Ive always wanted to go to Cuba. Ive read books about it, and talked to people who have been there, so when I got an invite on Facebook to Fort Worths Havana-themed club, Embargo, I had to give it a shot. Mind you, I know a place in downtown is going to be about as authentic as the Olive Garden is to Italy but hey, Im not going to the real place any time soon.
That said, Embargo is kind of a cool place to be. Theres the typical exposed beams and faux damaged plaster you would expect. Once I finally got the staffs attention (after about an hour), I settled in with a really nice torta with steak and avocado (La Mexicana, $9). The show was supposed start at 7 (according to the invite), so I planned on eating at Embargo but it was 8:30 or so before they finished sound check; I never expect clocks and musicians to be in sync anyway. No worries, the bread was fresh, the torta was hot, and (once they got going) the service was great.
Post sound-check, the house really cranked up some pretty insipid pop music to an oppressive level. I dont mind loud music that Im digging, but this stuff almost had me out the door before the show started. In a Havana-themed club I would have killed for some Tito Puente or Machito. Luckily it wasnt long before Bobby Dade took the stage.
Bobby gave us some decent covers: Kiss by Prince, High and Dry by Radiohead, One More Night by Maroon Five, Could You Be Loved by Bob Marley, and Use Me by Bill Withers to name a few. Its a fairly eclectic selection, and the man can certainly perform. In fact, he reminded me a lot of Josh Weathers many years ago. He was able to move from soulful to funky to reggae and back with ease, and while I wasnt a fan of the falsetto, Im not really a fan of anyones falsetto. His full voice is excellent, as is his guitar work.
In terms of song selection, this show was a bit too heavy on the pop. Dade has the chops to pull off much meatier stuff. If you can cover Bill Withers and make us feel it, then there is a lot more you can do with some soul behind it, and people will still dance to it. I want to hear more from this guy.
Embargo has been around a while now, and Im surprised I havent found an excuse to go. Good food, good atmosphere, and honestly its a really decent live music space.