Felix Cabrera was born in La Habana, Cuba. FelixHe listened to music on the radio since he was 5 -- not only his native music but also Bill Haley and Nat King Cole. His musical activity at that time was beating conga patterns on benches with school friends...
Then off to the U.S. and Miami.
Felix continued his musical education by listening to the radio. The first R&B record he heard was "Hit the Road, Jack". He started singing a bit with records and did a lot of dancing in after school hops (albeit alone).
Felix then moved from Miami to Union City, New Jersey.
He continued listening to the radio and sang along with Levi Stubbs and Eric Burdon, heard Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone", was caught by the sound and purchased his first harmonica. He saw the legendary Paul Butterfield and Mike Bloomfield live and was hooked. He purchased more harmonicas and played along with recordings. Felix saw BB King, Albert King, Otis Rush, James Cotton and Muddy Waters and then Cannonball Adderley, Charles Lloyd and Chico Hamilton and started liking jazz.
He played with various bands until, in 1974, he and Arthur Neilson formed the "A Train Blues Band", one of the first Chicago styled Blues bands in the New York metropolitan area. The band backed up and recorded with Victoria Spivey and North Carolina bluesman Tarheel Slim besides doing their own gigs. Felix also played duets with Honey Boy Edwards.
Blues Unlimited writer Andre Hobus saw Cabrera perform at Max's Kansas City and wrote about his "fluent harp techniques". In the next few years Felix experimented with the diatonic harmonica in Cuban music and co-led The Internationals, mixing blues and classical overtones. They opened shows for Big Joe Turner and James Cotton.
New York City...
In 1984 he formed Felix and the Havanas, recording "NEXT!!", Felixwhich was released by the Skyranch record label in France. The opening gig for this aggregation was for James Brown at the Lone Star Café in New York City. The band opened for the Godfather of Soul another six times. They also opened many times for Buddy Guy and Jr. Wells, Bobby Blue Bland, Jr. Walker, Wilson Pickett, Dr. John, Lonnie Mack, Marcia Ball and others.Felix Felix was the inaugural act at Manny's Car Wash, the renowned New York Blues Club and he performed on NPR's program Blues Stage, hosted by Ruth Brown.
In the late 90's, Mr. Cabrera joined Jimmy Vivino and the Black Italians. They became a Thursday night fixture at the Manhattan music club, Downtime. Felix released his second CD, "Cubops Cublues" backed up by Vivino and company. Vivino and some of the Black Italians became the Max Weinberg 7 on the Conan O'Brien show on NBC and more recently became the Basic Cable Band on Conan's Turner Broadcasting show where Felix had made at least one guest appearance.
Felix has also been on stage in Mark Naftaliln's Marin County Blues Festival where he performed with Naftalin, Jimmy Vivino and the late great Butterfield Blues Band drummer Billy Davenport. It was in Marin Country that Felix re-discovered the rage Butterfield favorite "East West".
FelixHis next recordings "Pressure Cooker" (2001), "For Green" (2004) and "Felix Cabrera and Jimmy Vivino-Live at The Turning Point" (2009), have gotten 4 stars in Downbeat Magazine, the venerable jazz journal. The San Francisco Chronicle called "For Green" a "modest treasure".
Since 2001, Felix has performed numerous times with Vivino, backed up Marty Balin and fronted The Ed Palermo Big Band in a program of Paul Butterfield/Mike Bloomfield music. Beginning in the Fall of 2008, The Black Italians, who had not performed together in almost 12 years, started playing again and appeared at such venues as the Cutting Room and the Turning Point Café. They followed up in 2012 by recording "Jimmy Vivino and The Black Italians-13 Live" at Levon Helm's Ramble in Woodstock, NY, featuring Felix on the tunes "Animalism" and "Maggie's Farm". They went on to perform on the Conan TV show and headlined the 2014 King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena, Arkansas. Felix and Jimmy then headlined with the Ed Palermo Big Band at New York City's Blues & Barbecue Festival in 2015.
Felix is actively performing on the club circuit supporting his CD's.