CongaDr+ Tony's Conga Adventures: La Pena Rumba 4/09 - Violin with Mejail La Brada

Monday, April 6, 2009

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La Pena Rumba 4/09 - Violin with Mejail La Brada





The sessions roll on, and the rumba was in full swing this sunny spring Sunday.

After some lazy Californian Rumba, of the non-cuban variety, the heavies came out to play.

After some time in hiding, Yagbe Oline came out to sing and play.. nice to see the Maestro out on the town, and back in the loop.

Pili Martinez, Chris Flaco Walker, Yaya Maldonado, and a few others laid down some fat rumba - smiles on their faces, ripping it up for us all.

Carlos Aldama and his wife came by to join in the fun. It was so nice to see the two of them.. they look great together, with bright smiles, confident and kind.. such great people.



Carlos sat down and played quinto for us.. so blessed to see him play, once again. Thanks, Chango l'ade for the picture!!





(yes the camera on my phone sucks.. i have yet to pick up a new camera..)

At one point, I was playing tumba, with Pili playing second and Yagbe singing.

Somehow the groove wasnt developing and Pili looks to me and says.. 'push it!' Yea, i wasnt having a very good day, and it was probably me.. but the europeans are the first ones to get called out, even though it is often other players who are not holding their parts.

I kick it into high gear, pushing the feel... the cata was lagging, and its just wasn't working.. so, this cat from Cuba, a dancer, asks to play the drum, so i stand up and let him play, like.. go for it man, good luck with it...




What's the deal with Cuban dancers thinking they can play.. just dance man, let the players play. He is such a great dancer. Next time, i wont be so quick to give up the drum.

Yaya gave me a 'talking to' last week regarding me giving up the drum to singers and dancers... 'just play man, you play beter than most of them, dont let them bump you off'

Im fine with being replaced if Im not making it happen.. take the drum, cool with me.. ...take it if you can play it..



After the session at La Pena, Mejail La Brada, the heavy singer and rumbero from Havana, asked Irish Rick and myself to join him at a ceremony in Richmond.


It was a Violin for Oshun, a ceremony where violin is played to the orishas... a very cool experience to witness.

We played after the violin, and pumped out some Rumba at break neck speed, while the house rocked in celebration.

Sr. La Brada, or Miggy, as i call him, has such nice people in his family. We are so lucky to have him as a dear friend. We were welcomed as brothers, and fed like kings!

The menu was half Cuban, half Mexican - screaming Carnitas and hand made tortillas!! Thanks for the wonderful grub and the loving hospitality!

Anyway, its always fun to work these gigs, as i feel like we are directly contributing to the tradition.. Its so cool to be a player in this setting.. it feels like the Orishas are backing you up with fat Coro!

So, somehow, the rumbas at La Pena are not as powerful, as far as learning.. i just need to enjoy the time, and look at it like the fun time it is.

Ive been in such a 'work' mode there, working hard to understand and perform this incredible music. As for now, i simply need to woodshed, and continue to work on the songs.. playing clave/cata and singing.. I have a feeling this next year may bring some fat new chops.

Sometimes it seems as though we are wondering aimlessly through the expanse of this tradition, learning bits and pieces that seem random... then something happens to remind you... its all seeping in and all the work will pay off, in some fat realization to come.

Tony