CHICAGO — A 25-piece salsa band made up entirely of veterans descended on the Jesse Brown VA Center this afternoon, the Latin beats drawing a crowd outside the room where group therapy normally gathers.
The group hails from Puerto Rico and initially started as just five guys finding a little joy in picking up their instruments again after all these years. It wasn't long before they discovered just how much the music lifted not only their spirits, but also those they played for.
"All these people just got up and started dancing... moving their bodies, on their feet, in their wheelchairs... just feeling the beat," band member Hector Perez said.
It's the first time 'Son Veteranos' has played in Chicago, but they're already getting requests to play for veterans all over the country.
"I ran into this band and I was like, 'people need to know about this,'" Jesse Brown VA therapist Isabel Mulcahy said. "Here they are jamming to release anger and emotions through music and it turns into this beautiful 25 piece group!"
The group will be playing at various spots around Chicago through the week, and then jetting off to play at the Kennedy Center in D.C. for the Fourth of July.
If you want to check them out, there's still time at: Night Out in the Parks on Friday, June 29, at 4 p.m. in Wrightwood Park, or Summer Dance on Saturday, June 30, at 6 p.m. in Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park.