Radio Free Honduras Embarks
on Debut Concert Tour
By Rob Nagy
It has taken nearly a lifetime for Honduran musician Charlie Baran, 67, to reignite his once promising career as a recording artist and performer.
A one-time member of the popular Honduran group “Banda Blanca, Baran relocated to the states 30 years ago. Putting his professional music career on hold, he has worked as a maintenance man at a grade school in Chicago while quietly building a reputation as a guitarist and vocalist in the city’s thriving music scene.
In 2012, Baran met and started playing with fellow Chicago guitarist and vocalist Dan Abu-Absi, 39. A friendship and creative connection was forged leading to the birth of the band “Radio Free Honduras.”
“Charlie Baran was known around town as a great guitar player and an amazing performer,’ recalls Abu-Absi, from his home in Chicago. “That’s how I learned about him. I saw him playing guitar in a band as a sideman and he was just amazing, he blew me away. Then I started keeping track of him and eventually we got together one day and played music. I realized that he had a lifetime work of songs of his own mostly just swimming around in his head. I realized there were great songs here. I was amazed at that point as well. I thought, ‘Wow, what is going on here?’”
Merging elements of Latin, rock and folk music, Radio Free Honduras defines what they do as “Latin Americana.”
“One of the things we have in common is classic rock radio,” says Abu-Absi. “We both grew up listening to that. There is a language barrier. He doesn’t speak very good English and I don’t speak Spanish. Neither of us are trained musicians and we don’t read music. We don’t need to discuss things, he starts playing and then he plays something else and the cycle goes on. Just to be a part of this is truly amazing. Language doesn’t really have to come into play that much to make that happen. You get the right groups of musicians together and everybody knows what they are doing.”
Relying on a robust pool of talented backing musicians, Baran and Abu-Absi’s Philly area appearance next month will also include Javier Saume drums and percussion and Alex Austin (bass).
“Charlie and I are the core members of the band,” says Abu-Absi. “We play the gigs we want and we always find a band of great musicians. Charlie as a performer is very dynamic and I think that’s the main thing that is different about our live show. He really, perhaps to a fault, takes his cue from the audience. It doesn’t have to be a large audience but if people are into it, he will be into it, and he will put on a show for them. Charlie really feeds on that energy.”
“It would be really cool to find a way to bridge some musical cultural gaps that are clearly missing right now,” adds Abu-Absi. “We try to mix things up enough to show our different brands of influences. We do some things in English and Charlie’s things in Spanish We want this to be a part of the musical message. It is people coming together, people from different cultures and different places. I would love to somehow be part of what can help bring people together and sort of unite the cultures in any small way that we can.”
With one self-titled album released in 2014 under their belt, “Radio Free Honduras” has a pair of impending album releases in the pipeline.
“We are in the midst of two projects right now,” says Abu-Absi. “We’re working on a studio album and we have about half of it down and pretty much done. We plan to finish the album in the fall and hopefully get it out a year from now. We just did a live recording with a full current ensemble at a studio here in Chicago. We also took some film. It was really cool. I’m not sure if it’s going to be released on CD or what. We’re definitely going to make some videos out of it. That’s going to be the next thing to come out.”
“We recorded it in May in just one evening at a place called Treehouse Studios in Chicago,” adds Abu-Absi. “Interesting place; I really liked the vibe. We did two takes of each song and went right to the next. We had a small live audience in the studio just for energy, to help create a fun little vibe. It was kind of a party, recording session and videotaping. It turned out pretty cool. We are working on the post-production now and hopefully have something ready to go in about a month or so.”
“Live at Treehouse Records” will be released later this summer. Their untitled studio album is slated for a spring 2018 release.
After performing in Chicago and pockets of the Midwest, “Radio Free Honduras” is about to embark on their first real concert tour which will bring them to the East Coast in early July.
“We are, in a way, just getting out of the starting gate career wise,” says Abu-Absi. “We are increasing our reach and refocusing our efforts.
We’ve done shows around the Midwest and done a few dates here and there, but this is our first one where we’re actually going out on the road. Charlie just retired from his job and we are making a push to really allow him to focus on music.”
“Going on the road is a whole different ball of wax,” adds Abu-Absi. “It’s going to take some transition from us for sure, but I’m looking forward to it. I want to get established in as many key areas as we can.”
“My personal goal for Charlie is to get him the recognition that I feel he deserves,” says Abu-Absi. “I think people want to hear his stuff and I think if we can figure out a way to record it and make it something pretty different. It’s not your average run of the mill sound. There aren’t a whole lot of groups that sound like us. I think if we can figure out a way to present this music to people that they will want to hear it. I want him to feel that recognition. I think if his circumstances had been different, he could have been a superstar, and I want him to feel a little bit of that.”
Radio Free Honduras will perform at the Kennett Flash, 102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, PA 19348, on Saturday July 8, 2017 at 8:00 P.M. For tickets and information, visit www.kennettflash.org.
To stay up to date with Radio Free Honduras visit www.radiofreehonduras.com