Happy birthday to Hugo Blanco, one of the greats of Venezuelan music and the South American harp. The author of "Moliendo Café", written in 1958 and now a "world music" standard, Blanco was born in Caracas and learned to play the cuatro at 15.
He fused Venezuelan folk music such as gaita and joropo with influences from Cuba and beyond. In the '60s he also introduced ska to Venezuela with his group Las Cuatro Monedas. Other notable songs of his include "La Vecina", which was featured in the Miami Vice TV show, and "La Rosa Blanca", which I first heard via a DJ-oriented 12" on the Sofrito label and which mesmerized me and my dance party patrons. He was also known for his collaborations with Grammy-winning composer Simón Díaz.