The three-time Grammy nominated Cuban music group Tiempo Libre is coming to Bozeman to perform and throw a Cuban musical party on Thursday, May 5 at 7:30 p.m. at the Ellen Theatre (17 West Main Street, Bozeman, Montana 59715). Tickets are $20 and are available by visiting theellentheatre.com or calling 406-585-5885.

The Cuban government forbade its citizens to listen to American radio when the members of Tiempo Libre were growing up in Cuba. It still does.

But, like teenagers everywhere, that which was forbidden was what the members of Tiempo Libre most desired. The Cuban teenagers fashioned antennas out of salvaged aluminum foil and clothes hangers and climbed up on their rooftops secretly at night to tune into the music which pulsated from Miami airwaves. This music of the night fueled their dreams of living in America and ultimately gave them the strength to leave it all behind – families, friends, a country, a life – to pursue those dreams.

My Secret Radio is an Afro-Cuban love letter to the music heard on American radio stations. Through the album, the seven musicians express the thrill they received from their secret rooftop radio sessions as well as the difficulties they faced having to start from scratch in America, a culture so foreign and different from Cuba.

Today, ten years after forming the first all-Cuban timba group in the U.S., having earned three Grammy nominations, and having performed on NPR, at The Hollywood Bowl, at Jazz at Lincoln Center, as well as TV’s The Tonight Show and Dancing with the Stars, Tiempo Libre’s musicians are truly living the American dream. They have become known around the world for their joyous dance-inducing concerts of timba music – a high-energy combination of Latin jazz and traditional Cuban “son.” There hasn’t been a concert yet where people haven’t gotten out of their seats to dance in the aisles. The band was thrilled to see this held true at a concert in Malaysia, when they spotted burka clad women dancing to their infectious music at the back of the theatre.

For a preview of their performance please see their appearance on Dancing with the Stars:

Just as jazz has travelled from New Orleans to Chicago, New York and around the world, Tiempo Libre’s members see Cuban timba music as a living, breathing art form that continues to evolve over time. Tiempo Libre’s sound incorporate funk, hip-hop, rap, jazz, ska and pop. The group often compares its timba music to a tomato. If you plant a tomato in Havana soil, it will taste differently than if you plant it in Miami soil or Los Angeles soil, but it will still be a tomato. Tiempo Libre’s members are pure timberos. They listen to timba, they play it, they dance it, they live it.

50 years since the Bay of Pigs and ten years since their formation as the first all-Cuban timba group in the U.S., there is not a moment Tiempo Libre’s members take for granted. Says the group’s pianist and musical director Jorge Gómez, “Every record we make, every concert we play seems like a gift. Each time we are about to walk on stage, I get a tingling sensation, that thrill that starts at the base of the spine and fills me with euphoria. It’s that same thrill I felt up on that roof under the twinkling Havana stars, listening to my secret radio.”

You many see and hear more at tiempolibremusic.com