CongaDr+ '''Tony's Conga Adventures: March 2009

Monday, March 30, 2009

Conjunto Karabali at Cafe Cocomo 4/2, 4/3


Start Time:
Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 10:00pm
End Time:
Friday, April 3, 2009 at 1:00am
Location:
Cafe Cocomo
Street:
650 INDIANA STREET
City/Town:
San Francisco, CA

reposted:

Conjunto Karabali is San Francisco’s newest and hottest Latin dance band, featuring some of the finest talent in the Bay Area. The band is co-led by two of the United States’ most renowned percussionists, Mike Spiro and Karl Perazzo, who have joined forces to create a group specifically for the dancer’s enjoyment.

They describe Karabali’s style as “old school” salsa, and they bring to the Bay Area for the first time the traditional NY conjunto sound, popularized by Johnny Pacheco, Conjunto Clasico and Conjunto Libre. This band is about swing and joyful energy, and the dancers can’t wait to hit the floor when Karabali kicks into high gear.

The band boasts a who’s-who of SF Latin music all-stars in its line-up, starting of course with its leaders, Mike and Karl. These two internationally recognized drummers have performed and recorded with almost every major Latin artist of the last 30 years, from Eddie Palmieri to Carlos Santana, from Tito Puente to Celia Cruz. This is to say nothing of their credits as producers, bandleaders, and clinicians. Their extensive recordings over the last 25 years include internationally recognized jazz, Latin-jazz and pop artists, for which they have each received multiple Grammies and Grammy nominations.

When organizing the band, Mike and Karl asked Edgardo Cambon, the multi-talented vocalist/percussionist to take on the lead vocal chores, and then added Bob Karty on piano, Steve Senft-Herrera on bass, and the latest addition to the Bay Area music scene Miguel Martinez on flute. They then asked two of the finest trombone players in the area, Jeff Cressman and Marty Wehner, to come on board, along with the great Bill Ortiz on trumpet.

There is no greater collection of musicians in any Latin band in the Bay Area, and with this caliber of musicianship and the hard driving swing the band brings to every performance, it is no wonder that club owners and concert promoters throughout California can’t wait to get Conjunto Karabali on stage. For more info on Mike and Karl: Michaelspiro.com Myspace.com/karlperazzo Contact information: Debi Perazzo/Band Representative P.O.Box 381 San Leandro, Ca. 94577 Office 510-633-1877 monarecords@comcast.net -

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Jesus Diaz y su QBA, 5/3 at Jelly's SF



Jesus Diaz y su QBA
Sunday May 3, 2009 at 5:00pm
Jelly's
295 Trry Francois Blvd, Pier 50
San Francisco, California 94107
Bring your dancing shoes and come get your groove on with JESUS DIAZ and his monster all-star band QBA!

Cuban born percussionist Jesús Diaz has quietly and assuredly taken the Bay Area music by storm, and established a place in the world of Latin and Cuban style dance music. The rich musical diversity of the Bay Area, combined with the roots of Afro-Cuban music, has provided the opportunity to learn, experiment and arrive at the evolution of what QBA is today.


Buy the CD

Jesús has assembled an incomparable orchestra of accomplished artists whose talents combine Funk, Jazz, Rumba, Son, and varied Afro-Cuban elements within the syncopation of modern expressions in Cuban dance music. This musical tradition is rooted in the firm belief in the importance of creating new and unique "signature" styles and sounds. The drive of the music is a direct function of remaining actively engaged with the dancers. Original "Timba" is indeed alive and well here in the United States. QBA fuses modern and traditional elements of Afro-Cuban influences within dance music to create their own unique sound.

This is a MurrayLowGig
Ticket Info: $10

Omar Sosa Afreecanos Quartet Today! 4:30 in half moon bay


Omar Sosa Afreecanos Quartet
Sunday March 29, 2009 at 4:30pm
Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society at the Douglas Beach House
311 Mirada Road
Half Moon Bay, California 94019
Three-time Grammy-nominated Cuban composer and pianist Omar Sosa brings Africa, Cuba, Brazil & France influences to celebrate African music in Jazz. This performance is in association with his new recording on Half Note: "Across The Divide: A Tale of Rhythm & Ancestry.”

This new Afreecanos ensemble features noted percussionist and educator, John Santos, Mozambican electric bassist and vocalist, Childo Tomas, and New York-based saxophonist and flute player, Peter Apfelbaum.

Click here to buy the cd Africanos in concert




Click here to buy the cd Live a FiP
Rooted in the Afro-Cuban tradition, three-time GRAMMY-nominated Cuban composer and pianist Omar Sosa continues to explore the African roots of folkloric music throughout the Diaspora, using modern jazz harmonies and the latest audio technology. Sosa’s new Afreecanos ensemble features noted percussionist and educator, John Santos, Mozambican electric bassist and vocalist, Childo Tomas, and New York-based saxophonist and flute player, Peter Apfelbaum. The ensemble fuses the folkloric with the contemporary, the ancestral with the urban - all with a Latin jazz heart.

The Douglas Beach House is a legendary oceanfront live music club in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is home to the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society, a non profit organization that has been presenting Sunday afternoon headliner Jazz and Classical Music with an ocean view since 1964. Located directly on Miramar Beach in Half Moon Bay, 45 minutes from San Francisco and Silicon Valley, the Bach Society is a major contributor to the San Francisco live jazz scene by presenting national touring jazz concerts and classical performances in an intimate venue. According to the musicians, the Douglas Beach House is “the best small venue in the United States.” Founder, Pete Douglas, says, “We bring a chamber approach to music in a casual beachfront setting, respectful of both the artist and the audience.” All performances are open to the public and partially supported by members and contributors. Buffet and drinks available although you can bring your own wine!
Ticket Info: $35

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Yoshis sf 4/25,26

Jerry Gonzalez and his troupe will be hitting Yoshis in San Francisco April 25th to perform material from his new CD, Jerry Garcia y los Piratas del Flamenco - CLICK HERE TO BUY


(reposted, not sure of source) Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band is dedicated to playing uncompromised Afro-Caribbean Jazz. The sophistication of the Fort Apache sound is highlighted by the group’s ability to bring a jazz flexibility to the Latin Rhythm section. As noted in the New York Times: "A Fort Apache tune may start out swinging with the feel of the drummer Art Blakey, then move into a Cuban guaganco, then take on a shuffle, then return to swing."

Jerry Gonzalez' first High profile professional engagement came at the age of 19, in 1971 with Dizzy Gillespie. Since then he has worked with masters from the jazz and Latin music fields such as: Kenny Dorham, Tony Williams, McCoy Tyner, Jaco Pastorius, Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri, and Manny Oquendo Y Libre. Jerry Gonzalez' first session as a leader came in 1980 with the critically acclaimed recording of Ya Yo Me Cure on the American Clave' label. Following the success of Ya Yo Me Cure, The Fort Apache Band was formed, and included such members as Kenny Kirkland, Sonny Fortune, Nicky Marrero, Papo Vazquez, the late Jorge Dalto, and Milton Cardona. The ensembles first two albums were recorded live at European jazz festivals, The River is Deep, 1982 in Berlin: Obatala, 1988 in Zurich.


In 1989, Fort Apache recorded the groundbreaking Rumba Para Monk as a quintet featuring: Jerry Gonzalez (trumpet, flugelhorn, congas), Andy Gonzalez (bass), Steve Berrios (drums), Larry Willis (piano), and Carter Jefferson (tenor saxophone). Rumba Para Monk was named album of the year by the French Academe du Jazz, and resulted in the group being voted The Word Beat Group of the year in Downbeat's 55th annual Readers Poll. It is this recording that has been cited as leading the resurgence in Afro-Caribbean Jazz in the past decade.

The group became a sextet with the addition of Joe Ford (alto & soprano saxophone) for 1991's Earthdance (Sunnyside) and 1992's Moliendo Cafe (Sunnyside). Following the death of Carter Jefferson, former Fort Apache member John Stubblefield returned to the fold on tenor sax to record the Grammy nominated Crossroads (Milestone). The ensembles 1995 recording Pensativo (Milestone) also received a Grammy nomination. On the heals of the Grammy nominations for Crossroads, and Pensativo the ensemble was awarded The Beyond Group of the Year by both Downbeat Magazines reader's and critic's polls in 1995 and 1996.

Firedance (Milestone), Fort Apache's latest release was recorded in February 1996 at Blues Alley, in Washington DC and is the first live recording of the ensemble as a Sextet. Following this fiery recording, the ensemble won the award of Best Jazz Group in Playboy Magazines Readers Poll for 1997. In 1998 the ensemble swept the Latin Jazz category at the New York Jazz Awards winning both the Industry and Journalist Polls. In 1999 the group swept the critics and readers polls for Beyond Group of The Year in Downbeat Magazine.



In 2001 Jerry Gonzalez And The Fort Apache Band are prominently featured in Fernando Trueba’s film on Latin Jazz "Calle 54" (Miramax). CLICK HERE TO BUY

This film has received great critical acclaim throughout the world and is being followed up by a series of concerts promoting the film including an engagement at The Beacon Theatre in New York City. The Soundtrack "Calle 54 - Music From The Miramax Motion Picture" is available on Blue Note Records.

The collaboration with Fernando Trueba has also resulted in the production of a new CD Jerry Gonzalez Y Los Pyrates Del Flamenco featuring Jerry Gonzalez along with a Gypsy Flamenco group that includes the esteemed Flamenco singer "El Cigala." The recording is currently available on the Spanish label Lola Records.



In it's present form, Fort Apache realizes the vision of seamless Afro-Carribean Jazz, which the band members have pursued for most of their career - as Jerry Gonzalez himself describes it: "I don't want to compromise the rhythm, and I don't want to compromise the Jazz playing.

(Check out the fat Mat Smith congas Jerry plays)

The cats that play in my band have to understand how to play the blues and clave." With these ideals, the integration of world-class bebop and Afro-Carribean music, The Fort Apache Band has become one of the most respected and exciting ensembles in modern music. Indeed The San Francisco Examiner proclaims "Fort Apache's music is great listening, great jazz, and great fun. They don't hardly make 'em like this any more."

By the way, Jerry is playing Matt Smith congas in these pics... check out how high he have the crowns!

Saturday 8pm & 10pm shows $25
Sunday 2pm Matinee show:
Kids $5, Adult (with kid) $18, Adult General $25
Sunday 7pm show $25

Edgardo Cambon and Candela at Yoshis SF 4/18 8,10pm


Yoshi’s welcomes back Conga drummer-lead singer Edgardo Cambón and his Salsa Band “Edgardo & Candela,"
for an evening of rhythm explosion and a lot of fun dancing to Edgardo's original tunes and the bands interpretations of Salsa hits of the 80’,
combined with a pinch of Latin Jazz for the avid listeners.

“Having recently celebrated 20 years of uninterrupted Salsa groves with their NEW acclaimed production "Celebrando 20 Años," Edgardo’s cast of young and veteran lions always deliver!”
KCSM Jazz Station Program Director, Jesse “Chuy” Varela.
(Latin Beat Magazine.)

Congratulations “Edgardo & Candela,” winners of the “GrIndie Award” given by Radio Indy, one of the largest Internet radio stations and music digital distribution companies.
The “GrIndie Award” is given in recognition of quality and excellence in overall CD production, based on audience response.

More info on “Edgardo & Candela” at:
http://www.myspace.com/edgardoycandela

two shows, 8 and 10 pm, $16, open dance floor... See you there!

Tony

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fito Reinoso y su Armonia in Marin 4/17



If tax day was a bit rough, why not party with Fito and friends in Marin on the 17th? You can write off the ticket as research for a book about the use of Son, and its stress relieving positive effect on paying ones taxes. You may actually get that one through!

Anyway, Fito and his brothers will be hitting the stage in Mill Valley, and this is a show you have to see. This is one great band, with Sandy Perez on congas, Rick Ramos on Tres, and other heavies... Jose Luis Gomez, Saul Sierra, he always bring in the best of the bay.


Buy the CD

By the way, check out his Cd Communicacion! Man, what a fat project that is! I love the tumbaos and the progressions of this cd.. its all that. Nice work Fito! (click it to buy it)

CultuCuba dance party 4/4 in Oakland


Good friend and seriously talented Cuban dancer, Manual Suarez is having a Dance Party and Benefit to promote his project CultuCuba - a non-profit to promote Cuban cultural exchange.

From their site - 'CultuCuba is an organization founded by Manuel Suarez with the primary objective of promoting Cuban culture and developing relationships with other societies of the world. Through this multicultural institution, CultuCuba not only strives to promote Cuban traditions, but also all other traditions that participate in these cultural exchanges.'

http://www.cultucuba.org/cultura.htm

Saturday 4/4, 8pm - 12am
2277 International Blvd, Oakland at 23rd
$10 advance, $12 at the door.

I bet you can hit Holly's show at La Pena, and be out in time to catch this event as well!

Tony

Las Bomeras de la Bahia - at La Pena 4/4




A friend of mine and talented musician Holly Schneider (center) is gigging with Las Bomberas de la Bahia and La Colectiva at La Pena Cultural Center, Sat 4/4.



http://www.lapena.org/event/1053

If you love music from Puerto Rico, you're gonna love this show. And if you love Cumbia, La Colectiva rocks!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Hadley's Party


Once again Hadley had the fattest party, really fun, and thankfully, we were invited to join him in the celebration.

Its really nice to be welcomed to represent the Rumba community, at this multicultural party packed with talented musicians.

Hadley is a true character, i just love his sense of independent thinking. He has figured out a way to not fall into the trappings of modern life, and really enjoys the down to earth basics: Gardening, cooking, and playing music....

His garden is beautifully in bloom, and he is a very talented horticulturalist. He always has cutting and seeds to share! He's too cool.... and we are happy to report... he is happily hooked up! So nice to see him and his gal love birding. She is really nice, and they seem just right for each other.. how cool.

He is a trained lawyer, but decided to be a musician and educator long ago, how cool is that! He is very socially conscious, proactively involved in the community, and plays many instruments very well. He is the only piano player i know with conga chops!

http://www.musictocelebratelife.com/

You can contact him through his website, if you are looking for his CD, or looking to book one of his projects. He has a latin jazz group called Los Bros and a Caribbean group called Marimba Pacifica (pictured below). He also has a Samba troupe that performs at Carnival in SF annually.

Anyway, this year was too fun. The weather was sunny and crisp. Hadley made a turkey for everyone, tapped a pony of good ale, and the pot luck was ON!

Irish Rick and i joined Hadley in an early Yambu Mantancero on the top deck. You can look out over the bay and enjoy the SF skyline, as the sun warms your spirits. Its such a nice place to play, that top deck, we almost always have a comfortable jam up there.

These parties are so fun, as Hadley knows musicians from several different traditions. There is often Ewe, Rumba, Ska jams, Latin Jazz, Samba, you name it.

There seems to be multiple simultaneous jams every time he has a party, and there are four separate places to play.

Last year, i played Hadley's huge Marimba for hours with some fat ska players in the back studio. Hadley built this big ass Marimba, keys the size of snow shoes. You can see it in the back ground of this picture of one of Hadley's gigs. It makes you feel small, playing such a big set, and the bass tones rock! - Tumbao heaven! Who needs a bass player, the Tumbaos come from a Marimula any way! Too fun.... It was worth the blisters! (not used to using huge mallets for hours!)





...This year was attended by many musicians, including several rumberos - Yaya Maldonado, Ricky Agular, Hector Lugo, Javier Navarrette, Mike Green, Trevino Leon, Irish Rick, Rich Taylor, and a few other cats. We played rumba till nightfall, then went inside for the latin Jazz jam in the front room till late. So fun!

Thanks Hadley, looking forward to see what you put together for Carnival this year.

(video is of last years party - Yaya, Rick Agular, Colin Douglass and Chris 'flaco' Walker, in this short clip)

Tony

Sandy Perez Y Su Lade at Bollywood - report ON FIRE!





I wonder how many posts i start with Wow, but here's another...

Wow,

Sandy and his cats ripped a hole in the roof of Bollywood Saturday night. The small club and late start had this performance set for a short, but furious show.

The cats on the bill - Sandy Perez, Mejail La Brada, Rosita Villamil, the Diaz brothers - Orlando and Juan, Jose Francisco Barroso, Manual Suarez, Colin Douglass, Toby Gaster and Matt Lucas.

The audience included many dancers from SF, and many people who either stumbled upon the gig, or were regulars of Bollywood or something.. as many of them were young and unfamiliar to me. I bet they were blown away by what they saw this night.

I often wonder, when people stumble onto these gigs, what they must think, seeing this amazing culture performed live by the best, and viewed with fresh eyes unfamiliar to Cuban folklorico. They must be tripped out, like watching a freak show! These guys are freaks of nature, for sure... stunningly talented and unabashed.

Click here to buy this CD

So on that part of the mission, parking is nearly impossible, unless you wanted to kick down $20. It was raining, and SF was tucked in by a thick blanket of dark clouds. In classic Cuban style, the show was to start at 9, and the first set began at 10:30! I have to remind myself that we are working on Havana mean time! Us clueless white boys show up at 8, and sit on our hands waiting for hours staring at the empty dance floor... guess we must like it... i cant get myself to show to a gig late. Ill have to work on it.




Its so funny, the cubans play their rumba AHEAD of the time, but they always show up way after! ;)

Anyway, the first set started with a rapid fire rhythm based on a Santerian toque, played on congas by three players. Sandy came out of the gate on fire. He jumped all over his set, hitting his tubs so hard his glasses almost flew off!

Irish Rick and myself were commenting afterward.. we know of no one other than Sandy who can hit the drums that hard, for that long, without ripping their chops to shreds... he has hands of steel.


It reminds me of the Asian kick boxers, who whack their shins with inch thick hardwood sticks to strengthen them for battle. I could just see the first guy to teach that technique... here man, here is your stick, there is your leg, go at it!.. yea right! ;)




Speaking of discipline, I had a chance to talk with Colin, one of the nicest and heaviest of players around. He has equally impressive stick and conga chops, is a berkeley school of music grad, i believe, and is simply the fastest learner of the tradition in this area. Colin, in a relatively short period of time, worked his way through all three Bata, singing naturally all the way. He's up on a bunch of other Cuban folkloric traditions... all while being one of, if not the most saught after latin trap drummers on the Salsa scene. I am a big fan of Colin, he is so humble and talented. He is as cool as ice when he performs - so comfortable. I can see why he is in such demand.



Colin is teaching music to kids, and has a nice solid thing going as an instructor. He mentioned that most of his gigs are kit gigs these days, that there are just too many solid congeros in the area, and not enough latin projects to go around. Colin has serious chops on the congas... very very clean technique. He has incredibly nice flat handed slaps, a great technique that few can pull off, as its not as easy to get a slap out of it.

Im just glad im in the wine country, and dont have to compete with these cats for gigs! Id be playing on the streets for change!... not like thats a bad thing.. ;)

Anyway, back to the show...

the set rocketed forward and turned into a complete frenzy, when Rosita, one of the wildest performers Ive witnessed, jumps into the dancing and screaming crowd singing at the top of her lungs, dancing wildly... the crowd completely going off! It was a wild scene.




I had the view from behind the performers, as i was doing sound.... which is a big challenge for these shows, simply due to the love the singers have for hot mics. I was sailing the line, just under feeding back, to keep the mics cranked to cover the drums in this small space... its was a task... The stage is built back in a nook, so all the sound bounces off the walls from several directions with one of the PA's set up back behind everyone.. feedback city. Anyway, it was not the ideal situation, but we got through the gig without any noticeable feedback issues, eventhough the singers were frustrated, as i had to turn down the coro a bit.

Sandy tried to slow things down for a tune, but it quickly turned into a rapid fire, full-on sprint to the end of the first set. Toby and Matt were going off and machine like in their precision. At one point, one of them was making this incredible cracking slap... i had to go out front to see who it was.. Toby.. slap happy clap trapping... he was ripping it.





So, after a long break between sets, we were having so much fun hanging out no-one wanted to stop partying... so, the second set started at 1am.

It was as ripping as the first set, and the dancers from the audience seemed to stand and watch in amazement, as if it was a train moving too fast to board.

Barroso and Rosita danced wildly, charged by the rum fueled, high speed set. The crowd was loving it, and tightly packed the floor, dancing with their arms in the air. By the end of the blazing set, the place was a humid as a nightclub in Havana.

Yet another crazy show.... Few things can bring you the kind of freedom these shows provide. They so fully encompass you with the experience, its impossible to think of anything but having a great time.

So, we packed up and headed over to Matt's place for an early morning cap, then headed home.

Making it home by 4, I was planning on crashing as soon as I got in the door, but the house was freezing, so I built a fire in the wood stove.

I crashed on the couch next to the fire and was dreaming of the night's events, when... I smell fire... shit man, wake up!

I got up, turned on the light and realized the house was packed with smoke! I quickly woke everyone up, opened all the windows/doors.

The wood stove had ignited the creosote on the stove pipe, and i had a serious problem on my hands, with the temperature of the stove pipe topping 600 and climbing... 911!!!

In 5 minutes, the fire trucks came, lights and sirens blazing - firemen charging in with full gear, masks, tanks, etc.

They got on the roof and hosed the chimney from the top, putting out the fire in a rather clean way... Thanks guys! no water damage to speak of, very cool, as there are old school hardwood floors in the living room.




Funny thing was, after they put out the fire, it started to snow outside! It never snows in this area - hardly ever... so i say to the firemen.. hey guys, look, its snowing...

They look at each other an laugh... aa man, that's funny.. no, that's just ash falling, sir (read: dumbass!), they say to me...

.. I look again.. no man, that's Snow! I was born in Utah, I know my snow! Sure enough, it was snowing... while the fire raged, we went out side to look at the snow... funny. If it dumped hard enough, who knows, the fireman may have gone and done snow angles in the front lawn!

Anyway, Im just so glad no one was hurt.

Moral of the story - clean your stove pipe every year, as this was only a couple of years buildup of creosote! We moved in about a year ago, and were told it had been cleaned. I always burn hardwood in the stove, as its so much cleaner to burn. But the people in the past must have been burning soft sappy wood, apparently..

anyway... it was a powerful night, in many respects, and on two hours sleep, I was on my way to another session - Hadley's solstice party, which is something i greatly enjoy twice a year, at minimum. I was feeling fortunate to make it, this year. - see the next post about the party.

Tony

PS. I wanted to let you all know, that I unfortunately have had several cameras quit on me, and Ive lost other recording gear just recently. So, i appreciate your patience with my phone videos and pictures for the time being. (this was the only shot of the night that made it back to my place, it was shot when the house lights went off, for some reason. I was doing sound, and dont usually film from there, of course, but it was all dark at that point, so i snuck one in.. ;)



Friday, March 20, 2009

Salsa Rueda Festival - Backing up Barroso



The last minute, we were called in on a gig in the city, los Pilones Blancos to the rescue!

Barroso was doing a rumba demonstration at the big Salsa Rueda festival in the city, and needed live drummers, as promised on the bill.

We barely got there in time, and we started as soon as we found a seat.



There was a large studio packed with about 70 dancers or so ready to go.




Barroso is a remarkable talent, and was trained at some of the most prestigious schools in Havana. Its such an honor to work with him.

So, he did his thing, teaching rumba moves from the streets, asking us to jump in whenever he demonstrated, and it went well. The dancers gave the drummers a big hand, and Barroso was very happy with us.

He has the fattest dance video of Folkloric Cuban material around. Im working on the steps as we speak!


One of the Videos is of Barroso singing at La Pena, with Sandy Perez, Pili Martinez, and myself on congas.

the second film is my favorite small clip of Barroso, what a talent!

You gotta love it!

Tony

Gon Bops restoration circa '73 Mahogany for Hans






















This restoration came in as a referral from the legendary Akbar Moghaddam, of Valje, Gon Bops and Sol fame. I feel honored to have his recommendation, and it means the world to me. I greatly respect his work, of course, and he is a true master of his craft. I still think Sol are some of the best congas ever built, up there with history's best. And that was all Akbar, if Im not mistaken.

What an incredible finish on those drums.. if you've ever had the pleasure of seeing them up close. The clean addition of the inlaid bottom band so it can be made from flat stock, the wood selection of uniform quarter sawn oak as close to continuous grain as he could get, the clean, strong, low profile crown that is now the best crown on the market, used on high end modern gon bops... this cat must have really loved his work, they were so refined.

I've never seen a crack on a Sol conga, and none have come into my shop for repair or reskinning. I repaired one set of Sol Bongo once, but it was a small crack on the stave line, quick invisible fix.

Akbar and I haven't met, as of yet, but Im sure we will one of these days.

..conga ramble... i guess thats the point of the blog...

anyway.. Akbar recommended me to Hans, a student of the congas who lives in the south bay. He has a vintage set of Gon Bops congas from 1973, quinto and conga. They had the same hardware, but the shells were different, and they seemed like a mix and match set.

I say that because the quinto was totally bleached, as though it had been in a sunny window its whole life. It had several cracks in it, and needed a new skin, and Hans wanted me to make the bearing edge a bit nicer on the hands. The stock bearing edge sucked, and did nothing for the sound, in my opinion. The conga already had a very nice bearing edge.


The conga was a sweet 11.5, with sidecuts inside, thicker shell, and a sweet stock skin that still had life, surprisingly. Perhaps it was replaced by a gon bops head when it was refinished, as you can see the stamp on the head. looks like the skins they used in the 80's

So, Hans wanted the set to come out clean and matching, so we refinished them both. I think it was a great choice, as they look like they were meant for each other... conga love, at last...

The set has the smooth bands, which polish up so nicely. They pop, against the dark Mahogany finish.

The sideplates were more tarnished than the crown. differing quality of plating, seemed like.. they polished up ok.

This is one sweet set, and I hope they stay that way for a long time to come. This wood is so brittle, the only reason it was chosen, is its great sound. They seem to have about a 30-40 year life span, for the most part.


I guess thats not that bad, considering a car is worthless in about 20, these days! ;)




Enjoy the set Hans,

Tony