Bob Neuwirth Havana Midnight (Motor Diesel)

Havana Midnight (Motor Diesel)

Bob Neuwirth

Havana Midnight (Motor Diesel)

In the summer of 1998, Bob Neuwirth took a trip to Cuba. Neuwirth, who in his 40 years as an artist has worked with the likes of Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, Kris Kristofferson, and T-Bone Burnett among others, visited the island country to collaborate with Jose Maria Vitier. A composer and pianist whose work includes the score for the critically acclaimed film Strawberries & Chocolate, Vitier teamed up with Neuwirth to compose the nine songs that make up Havana Midnight, a truly unique work that melds the American folk tradition with the playing of classically trained Cuban musicians. It's intriguing that Havana Midnight is not a political statement, and yet is haunted with the trails and tribulations of humankind, the ebb and flow of the things that connect us all. The collection's centerpiece, "Don Quixote," is a delightfully curious, imaginary meeting at a bar between Neuwirth, Don Simpson, and the famous Spaniard offset by eerie guitar and violin. The ethereal female vocals of Gema 4 and the lithe piano work of Vitier add a distinctive feel to the ode of longing and remorse, "The First Time," while the title track evokes a late-night stroll through the city's streets. With his limited range, Neuwirth's vocals may be an acquired taste for some, but his undiluted emotions and the deceptively intricate musical backdrops Vitier has created are captivating, making Havana Midnight an understated triumph.


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Daniel Johnston
Chicago 2017 (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Feb. 21, 2020

Texas Platters
Kinky Friedman
Resurrection (Record Review)

Rick Weaver, Jan. 3, 2020

More by Jim Caligiuri
Carrie Elkin’s Life-and-Death Folk
Carrie Elkin’s Life-and-Death Folk
Her father's death and daughter's birth upped the stakes of the singer's finest work

April 14, 2017

SXSW Music Live: Richard Barone Presents Greenwich Village in the Sixties
SXSW Music Live: Richard Barone Presents Greenwich Village in the Sixties
Soft Boys, Youngbloods, Moby Grape, Brian Jones’ grandson, etc.

March 18, 2017

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle