The call has to be a quick one. Steven Falcon, a vocalist and percussionist for the acclaimed D.C.-based Sin Miedo Band, is on his usual tight schedule and he’s running late for an engagement.
“I just realized I’ve been scheduled for my son’s scout meeting,” says Falls Church resident Falcon. “And I’ll be leading the meeting.”
Some musicians live the high life, traveling around the country in a luxury tour bus or cashing in on private, beach-side performances in Martha’s Vineyard. Others sacrifice segments of their already-crowded schedules to squeeze in time in the studio before a late show in a cramped corner of Clarendon Ballroom. Then, like Falcon, they wake up the next day after four hours of sleep to coach community basketball and scramble to scout meetings.
It is not a life of luxury. It is a labor of love. But Falcon, whose rhythmic tendencies emerged at age 3 with the clatter of clanking cups, and his nine fellow musicians of Sin Miedo are willing to carve out the time to pursue a passion that is a second profession for some of them.
“It’s a huge sacrifice because none of us truly sit there on payroll and when I go to the studio at night it takes time away from my kids,” says Falcon who also works as an engineer for Verizon’s federal network systems. “But at the end of the day, it’s our dream and it’s one that will never leave me personally.”
The group formed more than eight years ago as a quintet. Under the direction of French pianist Didier Prossaird, Sin Miedo flourished, doubling its number as others joined up, as Falcon did five years back. Now a 10-piece, the ensemble has won notoriety for its contagious Afro-Cuban rhythms and lively performances that earned the group the title of D.C.’s best salsa band for 2006 and 2007.
They’ve worked with heralded tropical musicians Tito Allen and Frankie Vasquez, and collaborated with Septime Walker, the artistic director for the Washington Ballet. Several members of Sin Miedo even traveled to Cuba to support that group.
Falcon had hoped that Prossaird, whom he credits as the main musical mind of the outfit, would be available for the interview. Alas, not enough time in the day. Prossaird was busy teaching a music course to university students.
Prossaird is a full-time musician, though some members of the group, like Falcon, keep busy with non-musical jobs. Though they gig frequently, the payout from those shows – about $110 per person – doesn’t exactly pay the bills.
Quite clearly, it’s the music, not the money, that motivates the members of Sin Miedo, which also includes Alfredo Mojica, Gary Sosias, Giancarlo Rodriguez, Rene Ibanez, Steve Sachse, Antonio Orta, Scott Geaheart and Ben Patterson.
Currently Sin Miedo causes a weekly stir with their performances at Arlington’s Salsa Room. They are also working on their third CD, comprised of all original work, hence the somewhat rushed rendezvous at the studio.
“It’s the most involved process we’ve been a part of,” Falcon says. “And we’ve all got lives, we’ve all got families, but we still have that dream of making it happen.”
However, their busy schedule won’t stop them from going the extra mile for a cause … particularly if there’s music involved. For the recent presidential election, the band recorded a song for the Obama campaign, “Se Gana con Obama.” In addition to helping their man into office, they recently learned they would be playing one of the District’s inaugural balls.
Falcon is excited about the upcoming extravaganza, but no more so than any other night he gets to indulge his love for music. He acknowledges that his first love is his family, but music rates right up there.
“My family makes me the happiest, but whenever the downbeat’s been counted and the lights go up,” Falcon pauses. “Man, I love that.”
It’s true, some musicians live the high life. And the members of Sin Miedo – with their cramped stages, snuck-in studio time and late night lounge acts just to sacrifice every second they can to their passion – would place themselves squarely in that category.
• For more information, visit www.sinmiedo.us. For a list of upcoming shows, as well as sample songs, visit www.myspace.com/sinmiedoband.