Music: The Club's Last Session

Before being barred from Cuba, Ry Cooder held a Buena Vista reunion. He emerged with a gem

Ry Cooder's 1997 collaboration with a group of septuagenarian Cuban musicians, Buena Vista Social Club, sold 8 million copies and earned a Grammy for Best Tropical Latin Performance. It also earned Cooder a $100,000 fine from the U.S. government. "I learned that what Buena Vista means to the people who enforce the [Cuba trade and travel] embargo," says Cooder, "is not very much."

The fine was reduced to $25,000, but Cooder was ordered to stay out of Cuba at the precise moment the public was thirsting for more Cuban music. On the last day of the Clinton presidency--after Cooder had lobbied...

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