Merengue is a style of music with origins that date back to the 1850s in the rural northern regions of the Dominican Republic. Originally played on the güira (a metal scraper), Tambora (drum) and guitar or tres, Germans involved with the tobacco trade in the 1880s introduced the two-row diatonic button accordion, replacing the stringed instruments and becoming the music's primary instrument.
The oldest of seven children, Joaquín Díaz was born in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic, in the southeast part of the island. His father was an amateur musician, playing the marimbula (a somewhat large version of the African mbira, or finger piano) and accordion. Forbidden to touch his father's accordion, and inspired by the merengue musicians he heard on the radio, such as Tatico Henriquez and Trio Reinoso, Díaz nonetheless played it for hours while his father was at work. Primarily learning to play on his own, Díaz learned a great deal from his father.
In order to help support his family, Díaz began busking in the streets of San Domingo when he was 9. At 12, he formed his first band and regularly performed at some of the finest hotels in Santo Domingo, where Santo Domingo's elite began to take notice of him. In his teens, he accompanied the Dominican Republic’s Ballets Folkloricos at the PanAmerican Games, which led to a performance for the president of the Dominican Republic at his presidential home. The same year, he won first prize at the highly competitive Merengue Competition of Santo Domingo and appeared each week on a highly-rated variety program on Dominican TV.
In 1990, Díaz moved to Montréal, Canada, where he was awarded by the Canada Council for the Arts to study conjunto music in San Antonio, Texas.
His band consists of Tabaré Filippini (güira, bongo), Hernán Monsalve (bass), Miguel Fenton (congas) and Ramón Ortiz (drums, tambora, timbales).
Visit Joaquin's web site at http://joaquindiaz.com