CongaDr+ '''Tony's Conga Adventures: La Pena rumba 10.08 - thoughts about re-focusing

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

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La Pena rumba 10.08 - thoughts about re-focusing

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A fun time was had by all in another La Pena rumba session on a nice Indian Summer day in Berkeley California.

Yagbe, Santos, Pili, Trevino, Orlando and his brother, Javier and a the regular crew of hackers.

There is a moratorium on filming at La Pena... with patience, im sure we can film again at some point. In the mean time... enjoy a session from 5/08... Im actually thinking of setting up a pod cast one day. We'll see... that would be fat!

Yaya had a gig, and was sorely missed. The singing was in need of some structure, to say the least. At one point, they were singing in the wrong spot in clave, while the cat on segunda was on the wrong side as well. I was on quinto and was like.. what the @#$% is going on here!... oh well.

At times, it ripped. Yagbe and Pili are great to watch play together. They are working together more and more, and you can feel the chemistry between these two great players. Its fun to see.

Pili was on fire, and ripping holes in the quinto. He has such rocket slaps! man... and his technique on the quinto cajon... very nice work. Trevino on Paila... man.. he is Mr. Smooth!

Other times it was burdened with amateurs. Some cats need to lay back and let the rumba happen, instead of trying to jump in and frantically swim like a drowning cat. Some think they can play, because they are from Havana or whatever... we all know that's a joke.

My family is from Austria, you dont see me crashing the local Polka scene, jumping on stage, slobbering all over the Tuba like i know what im doing. ;) - although that does sound like fun...

Im in a somewhat weird spot these days... My ears arent letting me enjoy what i used to tolerate, and some of the politics are wearing thin.

I was somewhat bummed after the session... It seems, at times, somewhat aimless.

I'm in an in between mode here, as i grow as a musician. Playing with the less experienced is not fun or educational. Playing with the heavies is not as common as i would like.

In the scene, I'm 'ranked' just under the top players of the bay, but am making quick progress and growing faster than most. I'm not called in on most of the 'raindeer games' of the masters of the bay, even though they are happy to see me, and welcome me to play whenever i see them. I'm certainly not considered one of the top players, by the top players, as of yet.

At 41, and with about six years of experience playing this style, I feel I am learning faster than ever. Im probably about half way there, as far as what i would like to learn about this tradition, at minimum. mid 50's will work for me.. i just need to keep on trucking.

Its fun to think, there is no end to what can be learned in this tradition... there is always another song... another style....

I dont know of anyone, other than Carlos Aldama and Sandy Perez, who seemingly have it all figured out. Im talking several traditions, song, dance and drum.

I'm also at a point in my career that i am expecting more from myself, and expect to continue to expand my education in this tradition and grow as a technical player and singer in an ever increasing way.

Its not good enough to be a part of the scene, not in the slightest. I have high expectations, and i am well positioned to have success in this quest.

Its all fun to hang and jam. I love to see the cats enjoying themselves, and it is a brotherhood of players, however dysfunctional... I just have other interests these days. I have to keep the eye on the ball. This is my work, not to say its not to be enjoyed.

To break through this ever thinning glass ceiling, i simply need to practise and study more. Hard work will get me past the roadblocks. I once said to Flaco, for some reason.. 'hurdles come and go' when talking about the difficulty in becoming an accomplished and accepted musician in this tradition. I think i have ultimate faith that I will continue on this path, no matter how arduous.



Working on my chops, I am. Working on the material of the Villamil family and Maestro Aldama.... thats it. Im working on a long trip to Matanzas in the near future, but for now... woodshedding and being patiently persistent in my participation in the scene, no matter how frustrating it may be, will see me through.

I do need to find a way to lighten up, and follow the lead of some of the more experienced players who come to these public sessions with a grain of salt in there lip, and a spirit of tolerance. Id hate to not be a part of the scene, simply because there are not as many enjoyable sessions.

I just need to re-focus, and take a light heated approach to learning what i can out of each session, and do my part in contributing to the tradition.

In the mean time... check out the great Chavalonga on the docks! Where it all happened. He was one of Sandy's mentors.

Tony










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