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Big Willie's Burlesque was forged in the fires of Los Angeles' premier burlesque club Forty Deuce, where Willie and dancer extraordinaire Carolina Cerisola performed together for close to 6 years. They have developed quite an act that is fun and exciting, engaging to the audience and classic yet modern with a Latin flair. Willie plays the drums and his quartet is completed with Ravi Knypstra on bass, Mike Boito on Keyboards and Derrick Davis on Saxophone.
Willie is probably best know for his bands The Solsonics and their critically acclaimed CD 'Jazz in the Present Tense' or for his partnership in the internationally known ska band Jump With Joey. He's an in demand session player in Hollywood film land and his love for Cuban music has led him to develop his own salsa/timba group Sono-Lux. Willie has played with acts as diverse as John Mayall to the rapper Guru and Joe Strummer to Ernest Ranglin. His ability to switch from Latin to reggae to straight ahead swing is inimitable.
Carolina Cerisola is a native of Buenos Aires, Argentina where she studied classical dance and gymnastics as a youth. Since moving to Hollywood she has become a very in demand dancer for music videos, film and live performance. Most recently she has worked live with Daniel Lenau and Sting, also making a music video for him. She also is a Salsa Congress champion salsa dancer, sharing with Willie her love for Cuban salsa. She has also been featured three times on the Jimmy Kimmel Live television show.
The rest of the band has almost too many credits to mention. Willie, Mike and Derrick were in The Solsonics together and Derrick and Willie toured with Guru and Jazzmatazz together. The boys have played with acts like Beck, The Brand New Heavies, The Avila Brothers, Royal Crown Revue and El Vez to name a few. Collectively they have played together for 15 years and have a tightness that you can only get from working together for that long.
To sum it up Big Willie's Burlesque is old school burlesque with a cutting edge, Latin, new school vibe. The show is exciting and fun and sure to leave you smiling. The music is great and the dancing is even better!
Los Angeles Times
Willie McNeil, the drummer whose expressions could be a comedy act
of their own. "I've always mugged a lot," says McNeil, 40. "I'm a showoff, and it adds a comical element
to the show. This is a perfect gig for a ham like me. Carolina is great. She's very musical. I can play
a riff once, and the next time I play it, she catches it. No matter what the other girls do on stage, she's
always on top." McNeil's mouth gapes when Cerisola gets close. She rips off her dress in one smooth swoop,
evealing a pair of sparkly panties that match her bra. Men whistle and scream. Cerisola moves in front of
McNeil's drum kit with her back to the audience. He pounds salsa on his drum, and her feet go off.