CongaDr+ Tony's Conga Adventures: Enrique Carerras Benifit at La Pena 2/09

Friday, March 20, 2009

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Enrique Carerras Benifit at La Pena 2/09

Well well well,

This event, put together by yours truly, was one incredible show. Enrique, his family and I are eternally grateful to all those who donated their talents to make this event completely ROCK!

The bill included John Santos, Sandy Perez, Fito Reinoso, Tito Gonzales, Yaya Maldonado, Chris Flaco Walker, Carlito Madriaga, Pili Martinez, Rosita Villamil, Hector Lugo and his bomba troupe son boriqua, Francisco Barroso, Morgan Simon, Javier Navarette, Orlando Diaz, Coto Pinchiera, Saul Sierra, and myself. (pictures are of all the people who performed, but not taken at the show)

...did i leave anyone out?? geezz.. the only cats who didn't make it, were out of town.

it was like a three ring circus, as we had Folklorico, Rumba, Bomba and Salsa on the list, dancers, with 5 set changes... too fun.

It was an action packed show, and even though we had no rehearsals. Surprisingly, even the veteran musicians in the audience couldn't tell.. these guys are so incredibly talented.. they make it look so easy.

The show, for me, was stressful, at best, as all the musicians were not confirmed until the last minute, making the promotion difficult. To top it off, it was raining perros y gatos, and the house insisted we start early! ug!!

It was crazy back stage, as I had to quickly inform everyone what they would be playing, in a loose format, anyway.

All these cats are so cool.. we huddled together, they listened to the proposed set list, nodded, smiled in a relaxed way.. sure man, that sounds great... lets do it...

I cant tell you how difficult it is to pull off a show like this without rehearsals, in an almost flawless way. These people are some of the most amazing people i have ever met, in any walk of life.

- a side thought - ... I was watching a clip of David Gergen, a political heavy who used to work in the whitehouse. He was talking about a day when he flew to Italy to have lunch with the Pope, and then to London to have dinner with the Queen... he was saying that that night, he sat back in awe of how incredible his day was, truly incredible.

I have to say, I feel that way often, incredibly. Sometime I sit back at night and feel like it must be a dream. I know how Gergen felt. Awe is a great word for it.

It must be the feeling a rich man has, when others talk dreamingly about having wealth.. he just sits back and says... yea, im rich, and im stoked not to be poor. That the way I feel about being a part of this tradition, I feel so blessed and so wealthy.


The first set included a beautiful bata tribute to Enrique, which included John Santos, Sandy Perez, and Chris 'flaco' Walker. I was only able to partially see it, as i was back stage working things out for the next round. I was told it was graceful and sweet.

Both of my cameras got wet that night, and haven't worked since! Even though I got most of the show on tape, I haven't been able to view the tapes! I only caught about half of the show from the wings... man, now thats sacrifice!! ;)

Thankfully, the MC for the night, Theo, taped it. I'm working on getting a copy from him.

So, after the cats played Bata, Fito sang a Palo for Enrique, and it was played traditionally on Cajons, by Sandy, Pili Martinez and Chris Walker. It was great to play traditional rhythms for those who have passed, for our dear brother Enrique and his family.

Then the show transitioned into a Rumba for the remainder of the first set, starting with a Yambu Mantancero, a Guguanco Havanero, and a blazing Columbia.. Barroso, Rosita, Sandy and Morgan Simon danced rumba to a greatly appreciative crowd, which by that time had filled the entire house and defied the rain with enthusiastic applause.

The first set went so well, I was thinking most of the work was over for me, and I could sit back and enjoy the second set.. yea right!

The second set was to begin with Hector Lugo and his Bomba troupe, but after a 20 minute break, they were missing some people and were not ready to go on. It was due to the early start, set us early into the second set, not Hectors fault, of course.

The house was tripping, and it seemed they had not put on a show before. I had to calm them down several times, promise repeatedly that we would be out of the house on time so they could go home, or wherever.

So, after a bit, we had Hector's troupe all together and they hit the stage in full costume, played three ripping Bombas that were simply Awesome! How cool is Hectors group of dancers?! The percussion section included Javier Navarette, the air aparent to Santos' "bay area's most valuable latin player" throne.

Hector's troupe rocked the house, and the dancers went off! - the crowd's screams of appreciation clearly heard back stage.

Hector is recording a new project including several very talented players from the bay... details to come.

After the fitting Bomba tribute (Enrique was Puerto Rican), Fito, Coto, Saul, and Santos hit the stage for a couple of salsa tunes. Tito Gonzales joined them for the last tune. Everyone got up and danced in gleeful celebration.. it was perfect. The set ripped, and the packed house was loving it!

At the end of the show, unbelievably, the lame sound guy actually cut off the mic's so we could not play an encore, even though the crowd was on their feet chanting 'otra, otra!'..

if you want to only hear the fun thigs about this show, skip to the end..

Buy the CD

as i have to say,

In all my years of seeing shows, literally hundreds of them, this was the first time i have ever seen mics cut to end a show! The sound guy was a real amateur, not to mention generally unpleasant. He will not be working any show i produce in the future, no doubt. Unbelievably, this cat cut the mics off a full half an hour before we were to vacate the venue, while I had no less than John Santos, Fito Reinoso, Tito Gonzalez and Sandy Perez on stage. How embarrassing for la Pena!

Anyway, all in all, it was a great show, any hickups were hardly noticed by the audience - experienced musicians who saw the show found it hard to believe we didn't rehearse!

Enrique's family was so grateful. It was so cool to be able to honor Enrique in this way, while making a little money for his family. Let me thank all of you for Enrique... all the word class talent who donated their time to make this project a fat success! You are truly selfless and honorable. Thank you for all who came to see the show, in such nasty weather, I promise an encore next time!

I feel blessed to have known Enrique, and i am so fortunate to be able to help all the brothers honor our dear friend. You would have loved the show Enrique, we had an empty cajon waiting for you. We'll miss you, and you will be in our hearts for a very long time to come. It was sure a fun way to say our sad goodbuys. That one was for you, my brother.

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