Review: Betsayda Machado y La Parranda El Clavo delivers an emotional performance

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Betsayda Machado y La Parranda El Clavo performed Wednesday at the Williams Center for the Arts (Photo by Elle Cox ’21).

Morgan Sturm

Betsayda Machado y La Parranda El Clavo captivated an audience of students, faculty and local Easton residents Wednesday night with a fascinating performance at the Williams Center for the Arts.

The performance opened with powerful vocals from Machado, built on with strong percussion. Members of the band clapped and shouted continuously as the songs went on.

Machado and her band come from El Clavo, a small village in Venezuela on the Caribbean coastline. While her band has been practicing and performing together for many years, the group has only left the region a small number of times to perform.

Upon introducing the performers Wednesday night, Hollis Ashby, Director of Performance Series for the Williams Center for the Arts, mentioned that this visit is only the second visit the group has made to the U.S. According to the program, the group is celebrating their 30-year anniversary with this tour and their new album.

La Parranda El Clavo, which consists of Adrian Gomez, Oscar Ruiz, Nereida Machado, Orheo Gomez, Youse Cordozo, Blanca Castillo and Nelson Gomez, contributed to each song with percussion, vocals and dance. “Parranda,” which means “party” in English, is a style of community music born in joyous celebrations, according to the program for the show.

And the show certainly was a celebration. 

Between the band members’ clothing, the instruments used and the songs being performed in Spanish, audience members truly got a feel for the culture of El Clavo, which I found to be moving.

Throughout the performance, members of the band repeatedly left their microphones on stage to dance at center stage, which made the show very laid back and enjoyable for audience members. On stage, members of the band moved freely and simply had fun with the show. Audience members also couldn’t help but dance along to the fun beats and rhythms that the band created.

Of the twelve songs the band performed, a few stood out especially. One of the band’s first songs “Sirenas” highlighted the group’s vocal abilities and left audience members amazed. A song performed toward the end of the show titled “Sentimiento” held a deeper meaning. The program describes the song as a “dance for the killed ones.” According to the program, the song is about the current crisis in Venezuela.

“It makes me cry when people get killed. Stop guns, play the drums,” Machado said, introducing the song. Audience members reacted positively to these few words Machado communicated in English.

The music in the performance was especially interesting because while the band used very similar percussion instruments, each song sounded surprisingly distinct.

Before the last song of the performance, Machado told the audience via a translator that the band members are also her family. La Parranda y El Clavo includes Machado’s siblings, son and close family friends.

Overall the show created a very excited energy in the Williams Arts Center. Various times in the show, audience members were welcomed onto the stage to dance with members of the band, which audience members seemed shocked but delighted by.