It was a cold, blustery trip to Westbrook, and we were to be rewarded by hot Tex-Mex fare and margaritas. We arrived at Fajita Grill for a friend's birthday party and were immediately greeted by a six-foot Christmas tree and the warm sound of "Feliz Navidad" ringing through the restaurant — we had no idea there would be live music.
It was Manuel who, like Madonna or Cher, only has a first name. He's a Mexican man roughly in his early 60s. With his weathered, beat-up acoustic guitar, he made his way from table to table, serenading senoritas and birthday parties alike. He was dressed in a traditional Latin American suit, which reminded me of a mariachi band or a matador, but much a simpler navy blue with gold trim. His gigantic silver belt buckle tied the outfit together.
Fajita Grill is a large restaurant divided in two sections by the bar in the middle, but Manuel's voice rang clearly above the ambient chatter of the patrons. When he arrived at our table, much to our delight, he opened with "Guantanamera," a well-known traditional Cuban song. Next, he transformed "La Bamba" from an overplayed '80s hit into a ballad, which could very well have been written about his own personal trials and tribulations. He left us wanting more, and we hoped a large tip would encourage him to return to our table.
It was unclear, from either Manuel or the staff, how often he stops by, but he was absolutely the highlight of our night.
: New England Music News
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