CongaDr+ Tony's Conga Adventures: La Pena rumba 8.03.08 - Avotcja's birthday performance

Monday, August 4, 2008

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La Pena rumba 8.03.08 - Avotcja's birthday performance

The rumba at La Pena was ripping, as always, with Yaya, Flaco, Santos, Barroso and Javier leading the charge. Orlando brought some of his Cuban friends, to sing and play with a real street sound... streets of Havana, that is. Not that they seemed to be very talented singers, but it was fun anyway.

At one point Barroso let loose on the dance floor.... and he wasn't doing the hustle...

What a master dancer this cat is. He is amazing. He is Rumba.

We had a blast playing and singing... but we did miss Rick's set of Isla's we usually get to play. He'll be back in town soon, and we will all rejoice.

He is so kind to virtually always bring his gear. Hauling gear to the rumba is a pain in the ars, and a thankless job for the most part. Your gear gets worked, misstuned, over cranked, dropped, broken, spilled on, etc. But the trade off... it gets played by several masters of their traditions. What more can a drum ask for.

The rumbas, although usually called the La Pena rumba, is actually at the cafe' next door, Cafe' Valpariso. Its serves Chilean/Peruvian fair, and carries some nice brew by my favorite brewery, Moonlight brewing, some of the best beer around. Ive actually been to Valpariso, a town on the coast of Chile outside of Santiago. Beautiful place... gotta try the Machas... but I digress...

So, the La Pena theater, a small 60 seat venue next door, was holding a celebration to commemorate the birth of Avotcja, a local performer and community leader.

Yaya asked if I would join him in playing a Yambu or two with the crew. It was the first time Ive played at La Pena, to a mostly packed house... it was great.

Caroline Brandy opened it up with a nice, all female, Guadapachangueo, with Caroline ripping on Quinto - speaking the language. She is one of the preeminent female percussionist in the country, and she's studied from the best, here and in Cuba. She knows her craft.

So, we hit the stage after some spoken word, and, after a nice introduction of the band, and plug for this blog, Yaya led us in a Yambu.

the line up - Enrique Carrao, Yaya Maldonado, Javier Navarrette, Trevino Leon, Butch Haynes, Tony D and myself - in full tie die regalia! go Berkeley! ;)

We had fun playing some rumba - the crowd loved it. It was really nice to perform with these cats. It was like an 'Ive come a long way in a short time' moment... time stopped back stage... a moment to reflect on the last few years.

For 5 years now, I've been on the quest to gain a general understanding of the AfroCuban tradition. I feel like Im making progress, and need to work harder to see it through, before the end of my life.

I've begun to play Bata again. And I feel the time is right for me to advance my understanding.

I thank my inspirations, of whom there are many.

Here is the bill for the gig, from

Music & Spoken Word

Avotcja's Birthday Bash!

Sunday August 03, 2008 $10-$20 sliding scale - 7pm

A night of music, dance & spoken word with Avotcja & Modupue, Lady Bianca-Oakland Blues Diva & La Familia Govea. Poetry by Adam David Miller, Genny Lim, Charles & Topaz Dubois, Eric Aviles, Leslie Simon, Raymond Nat Turner & Ziggy Lowenberg, MamaCoatl, and Alejandra Mojica. Plus Carolyn Brandy, Manny Martinez, and Ian Dogle. Wheelchair accessible and all ages welcome.

Poet, playwright, multi-percussionist, photographer and teacher, Avotcja has been published in English & Spanish in the USA, Mexico and Europe. She is an award winning Poet & multi-instrumentalist.

So... after the gig, I packed up a set of JCR Conga, a JCR Tumba, and an Isla Conga, to be reskinned for the gracious and kind Norman, owner of many flowery shirts and bright colors that reflect his effervescent demeanor. He is one of the people im always glad to see at a rumba, with a broad smile and a positive outlook.

anyway, this time, Ill post a before and after video! so ya'll can see the change in sound, and why we reskin all our drums. It will be posted in the next week or so.


jcr congas, jcr percussion, isla percussion, isla congas, conga skins, conga skin, Mule skin, cow hide,

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