Five Firsts: Taina Asili

Taina Asili

NAME: Taina Asili
BAND AFFILIATION: Taina Asili y la Banda Rebelde, Asili & Vaccaro

1. THE FIRST ALBUM I EVER BOUGHT WAS … Menudo, a Puerto Rican boy band. But I am sure my parents bought the album for me. The first record I ever went to the store to purchase on my own was a 45 record by Tears for Fears. It in no way reflects on my musical interests now, but it does say something about what a child of the ’80s I was.

2. THE FIRST CONCERT THAT I EVER SAW WAS … Cyndi Lauper when I was five years old. I’ll never forget how wild she was on the stage. Again, another reflection of my oh so ’80s childhood, but I still think Ms. Cyndi is fabulous.

3. THE FIRST MUSICAL INSTRUMENT I EVER OWNED OR PLAYED WAS … a violin when I was in second grade. I loved the violin, and played it until I was in ninth grade. I played European classical music, but my mother always wanted me to learn how to play charanga, a Latin style of playing often performed by a violin or flute within a song. It sounds like a bird dancing above the song. I never quite advanced to playing charanga, but playing violin really helped me understand music theory.

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4. THE FIRST SONG THAT I EVER PERFORMED IN PUBLIC WAS … well, I know I sang in school musicals as early as second grade. But the first significant performance I had singing by myself was when I was 10 years old at a community talent show, where I sang “The Greatest Love of All” by Whitney Houston. I think I won second or third place, but I might be making that up in my memory. I know my family was definitely proud.

5. THE FIRST BAND I WAS EVER IN WAS … Antiproduct, a punk band I joined when I was 16 years old. I shared lead vocals with the guitarist. This band definitely shaped who I would become in so many ways. We performed political songs about anti-colonialism, feminism, animal rights and environmentalism. I performed with Antiproduct for eight years, and the band eventually became really popular within the punk scene. We put out four albums that were distributed around the world, and toured the nation many times. But as I became older, I felt musically constricted by punk and wanted to explore other music interests. But that feeling of rebellion will always be a part of me. Friends say you can still see Antiproduct posters hanging on the walls of squats in Europe. And every once in a while someone passes by me with an Antiproduct patch stitched to their jacket – it makes me smile.

Vocalist Taina Asili teams up with guitarist Gaetano Vaccaro to perform flamenco music and Latin American folk classics in concert at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs at on Friday night. Canadian singer-songwriter Layah Jane opens the show at 8pm. Tix are $15 in advance; $17 at the door.

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