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La Liga de Las Americas

Another week in the spotlight for La Familia Ruiz and La Revancha
By Alan Abrams
La Prensa Senior Correspondent


What a week it has been for La Revancha, the hot Latin Folk/Fusion band that can easily be called U2 with a spicy side of salsa.*


The Bowling Green-based band, featuring talented songwriter/vocalist Leonardo Ruiz, kicked off a spectacular week with a show-stopping performance at the Diamante Awards at Lourdes College Fri. Sept. 9. Their appearance, marking the third year in a row the band has performed at the prestigious awards dinner, also featured performances by the legendary Jesse Ponce** and a flamenco show by Liliana Ruiz, Leo’s talented sister.***

Leo Ruiz of La Revancha

The next day saw the group at the Black Swamp Arts Festival in Bowling Green, where they appeared on the Huntington Bank stage on Saturday afternoon with a another powerful flamenco performance by Liliana Ruiz. This marked the second year in a row that the group has appeared at what has become one of the biggest arts fests in the nation.


But La Revancha wasn’t content to bask in their success.  The group played a date at a popular club in Columbus near the Ohio State campus that night.


Midweek saw the group celebrate Mexican Independence Day on Thursday with a stellar performance at El Zarape in Bowling Green. The group played to a full house at the popular Mexican restaurant. Among those who came out to see and hear the group was talented sculptor and artist Emanuel Enríquez.


Then the group was off to play a Saturday evening club date at the Café Del Mar in New York's West Village. This was the group's eleventh booking in New York City. The Cafe Del Mar is located on MacDougal Street at the corner of Bleecker, a spot considered to be ‘holy turf’ during what musician and author Dave Van Ronk has termed “The Great Folk Scare of the 60s.” For those who can still remember, it was there that Bob Dylan first saw God.


During a break after a set that began with a stunning presentation of the haunting Tu Voz (Your Voice), Ruiz took a few moments to talk about the origin of the group. “We started the group in Jan. 2003 in Los Angeles,” recalled Ruiz, “and that June we brought out an EP titled Locura (Insanity). The CD, with six songs on it, was released in México City and immediately started receiving in airplay in México City, Los Angeles, and New York.”

La Revancha released their second CD, El Zarape, in March, 2004. It is named after the BG restaurant which gave the group its start on their road to fame with their first show in Feb. 2003. They have played at the popular restaurant many times since (they played there every week at one point) and now perform at El Zarape at least once every month.


“I met the trumpet player and the percussionist all on the same day,” says Ruiz. I went to El Zarape to hear the mariachi band that was playing there. I thought maybe I could play with them, but as it turned out they were from Indianapolis.”

The group is comprised of Leonardo Ruiz on vocals and rhythm guitar,  Josh Smith on  bass guitar, Mike Dooley and Blane Smead on  electric guitar, Joe Zimmet on trumpet, Kathleen Jara on violin, and Jason Parritt on drums.

They’ve played at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland for Latino Heritage Day in Aug. 2004 and at the Bronco Bash at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. They’ve appeared at LatinoFest and played FifthThird Field among local venues.

Liliana Ruiz performing at the Diamante Awards.


They also appeared for events hosted by La Prensa, including a postgame bash after the Latino Scholarship Day with the Toledo Mud Hens, co-sponsored by the Spanish American Organization and La Prensa, and El Grito Ceremonies at SS. Peter and Paul Parish Hall.


La Revancha has played four shows in Central Park at the Tavern on the Green stage for the New York Marathon. Last year, they filmed their video Esta Amor at the site. The group has also appeared on local and national television.


The group’s hectic schedule continues through the fall. On Fri. Sept. 30, they play Seattle’s Coffee House in Wooster, Ohio as part of the WoosterFest weekend. Then, on Sun. Oct. 2, the group performs at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester NY for Family Day.


They are back in BG on Fri. Oct. 15 for BGSU’s Latinopalooza Fest, sponsored by the Latino Student Union. Later that evening they perform at Howard’s Club H.


On Sat. Oct. 29, La Revancha performs at the Sofia Quintero Art and Cultural Center in Toledo for Día de Los Muertos festivities.


The group returns to New York again for the New York Marathon and a performance at Columbus Circle on Sun. Nov. 6, after having just performed there this past weekend.

La Revancha’s Kathleen Jara on violin.

“NYC was great!”  Ruiz told La Prensa Monday morning on his return to BG. “We packed the Cafe Del Mar... a semi outdoor concert as the place has windows wide open to the NYC streets, and a set up like a concert where we performed Saturday night. 


“They want us back, and we are talking about doing two shows in a row on Nov. 4 and 5, and then playing Central Park on the morning of Nov. 6 for the ING NYC Marathon. La Revancha is one of the official bands for the 2006 NYC Marathon.


“The ING New York City Marathon is one of the world’s great road races, drawing more than 85,000 participants.   During that day, families, runners and the community of NYC gather together as a whole. More than 200,000 people get to be involved across the City,” says Ruiz.


“We appeal to a lot of different crowds, the school crowd, the bar crowd, restaurants,” continued Ruiz, adding that some critics have termed their sound “Mexican jazz.”


That should come as no surprise—Ruiz was born in México City and came to Los Angeles as a teenager “to look for work.”


 “I was a student at UCLA, and then made the decision to go to Bowling Green State University. I had the opportunity to attend the University of Michigan or the University of Toledo, but I’m glad I chose BGSU and Bowling Green. The people are wonderful and we have become a community favorite here,” says Ruiz.

La Revancha’s Joe Zimmet on trumpet

* According to its Web site—www.larevancha.comLa Revancha is “a blend of rhythms created by an acoustic guitar, base, and drums, fussed with colored melodies from a violin, a trumpet and an electric guitar. The result is a Latin folk/fusion mix” and its “main purpose is to create an experience of inner spiritual peace and freedom.” [See Miscellaneous Photos


** La Prensa did a review of Jesse Ponce’s CD in is July 20, 2005 issue. See the review on line at jesse ponce.htm


*** Liliana Ruiz was born in México City and began to study ballet when she was six. She has performed with Julio Iglesias in México City and at the Auditorio Nacional with Placido Domingo performing the opera Carmen. She moved to the U.S. in 2000 and has performed in New York on Broadway and in Central Park. She performed in Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center, home of the Philadelphia Orchestra, with two-time Grammy Award-winning pianist Peter Nero and the Philly POPs. On line, see www.latinfiestainc.com/bio_ruiz_davis_l.html.





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