Orquesta Primo

Genre: Classical, Latin | Tejano

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Inception: San Diego, 1996


Salsa band Orquesta Primo was founded by three cousins (primo means "cousin" in Spanish). They frequently play at the Belly Up's Salsa Sundays.

The band's keyboard player Lester Alvarez was detained for 25 days in 2000 when he immigrated from Cuba while playing with a 12-piece salsa band.

"I said 'I am a Cuban refugee....' They put me in a private jail. I don't know where it was. They don't give you that information." He said he wore handcuffs and leg shackles when he was transported. "Then one day they say, 'Get your stuff and walk out....' The government gave me an E-94, which is permission to stay in the U.S.... After five years you can apply to be a citizen." Unlike Cubans, Mexican citizens detained at the Tijuana border are automatically deported.

Alvarez also plays with an Afro-Cuban combo called De Corazon.

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