Steve Roitstein on Naming Palo!: "There Was a Cuban Who Couldn't Understand My Name"
PALO! may only have one album to their name (and a second one underway), but their ritmo y sazón has made a large impact in Miami's local music scene for the past decade.
The guys and lady of the Afro-Cuban funk band was the brainchild of Steve Roitstein, who after a successful music career decided he wanted to do something for himself.
So he gathered other talented musicians, among those sax player Ed Calle, y ¡pa!: you've got PALO!
Crossfade spoke with the front man and founder himself just in time for PALO!'s May 17 show at PAX about naming the band and a big ten year anniversary bash.
Crossfade: You've performed with Tito Puente, Julio Iglesias, and even won a Latin Grammy in 2001. It seems that you've had a pretty successful career in music. What made you want to start your own band?
Steve Roitstein: I have a lot of years doing great work that I was proud of with amazing artists Celia Cruz, Willy Chirino, and all those kind of people, and had a long run doing creative work for U.S. Hispanic advertising where I would provide a jingle or musical score to an ad campaign. Around 2000, I started to realize I needed to do something that was mine, not for someone else, with me and my collaborators. That's why we started PALO!
What was the turning point in your career?
A lot of lucky breaks. A lot of hard work. The first lucky break was probably getting recommended to Willy Chirino when I first started out arraigning and producing in the studio. That became my school for Cuban music and I learned a lot about Cuban and Latin music with him. Because he was a pretty high profile guy at the time, a lot of people heard my work and that was probably the biggest break to happen to me in developing as a song writer and producer.