La Familia performs at the Queen’s on New Year’s Eve. (Photo courtesy Robert Ell/Roshine Photography)

Nanaimo Latin dance band La Familia rings in the new year at the Queen’s

Group is coming off its most successful year and has ambitious goals for 2019

Nanaimo Latin dance band La Familia is wrapping up its most successful year yet with a New Year’s Eve show at the Queen’s.

Guitarist and lead vocalist Antonio Velez said the group started as a “hobby band,” with most of the 10 members working day jobs. Despite those responsibilities, Velez said the band is finishing up its busiest year.

“2018 has been a year that showed us that we can still be a hobby band with a more formal commitment to play more seriously,” he said.

On Dec. 31, La Familia – Velez, guitarist and percussionist Bill Nuñez Smith, percussionist Rodrigo Moreno-Villemar, accordionist Len Imbery, keyboardist Jill Mont, bassist Neil Evans, percussionist Alicia Silken-Murray, trumpeter David Herman, trombonist and percussionist Darren Nillson and saxophonist Brianne de Verteuill – will be serenading revelers with South American sounds as they welcome the new year. The event starts at 7 p.m. and includes a balloon drop and free champagne.

Velez said it’s the group’s first time performing at the Queen’s on New Year’s Eve. He said the band’s “cheerful, celebratory” music suits the occasion.

“We are really excited about it because as you can imagine that’s a big gig for most bands in Nanaimo, so having the opportunity to play there is fantastic,” he said.

The band will be playing a variety of Latin American grooves including salsa, merengue, rumba and their forte, cumbia. Velez said they have some special compositions ready for the evening as well.

“We are always enhancing our repertoire so we’re going to be playing new songs that night that we’ve been preparing for a while,” he said.

Velez said his goal for 2019 is to increase the number of shows La Familia plays and maybe tour the Gulf Islands.

While his plans are ambitious, Velez said it’s important that “La Familia remain La Familia.”

“My own vision is to let things happen without compromising the philosophy of the band…” he said. “We are all friends and it’s good chemistry so we don’t want to compromise that just in order to make more money or to commit to things that really are going to put some pressure on some of us.”

WHAT’S ON … New Year’s Eve at the Queen’s featuring La Familia takes place on Dec. 31 starting at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25, available at the venue. 19-plus event.



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