CongaDr+ Tony's Conga Adventures: Rumba at Sweets ballroom every Sunday!! THE All-Star linup

Monday, January 4, 2010

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Rumba at Sweets ballroom every Sunday!! THE All-Star linup

Wow. We are either extremely lucky, or truly blessed.. Either way, im so stoked to report:

Every single Sunday: Jesus Diaz, Sandy Perez, Mejail la Brada, Erik Barbaria, and Rosita Perez will completely rip a whole in the roof of Sweets Balloom in down town Oakland.

From the bill - 'Live Rumba! 7pm to 11pm every Sunday at Sweet's Ballroom, 1933 Broadway in Oakland at 19th St. Jesus Diaz, Erick Barberia, Sandy Perez etal will be raising the roof with their drumming and singing. Only $5.' It actually said $10, but they were charging $5 a the door.

So, the first two sessions were incredibly fat. If this is the start, I hate to see what they pull off next, it might raise the bar to an uncomfortable height.

Uncomfortable for all of us wannabes sitting in awe of these cats.

A powerful and fat couple of sets, they play in this huge hall of a venue. Like a basketball gym with a stage on one side. The acoustics are quite bad, with the wood floor and all. If it wasn't for the talent, the sound wouldn't work.

Its just hard to fill up the place.. 40 or so people on a Sunday night.. not bad, but the place looks empty. Its chilly, this time of year, so bring a coat. (I'm hearing the laughter from the east coast!)

But be prepared to be blown away!

Jesus has an All Star lineup. Small and tight, with absolutely no chance of anything less than amazing.

Jesus has Sandy playing the supporting rhythms of a classic Rumba by himself, for the most part, and Jesus plays Quinto - dropping fat Bajo kicks and such, singing all the while.

Sandy displays his complete mastery of Rumba, paying ultimate respect while completely going off on a bajo cajon and two tumbadoras. He is simply incredible how he plays with Rumba, like a sculptor with clay.

The rest of us are happy to just make a lump of clay... Sandy's just getting started.

Jesus, the organizer of this is extremely talented, and I am just now becoming aware of just how good he is. Its incredible.. how many talented people we have among us here.

I have to find out who taught Jesus, or who he hung out with in Cuba. Im embarrassed not to know, actually. But we will find out.

Anyway, back to the setup..

The front line is comprised of three complete bad asses, if i may say.

Mejail La Brada.. what a talent.. this cat is Rumba. Mejail has an incredible sounding voice that screams 'Havana'. The cat knows the street sound.. that unbelievably engaging and vibrant culture of pure joy, in the most difficult of circumstances. It comes through loud and clear in Mejail's voice. I feel so blessed to actually get to perform with him regularly. It's unbelievable to me.

Anyway... back to the front line..

next up.. Erik Barbaria.. super heavy singer, dancer and percussionist. Such a gracious person and very studious about his approach. Deadly serious about the exactness of the tradition, with uncommon lightheartedness. He seems wicked smart.. an academician, with the most comfortable performing style. Like he was born on stage.

Last but not least by any means.. The one and only, Rosita Perez. A complete ball of fire.

Rosita is Sandy's cousin from Matanzas. She is one of those people who has a direct phone line with the Orishas. Like a red phone in the oval office. She just dials it up, like her ancestors are at her fingertips. She has the coolest voice.. right out of the past.. so specifically Rumba.

All of these very talented musicians have tons of performance experience, so Its really fun to see them in such an intimate, if not cozy setting.

All in all.. just about the best Rumba in the country.... Like we have our own Rumba house... who knows.. that may be what comes of it.

How fortunate to see them every week. Its so dang cool. For someone studying the music in the states, you cant get any better than this.

Do tell everyone you know. This is way too cool not to survive.


  1. I'd say extremely luck AND truly blessed. Best of luck to the show, hope it keeps going on and on.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Sad to say,

    Canceled until further notice...

  4. I took some group lessons with Sandy Perez maybe 10 years ago or more here in Seattle and had trouble playing the segundo part of a rumba guaguanco while he was playing quinto - I just had to not listen to what he was doing but it was mind blowing. Wish this group would migrate to Seattle!


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