The Duke of Bachata Music Performs at LCC

Photo: Courtesy Benjamin de Menil

Thirteen-year-old Joan Soriano told his father while planting yucca in the Dominican countryside: “Dad, this is going to make you angry, but this life isn’t for me. I want to be a musician, and I’m going to Santo Domingo.”

Soriano left his father’s fields immediately and headed for the city to pursue a music career. Traveling alone, he spent four days washing cars before landing a spot as the lead singer in a local band in Villa Mella, a suburb of the city. He says, “I’ve lived from music ever since.”

Growing up, Soriano’s mother would play Radio Guarachita, the only station that didn’t censor bachata music, a traditional blend of African, European, Caribbean and Latin American music. He recalls having been fascinated with the genre from a young age.

“I was mesmerized by the sound of the guitar,” he says. “When a band would play in the area, I used to sneak out and look in through a window or crack in the wall. . . Where I grew up, in Monte Plata, bachata is part of the air we breathe. I don’t know what exactly made me a musician though—it was my calling. God put it into my heart.”

Fast forward more than two decades, and The Duke of Bachata, as he’s known, has performed throughout North America and Europe and released music internationally. Soriano’s fall itinerary includes Oahu and Maui. The Leeward Community College Theatre will be hosting “The Duke” Saturday, Oct. 8.

Joe Patti, manager of the LCC Theatre, found Soriano’s music through Adam Taub’s film, El Duque de La Bachata. Said Patti, “We were really just impressed by him through the documentary—his music, his energy, his charisma; we knew there is a good bachata community here, so we thought [Soriano’s performance] would serve the community well.”

Patti says, “We’re putting our orchestra pit up to audience level and clearing it out for room to dance.” Don’t get too comfortable in your seats; come ready to shake your hips.

Soriano plays Saturday, Oct. 8 at 8 p.m., at the Leeward Community College Theatre, 96-045 Ala Ike, Pearl City. Tickets are $25 general admission, $21 for students, seniors and military and $10 for children 12 and under. All tickets cost $5 more at the door. For more information, call 944-2697 or visit