Joyful Pre Xmas Tribute To Jose Guaman

Posted on Dec 22, 2011

I was scheduled to dj the last part of the benefit/tribute to La Fuerza Gigante’s band leader and bongocero Jose Guaman last Sunday.  He has been battling pancreatic cancer.  A group of friends led by fellow musician “Cafe” Agosto and Angel Cordero organized this benefit/tribute to a nice guy.  By the time I arrived at Cocomo,  I was delighted to see that the place was stuffed with folks and that they were being entertained by the likes of Orquesta Borinquen who played a smokin’ set.  DJ Carlitos Way followed them with selections that connected with the dancing crowd. Guaman has been a fixture on the salsa scene for the past decade or so with Orquesta Baakan.  He had to change the name to La Fuerza Gigante a while back due to legal reasons but that hasn’t stopped him from radiating his warm personality, putting out a big smile and playing good music.  The Salsa community that night reflected an older, mature crowd who enjoyed and applauded the sounds of  Pa’l Bailador, Julio Bravo Y Salsabor, Alexis Y Su Original which also featured veteran sonero Monchy Esteves, La Fuerza Gigante and special guests throughout the entire evening. There was a touching, heartfelt tribute to Jose from family members including his wife and sons and fellow musicians such as Karl Perrazo, Julio Bravo, Cafe and Avance’s Armando Cordova.  There were a lot of teary eyes during that tribute at Cocomo.  The show ran late but I got my chance to play music in honor of Jose. The show reflected life as it often plays out: the happy with the sad and the hard road ahead.  Jose was showered with enthusiastic support, hope and optimism from a loving, appreciative crowd.  I was glad I was...

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Posted on Dec 15, 2011

Hahahaha!  We need to laugh as we near the close of another year.  We have made it.  We survived another long year. A worldwide financial crisis and a bad economy has cost millions of people jobs, security and in some cases, their homes.  There is a monetary and class divide that has deepened the gulf between the halves and have nots.  The middle class has shrunk over the course of the last three years. This situation drove people to the streets to voice their anger and frustration with the target being the one percent who have the majority of the money and power.  Activists have been butting heads with police on the streets to call attention to these issues.  It is dawning on all of us that the 99 percent is a wide range of people that are different and diverse.  It’s difficult for people to agree on what to do next. The landscape of this rapidly changing world has now forced creative people to turn into unlikely entrepreneurs and businessmen in order to survive and thrive.   We need to educate ourselves, read and learn new skills that can keep opening new doors to us while we learn to navigate the political system to our advantage.  We need to vote and advocate for better opportunities and perhaps, a responsive government.  Welcome to the new year....

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Eddie Palmieri celebrates 75th!

Posted on Dec 4, 2011

The irresistible rhythms of salsa dura were driving people to the dance floor at the San Francisco Yoshi’s club.  The sound was coming from 9 time Grammy award winning maestro Eddie Palmieri who was in town to celebrate his 75th birthday.  One of the true geniuses and innovators of Latin music who has been making an impact since the 1960’s, Palmieri continues his life work by putting out dynamic recordings such as his new 50th Anniversary dvd. Powerful live performances has always been Palmieri’s speciality.  This was evident as he brought La Perfecta II featuring an all-star group consisting of the great sonero Herman Olivera, trescero extraordinare Nelson Gonzalez, young bass phenom Loques Curtis, the tight percussion section of Little Johnny Rivero, Jose Clausell and Orlando Vega, the tremendous horn section featuring the trombones of Jimmy Bosch and Doug Beavers and the flute of Karen Joseph.  Palmieri’s repertoire consisted of his classic dance tunes such as “Sujetate La Lengua”, “La Malanga”and “Lo Que Traigo Es Sabroso” to name a few. La Perfecta II is simply one of the finest live dance orchestras that exist…period.  The interplay and communication between musicians, the sheer virtuosity of the players and the fiercest dance music to be heard on any bandstand.  Eddie Palmieri was in fine form whether he was playing jaw dropping solos, leading his top-notch ensemble or cracking jokes to the audience.  I wasn’t alone in thinking that I was lucky to be there to catch the master at...

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Ragga Muffins Go Crazy at Mezzanine

Posted on Nov 28, 2011

I knew that there were many Reggaeton fans out there but fans of Reggae En Espanol?  You bet!  The hip trendy club Mezzanine featured 3 out of the biggest acts in the genre: Cultura Profetica, Gondwana, Los Cafres along with locally based Bayonics at the Reggae Latino 2011 Fest.  The place was packed with mostly young people who danced, screamed, jumped, cheered and raised their drinks up in the air to party to their heroes on stage.  DJ Stepwise kept the heads bobbing in-between the breaks.  Cultura lived up to their headline status with a dynamic set featuring their potent politically charged dance music.  Los Cafres’ charismatic vocalist had the crowd pumped up while the band slammed down their ragga dub beats.  The Bay Area’s own Bayonics, in true chameleon form stuck to the Reggae theme of the evening, held their own with a powerful opening set.  I missed Gondwana but caught a lot of the island love before I left the club thanks to Adrian Goddard of Jaffe...

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