Blog

Summer 2017 – Live music lives in SF/Northern Cali

Posted by on Jun 21, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Welcome to Summer 2017!  I have been on hiatus from posting the past two months due to personal reasons.  However, I”m back feeling renewed and refreshed.  I saw a trio of terrific Cuban and Salsa shows during these weeks: Alexander Abreu and Havana D’Primera were phenomenal at Roccapulco..what a tight and dynamic orchestra!  The huge and talented presence of bandleader/vocalist/trumpeter Abreu was matched by the charismatic star presence of ex-Van Vanero, Mayito Rivera who is quite an exceptional vocalist.  They teamed up on an incredible tribute to Juan Formell with Rivera singing one of Los Van Van’s anthems “Soy Todo”.  Simply a great show. Around Carnaval SF Weekend, I just caught some fine acts such as Grammy Award winner Javier Cabanillas “Cabanijazz Project” smoke it out with guest vocalist Edgardo Cambon as well as the hot “La Misa Negra” with their fresh Cumbia sounds and great stage show.  Also caught the reunion of Ramocue with ex-Los Mocosos Victor Castro and Shorty throwing down the funk Mission style. That same weekend, I caught one of the finest Salsa orchestras in the world today, The Spanish Harlem Orchestra under the direction of pianist Oscar Hernandez at Yoshis in Oakland.  SHO were debuting a couple of songs from their forthcoming album as well as some of the favorites from their last few recordings.  SHO were very impressive with a power packed band including timbalero Luisito Quintero, trombonist Doug Beavers, saxophonist/flautist Mitch Frohman and their explosive trio of vocalists: Marco Bermudez, Carlos Cascante and Jeremy Bosch (also exceptional on flute). The Western Region Puerto Rican Council presented the 39th edition of the El Dia De San Juan Festival at History Park in San Jose.  This year’s festival featured the exceptional vocal stylings of Herman Olivera, one of the top Salsa singers in this day and age and the youthful and energetic Salsa of Norberto and Gerardo of NG2.  Backed by the impressive all-star <strong>Orquesta Taino, Olivera shined with a powerful set of his past hits that he’s recorded with Eddie Palmieri, Manny Qquendo and Libre and his acclaimed recording La Voz Del Caribe.  Olivera’s fierce soneos combined with his smooth dance moves to deliver a great performance which ignited the audience. NG2 kept the energy up with their high octane show displaying their great voices which combined their well-known songs with their new material.  NG2 kept the dancers going with their contagious commercial Salsa sound tailored for today’s audiences.  Taino did a great job backing up both Olivera and...

read more

Con Sabor – Sat. 4/1/17 9 pm – KPFA 94.1 FM/El Dia De La Salsa, etc.

Posted by on Mar 28, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Con Sabor – Sat. 4/1/17 9 pm – KPFA 94.1 FM/El Dia De La Salsa, etc.

“Con Sabor with Luis Medina” is presenting a special report from this past weekend’s star-studded El Dia De La Salsa in Puerto Rico that starred the iconic El Gran Combo, salsa goddess India and other huge stars. Our guest corespondent, Julio Bravo was there in San Juan covering the concert and all the happenings prior to the concert.  Plus information on the upcoming 60th SF International Film Festival.  Also featuring the hottest new Salsa, Latin Jazz, Musica Cubana and more!  Tune in this Saturday April 1st, starting at 9 pm on KPFA 94.1 FM and streaming on-line at www.kpfa.org where music programs are archived for 2 weeks after...

read more

Benefit for Jose Ruiz-Casa De Cultura 3/5/17

Posted by on Mar 9, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Benefit for Jose Ruiz-Casa De Cultura 3/5/17

There was a packed gathering of folks at the benefit for esteemed DJ/radio host/community stalwart Jose Ruiz at Berkeley’s Casa De Cultura this past Sunday. Jose is undergoing treatment for throat cancer and the benefit was organized to help him with living expenses during the next few months.  Los Cenzontles, John Santos Sextet with special guests Orestes Vilato and Bobi Cespedes, Orquesta La Moderna Tradicion, DJ’s Carlitos Way and Reyes from L.A. provided the musical fireworks.  KCSM’s Chuy Varela and I had the opportunity to say a few words about Jose and introduce La Moderna and John Santos Sextet respectively.   But the real story was the love and concern of the audience for Jose who has helped many in his community work for such places as La Pena, Los Cenzontles Cultural Center, Casa De Cultura, the Cheeseboard and his late business Casa Latina in Berkeley.  Jose showed up to the benefit, hugged old friends, family and colleagues and danced with a few lady friends and his mother.  Jose was looking thinner due to the chemotherapy but was in great spirits.  He got up in front of the audience to declare that he was going to come back to host his programs on KPFA and KPOO and resume all the wonderful work to thunderous applause. I wish you a speedy and lasting recovery, my brother Jose...

read more

Hola 2017!!

Posted by on Jan 2, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Hola 2017!!

As we start the new year 2017, I’ll recap what came down during the past holiday season. Los Van Van put on a spectacular show at Roccapulco (although I thought their Herbst Theater show was a better show). Both Charanga Habanera and Alexander Abreu/Havana D’Primera cancelled their SF Bay shows due to inept national producers and visa problems. We missed seeing International and National Salsa acts visiting the area during the month of December and especially NYE. The annual SF International Salsa Congress was sorely missed this year. They would always feature international Salsa greats as headliners. As we enter this new year, a new promising venue Calle 11 is opening South of Market on January 5th at the old Paradise Lounge site at 11th & Folsom St. in SF in the same neighborhood as Slims. The club features 3 floors with a ground floor Salsa club and an upstairs Puerto Rican restaurant. Latin Jazz icon Pete Escovedo has been added to Yoshi’s January lineup on January 21st and 22nd. And…my radio program “Con Sabor” on KPFA 94.1 FM and worldwide on www.kpfa.org on Saturday evenings from 9 to 11 pm is celebrating 20 years on the air! Thanks to all the listeners for your support…2017 will be full of bright moments during this anniversary...

read more

Enrique Romero “El Molestoso” RIP

Posted by on Nov 17, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Enrique Romero “El Molestoso” RIP

My esteemed colleague and friend, Enrique Romero died last week at the age of 58 of Cancer. Enrique was a great catalyst in the European Salsa scene. He was established as an important journalist, record producer, radio producer, host, publicist, dj’, graphic artist and event producer. He was known as “El Molestoso” (named after the Eddie Palmieri tune) for his notoriously wicked sense of humor and critical opinions that left no holds barred. He would give you the brutal truth which endeared him to some and offended others but that was part of his unique personality. His brilliant but short lived 90’s magazine “El Manicero” was beautifully done with great graphics, insightful interviews with Cachao and Eddie Palmieri among others and was considered essential reading for Salsa aficionados. He produced a series of compilations for Musica Del Sol which celebrated the work of great artists such as Joe Cuba, Benny More and brought attention to unsung heroes such as Rene Grand. He was a PR wunderkind for such media outlets as the progressive Radio Gladys Palmera in Spain and the Antilla News for many years. He also worked as an artistic advisor and featured dj with Tempo Latino, the largest outdoor music festival in Europe devoted to Salsa, Musica Cubana and Latin alternative music. Enrique was also host of his radio program “Picadillo” which featured his eclectic taste from Salsa to the new fusions in Latin music. His DJ sessions at Tempo Latino and a whole host of venues in Barcelona were instrumental in keeping Salsa and related music alive in Europe. I last saw him this past August. He was recovering from surgery. My wife Isidra and I spent the afternoon with him. We had some great laughs over lunch. I said what would be my last goodbye to him. The European music and literary community are in morning and so am I. He will sorely be missed. Enrique has gone to join the big descarga in the next dimension. Adios, dear...

read more

Cuban Music Explosion in the SF Bay

Posted by on Oct 24, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Cuban Music Explosion in the SF Bay

The San Francisco Bay Area is enjoying a Cuban music explosion during the next few months. Popular Cubatoneros Los 4 packed Roccapulco this past Saturday. The John Santos Sextet performed a Sacred tribute to the drum featuring special guests Orestes Vilato and Bobi Cespedes on Sunday. Now the Bay Area is going to be visited by the likes of the new Havana Cuba All Stars, the new Chucho Valdes/Joe Lovano Quintet, Chucho’s son Chuchito Valdes, David Calzado & Charanga Habanera, Los Van Van, Alexander Abreu & Havana D’Primera during the new month and a half! San Francisco Bay Area’s own Tito Gonzalez Y Su Son De Cuba, Miguelito Martinez “Cuba Le Canta A Mexico Project”, Fito Reinoso’s Ritmo Y Armonia and Clasicos De Cuba bands, Rumbache and Orquesta La Moderna Tradicion have been performing the popular sounds from Son to Timba in the local festivals, clubs and venues. A lot of DJ’s have been incorporating Cuban music into their repertoire including long-time stalwarts DJ Walt Digz and DJ Dark Rum. Popular DJ Leydis has recently played the White House as an invited guest for National Hispanic month. And I have always incorporated the intoxicating sounds of Timba and Son into my DJ sets for los bailadores! I will keep you posted on future happenings in the SF...

read more

Fernandito Junior-On His Way Up!

Posted by on Oct 10, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Fernandito Junior-On His Way Up!

SF Bay Area based vocalist Fernando Wilkins a.k.a. Fernandito Junior has just put out his debut release “Un Nuevo Capitulo”on his own PE Entertainment label. Wilkins went to Puerto Rico to collaborate with Salsa star and composer Nino Segarra on his new recording that features 8 sparkling tracks full of heartfelt lyrics, swinging arrangements and catchy hooks. “Un Nuevo Capitulo” is the latest evolution of this artist who has several recordings under his belt as part of a duo with his former partner, Neftali Rosado of the band “Pa’l Bailador”. Wilkins left to pursue his artistic vision and desire to penetrate the Salsa market under his own persona. He has recently performed as part of percussionist Cafe August’s Orquesta De La Isla orquesta. Wilkins/Fernandito Jr. celebrated the release of his recording with a huge party at the new Sunday hot spot, Boogaloo Sundays at Gordon Biersch Brewery in San Jose. The party featured Wilkins, the powerful Orquesta De La Isla orchestra and special guest Nino Segarra flying in from Puerto Rico to play the show. There were plenty of explosive music moments throughout the show! I had the pleasure of emceeing the show and performing as DJ for this special evening! The cd is available at most digital platforms including Itunes, Amazon and CD...

read more

Mill Valley Film Festival…Viva El Cine!

Posted by on Oct 10, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Mill Valley Film Festival…Viva El Cine!

The Mill Valley Film Festival is offering an impressive slate of Latin films among their diverse offerings from big, potentially huge blockbusters to tribute nights to stars such as Nicole Kidman to Gael Garcia Bernal to a daily schedule of music events covering the gamut from Americana to Gospel now through October 16th. Alejandro Escovedo will be a featured artist during their musical schedule of events at the Sweetwater night club on Friday, October 14. Highlights include the acclaimed Sonia Braga starred vehicle “Aquarius”, the new Pedro Almodovar film “Julieta”, the new film “Neruda” featuring Gael Garcia Bernal, “Monday Nights at Seven” featuring Edward James Olmos (who also is executive producer of the film) and other great offerings. For more information, please visit...

read more

Latino Film Festival-Alma Y Mas

Posted by on Sep 29, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Latino Film Festival-Alma Y Mas

I made it to the opening night of the Cine + Mas 8th SF Latino Film Festival to see the Chilean comedy “Alma”. It had a light, airy touch considering that it’s about a serious subject: a heroine that’s a manic depressive with bi-polar disorder. Under less capable hands, this film could have been a depressing fiasco. However, it was a hilarious farce built around the 20 year marriage between Alma and her husband, Fernando. When Fernando lets his frustrations with her behavior come out at the worst possible time and declares that he is ashamed of her illness, he gets kicked out of the house and Alma meets Gaspar a new, younger suitor. It is Fernando’s quest to get her back that is the cornerstone of this engaging comedy. Other significant films that were featured during the festival included the powerful prison drama “Perros” which stars comedian John Leguziamo in a serious dramatic role, the Cuban family saga “Cafe Amargo” and the intriguing Mexican drama “Amir” about an aspiring musician who has to resolve conflicts on his way to adulthood. This is the eight annual Latino Film Festival which have shown films in venues as diverse as the Alamo Draftshouse, the Roxie Theater, The DeYoung Museum and the Mission Cultural...

read more

Notes from Late Summer 2016

Posted by on Sep 10, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Notes from Late Summer 2016

Hi Everyone, I hope that your Summer was full of fun and excitement. I recently returned from visiting in-laws, family and friends in Spain! I got back to participate in the San Jose Jazz Summerfest on a Salsa DJ fueled stage with my radio colleague Jose Ruiz…it was a blast! I was sidelined for most of the month after the show recovering from an accident (I’m ok!!) However, I was able to bounce back and volunteer my help during Labor Day weekend at the annual Brazilian Day – Lavagem produced by my old friend Concecao Damasceno of Ginga Brasil/Bras Arte and the great people of Casa Del Cultura.(Shout out to Nick, Jose, Vanessa and the crew). Great live music provided by special guest Margareth Menezes sitting in with SambaDa(who were fabulous), Spok, Boca Do Rio, Dandara and Pandemonium and others!! I was also able to catch only a bit of the Festival De La Isla up in Vacaville. I caught a bit of the music of Avance, Hector Tricoche(who killed it with Orquesta De La Isla) and 90’s Salsa Romantica crooner Nino Segarra. I wasn’t able to catch Johnny Rivera or Ray Sepulveda but I heard they had great sets! Catch you...

read more