doors are at 7:00 p.m., show starts at 8:00 p.m., and more details are available at Rialto Theatre.
Roni Benise (best known as Benise), is an American self-taught and self-described "Nouveau Spanish Flamenco Guitarist". Benise left his family to move 1500 miles away to Los Angeles with a dream of pursuing a rock-type stardom. Then one day, when he was at a crossroads of his life, he had an epiphany after hearing flamenco on the radio. He tossed aside his electric guitar in favor of a classical nylon stringer.
With a lack of viable venues, he and a group of friends took the music literally to the streets as a busker, playing everything from neighborhood theaters to flea markets where he quickly established a following. Together, they came up with an act that married Latin rhythms to a near-Cirque du Soleil atmosphere. He takes world music (specifically, strongly Latin-flavored pieces such as flamenco, salsa, tango, and samba underscored by African tribal rhythms) and fuses it with rock, creating an entirely new sound that appeals widely to mainstream music fans and aficionados of world music.
The mixture caught the attention of the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) and led to his 2006-2007 Nights of Fire! production that has aired on many PBS-affiliated stations, for which he won an Emmy Award. The show is a blend of theater and music drawing from the Spanish flamenco, Argentinean tango, and Brazilian samba traditions.
To date Benise has produced eight CDs (seven studio, one live) and 2 DVDs. He owns an independent record label, Rosanegra Music.