Cuba's Buena Vista Social Club to miss U.S. show

Thu Jun 24, 2010 1:26pm EDT
 
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HAVANA (Reuters) - The first of three U.S. concerts scheduled by Cuban band Buena Vista Social Club has been canceled because of a delay in getting U.S. visas, their U.S. lawyer said on Thursday.

The band made famous in a 1999 documentary by German director Wim Wenders was supposed to make their first U.S. appearance since 2003 on Thursday night in Brooklyn's Prospect Park, but did not get their visas in time to arrange a flight, San Francisco-based attorney Bill Martinez said.

The problem was "a timing issue," he said, not difficulties with U.S. authorities.

Martinez said they are expected to play as scheduled on Saturday in Chicago and on Sunday at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.

Visa applications for Cuban entertainers were routinely denied under former U.S. President George W. Bush, but generally have been approved under President Barack Obama, who has slightly improved relations with the communist-led island.

Band members told Reuters they were late in applying for visas because they had returned only recently from a European tour.

The band of aging Cuban musical legends had been mostly forgotten until they recorded a self-titled Grammy Award-winning album, "Buena Vista Social Club," in 1996, produced by U.S. musician Ry Cooder.

Wenders' documentary, also titled "Buena Vista Social Club," was nominated for an Academy Award and catapulted the band to international stardom.

After their U.S. shows, they will go to Europe to play 25 concerts.

(Reporting by Jeff Franks; editing by Mohammad Zargham)