The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

The Danville News

July 10, 2014

Danville has special place in Grammy nominee's heart

— DANVILLE — A Grammy-nominated musician has traveled the world, but has a soft spot for Danville.

“Danville has a special place in my heart,” said Elsten Torres, and it dates back to his friendship with Brews N Bytes restaurant owner Jason Perez. “Jason and his family are like my second family … I look at him as a brother, not as a friend. The kids call me ‘Uncle Elsten.’”

Torres and Perez first met when both were going to high school in Manhattan’s Washington Heights in the 1980s.

“Jason was one of the people who encouraged me to become a songwriter. We’ve known each other basically all our lives,” Torres said. “He was one of the first people I knew who was writing songs at an early age.”

They started a pop rock band called Fantasy Encounter, which they later changed into a Latin rock group. Torres and Perez are both of Cuban descent, and their other band members were Haitian.

“It was rock but it had a very Caribbean beat to it,” Torres said.

Torres and Perez later formed a band called Rebelde sin Causa, Spanish for Rebel Without A Cause. They released the album “Ataque,” the Spanish word for Attack, and toured Mexico together. Both played guitar and sang in the group.

“It was kind of like The Beatles set up, so whoever wrote the song sang it,” Torres said.

Some time later, Perez’s first children were born and he decided to leave music to focus on his family. Torres moved to Miami and continued performing Latin rock under the stage name Fulano. His band signed a major deal with the record label RCA and toured the United States and Latin America.

In 2005, Torres was nominated for a Latin Grammy for song of the year for “Todo El Año,” or “All Year Round.” That song, which Torres performed with musician Obie Bermudez, was at the number one spot for five weeks on Billboard’s Latin music chart.

In 2007, he received a Grammy nomination for his album “Individual,” one of the finalists for the “Best Latin Pop Album” award.

“Back then, it was the only independent album to be nominated,” Torres said.

Getting a nomination felt great, Torres said.

“It’s the biggest recognition you can get in the industry. It was quite thrilling for me to be there at the award ceremony, around so many musicians that have influenced me … It was the highlight of my career so far.”

While Torres was disappointed he didn’t win, he has become more familiar with the nomination process recently as a member of Florida’s Grammy board. Being on that end, he’s come to realize how difficult it is just be one of the five finalists in every category.

“Being nominated really is a special thing, people look at you differently,” he said. “It definitely gives you credit.”

His latest album, “Waiting for Clouds,” was released in 2013. It was also his first album recorded entirely in English, his previous ones being a combination of English and Spanish.

Torres will be returning to Danville later this year, with a special performance at Brews N Bytes on Sept. 13. The performance will also include a performance by musician and former Selinsgrove resident Michi Egger, as well as a four-course dinner. Tickets are $60 per person, with a five percent discount if ordered in July. Tickets can be purchased at Brews N Bytes. More information can be had by calling 570-275-8666.

Email comments to rstoneback@thedanvillenews.com.

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