CongaDr+ Tony's Conga Adventures: 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sandy Perez Y Su Lade at La Pena January 18th

Check out Sandy Perez's new project - an amazing tradition of folkloric song and dance from Matanzas Cuba will be performed at La Pena Cultural Center in Oakland on January the 18th. There are few masters in the world who have such knowledge and talent. If you've seen him before, you know how amazing the performance is. If its your first time to witness his performance, hold on to your hats... you wont believe your ears.

Details to come...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Pellejo Seco 12/20 Cuban hurricane relief concert!

Bring you're favorite dancing shoes, and a few friendlies and hit the benefit Concert
for Hurricane Relief in Cuba
with Cuban Son Fusion band,
Pellejo Seco at the Brava Theater in SF.

Hurricane Relief for Disarm Education Fund
Co-Produced by Brava Theater Center

Saturday, December 20, 8pm
$18 adv. | $20 door
Brava Theater Center, San Francisco
2789 - 24th Street @ York

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

John Santos' new CD - With Enrique Carreras!!


Buy the CD

Exciting and masterful Afro-Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Venezuelan folkloric and contemporary drumming and song featuring original and traditional rumbas as well as rhythms and chants from the Congolese and Yoruba spiritual traditions.

Juan De Diós Ramos Carlos Aldama Orestes Vilató Giovanni Hidalgo Sandy Perez Anthony Carrillo Harold Muñíz Roberto Borrell Jesus Diaz Raul Rekow Jose Clausell Jimmy Bosch Elio Villafranca Quique Dávila Eddie Resto Marta Galarraga Gustavo Ovalles David Belove Camilo Landau Iluminado Maldonado Michael Spiro Javier Navarrette Saul Sierra Chris Walker Enrique Carreras Fito Reinoso Beatríz Godinez-Muñíz Jose Luís Gómez Willie Ludwig Barbara Valladares Ismael Rodriguez Reynalda Nuñez Manny Martinez Carol Steele Elena Pinderhughes Samora Pinderhughes

Skin on skin congas in business and making fine drums

In case there is any question, Jay Bereck is making and selling drums again. He is in full swing and has a three month turnaround.

The pic above is of a set made by Jay, for Francisco Aguabella. check out the bungy cord to keep the quinto steady without using your legs so much... interesting.

Geordie (bongosnotbombs) checked in to confirm that Jay's work is $750 a conga, and $400 for bongo, about the same as other high end custom makers of the drums, Matt Smith for example. They are actually very reasonable prices, for what you are getting - the best of the best.

Jay's drums are spectacular, and highly recommended. There is a set listed in SF on Craigslist, but the price is higher than Jay would charge you for a new set with better hardware, fyi. The black hardware is not nearly as nice as the stainless he usually uses.

Maestro Jay Bereck - Skin on skin drums
1618 State Highway 41
Afton, NY 13730
Phone: (607) 639-2417

Hope that helps,


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ok, now what were you complaining about?

Just in case you wannabe congeros out there were struggling with your slaps... i thought this might help... you switch to the guitar perhaps! ;)

kidding, kidding... keep at it, it'll come.


Gema and Pavel with John Santos Nov 22nd

Here is a local Cuban combo, a strong front duo who has many a heavy backing them up. They will be performing with John Santos this Saturday at 8 :

Women's Building
3543 18th St.
San Francisco, CA 94110

Im not sure where the men are supposed to go, but it should be a good show anyhow ;)

Check out the gig with the Terry brothers, i believe. What a ripping solo!

click here to buy this cd

Monday, November 17, 2008

Enrique Carreras' public viewing and memorial service

here are the details about the services for Enrique.. hope you can all come to show your respect, or send those who can.

the viewing is going to be at the Coopers Chapel located at 1580 Fruitvale in Oakland from 5-7 on Wednesday the 19th, and his funeral service is the next day (20th) at the Christian Cathedral Church - 2433 Coolage Ave at 11am.

hope to see you there,


Rumba for Enrique - the most incredible scene!

Wow wow wow...

once in a while i start a post like that... and this is by far the fattest rumba i have witnessed at La Pena, and it was beyond my wildest imagination of how this tribute would go down.

Every heavy, i mean virtually every single significant player of rumba from San Jose to Santa Rosa who was in town came to honor Enrique. It was incredible. totally packed with dancers, players, those from the religious community.. fans of the music.. they all came out to represent.

We played way past the usual cutoff time, and the rumba screamed into the dusk.

Carlos Aldama, Sandy Perez, Jesus Diaz, John Santos, Chris 'flaco' Walker, Fito Reinoso, Yaya Maldonado, Javier Navarrette, Yagbe Oline, Francisco Barroso and a huge cast of rumberos graced the stage for over four hours.. pumping the fattest public rumba i have seen in these parts.

At one point Carlos played the living daylights out of the quinto to a sweet Columbia.... what an honor to witness.

The Coro was absolutely huge! Thunderous.... almost drowning out the drums at times... so Fat!

Everyone was so kind, and warm... Enrique would have been proud of us.

Enrique's family was there - his brother, also named Enrique, but we call him Nestor, came out from NY to help Michelle and family organize the funeral and the associated festivities.

Enrique and Nestor were as close as bothers could be. They both have such golden hearts.. kind, loving, warm and egoless. Im sure the qualities we all enjoyed in Enrique were formed hanging with Nestor as a young man... He is such a sweetheart, and its not easy to feel even a small part of his pain.

Enrique, with huge influence, was a relatively small part of our lives compared to growing up with the man, for example. With the impact he made on us as a friend, I couldn't imagine how much i would miss him if he was a part of my every day life. He was a absolutely huge presence, in his quiet and respectful way.

Enrique's young son, Julian, played cata for hours... on just about anything or anyone... at the age of 14 months... we will keep him up to speed, that is for sure. I have to smile when i think that Enrique started a family in his 60's.. too cool. Yea, it would have been ideal for him to live forever.. but Julian will know his father well, we'll make sure of that - he is one lucky cat to have the old man's blood flowing in his veins. Michelle is about the best mother that nature can produce.. and im sure they will be more than loved and will grow to be kind and respectful like their father, no doubt.

At one point, all the heavy kids, as i call them... Barroso's, Jesus', Vladamir's and Sandy's kids were playing outside on the newspaper machines and dancing hip-hop like you could not imagine. It was succinctly poignant to see the next generation cutting it up for Enrique, without even realizing it... so cool. A large group of rumberos circled them, throwing dollar bills, laughing and cheering... this is what we have to look forward to in our old age... watching these young cats cut it up. How lucky are we?

It was a call from Rustin, later that night, that reminded me... we are such a tight and supportive community, like few people in the modern industrial world enjoy. It is sacred to us and we are more than lucky to be a part of it. To me, for some reason, this is quite unexpected and an amazing bi-product of the direction the Orishas have for me. - guess they knew that.. Enrique will be one of my guiding spirits, so fortunately, and has taken us by the hand to travel down a beautiful and familiar path.

The services are on Wednesday and Thursday.. Ill post details soon - hope you all can make it out.

So, it looks like we will be holding a tribute show, at La Pena probably, and it will include an unbelievable line-up, more than likely. The show will be a couple of months out, so we can promote it correctly. Of course, we'll keep you informed on the details as they develop.

Love, as Enrique taught us,


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Eddie Palmieri in Oakland 'titans of trombone'

Eddie is back in town.. not sure who he has with him, as far as a rhythm section, but he always has the cream of the crop..

Check out this flier... i had to laugh...

Titans of "Trombon" ... i think thats trombonE.... funny... I bet the gig will most likely be no less than Titanic with that line up, actually, ... or didnt that ship end up sinking...

Anyway, these cats can play the bone, or the bon, as it were. Bosch is quite a performer, and has amazing energy as a soloist. That should also be a good show.

click here to buy this cd

My eldest brother is a trombone player in the jazz tradition, so ive always appreciated the instrument when it is played well. (as opposed to the endless practice scales i was subjected to as a kid ;) thanks Mop! )

Thanks DJ Waltdigz! You da man!

Too much fun,

It wasn't till early this morning that the hit was on.

As is typical of many a salsa club around the world, this party didn't start till 11 or so. I always find this strange in the states, with the 2:00 alcohol cutoff and all. Not much time to get your groove on.

It was so nice of Walter, the spinning magician, to donate the proceeds to Enrique and his family. More than cool.

When we finally hit the stage, early this morning, it was Sandy Perez, Jesus Diaz, Pailito, Frank, Alisha, Alison (welcome back!), Joe and myself. Always too much fun to perform with Sandy and company.

We had some pfat dancers, Manuel from the studio on 54th, Alisha of , Alian (pictured with Machete), and several other Cuban cats - they ripped it up for the crowd of bailarines... they were loving it.

Jelly's is a groovy club, out in the warehouse district next to Pac Bell park, or whatever they call it these days.

Its right on the water, and has an outdoor patio to hang and dance

It was so nice to get this rumba together for Walter, we almost didn't make it happen, as most of the cats were out of town, or gigging last night.

The late start worked well, as i had time to attend a hit at Yaya's place, playing bata and singing till 10 or so. That was too fun. He and his friends are so chill, those brothers.. its relaxing to be around them.

So, it looks like we made a few handfuls of duckets for familia Carreras. That should help a bit.... the first of several fundraisers for them.

Next up, a hat passing at the La Pena Rumba this Sunday. We will be talking about what we would all like to do in the near future, to honor Enrique's life and the nurturing paternity he gave to all of us. A big benefit show looks more than doable.

See you there,


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Jelly's Fundraiser for Enriques familiy - Rumba/Timba Tomorrow, 11/14, 10pm

We are having a fundraiser and a Rumba for Enrique and his family tomorrow night at Jelly's.

One of Enrique's good friends and super phat DJ WaltDigz is so kind to donate 100% of the proceeds to Enrique's family.

Sandy Perez, Mejail LaBrada, will be there along with many of the top Rumbero's in the bay area. It should be quite a scene.

$10 a person, but if you have duckets to share, bring a few extra so we can help Enrique's beautiful young family in this difficult time.

Come and dance, smile and laugh, as Enrique would have it. Time to rip it up for him.

Hope to see you all there, and please forward this to as many people as you can.



Info on Walter, the Timba spinning magician:

Dj WaltDigz is a veteran dj and music collector from the San Francisco Bay Area. He's had the pleasure of playing a variety of music (Hip Hop,Soul, Salsa,Timba and Reggaeton) at many popular clubs and concerts around the Bay and across the country.

Dj WaltDigz is a veteran dj and music collector from the San Francisco Bay Area. He's had the pleasure of playing a variety of music (Hip Hop, Soul, Salsa,Timba and Reggaeton) at many popular clubs and concerts around the Bay and across the country. If you're ever in the San Francisco Bay Area you can catch WaltDigz every last Friday of the month at IL Pirata, Little Baobab every Wednesday and Jelly's pier 50 on alternate Sundays. For more info please visit or

Check out his radio station:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Goodbye dear friend, safe travels - Enrique Carreras has passed

The saddest of news this morning...

Our dear friend and patriarch of the Rumba scene in the bay area has passed away.

Enrique Carreras, one of the nicest and kind people you will ever meet, and one serious Rumbero, will be a part of all of us - in our minds, in our harts, in our ethics.... His impact is more than significant to all of us. His quiet, solid and loving leadership was one of the most dependable facets of the bay area scene. He was a very talented player as well.

He was surrounded by family and passed without suffering.

This is the cat i will miss the most, of all the bothers in the tradition who have left us. He was, without question, one of the nicest cats i have ever known.

Enrique was one of those rare people, who's smile and kind hearted warmth was stronger than iron. He never got caught up in the drama or politics, like most of us. He always had kind and supportive words for us, no matter what was going on.

A few years ago, Irish Rick and myself were rookies to the scene. Being Europeans, it is not the easiest of traditions to adopt, as it is well protected by those who love and live it.

It was Enrique, who, with a kind smile and a loving hand on my back, kept me working and dreaming... 'just keep at it man, you'll be fine. You belong here. Dont let anyone tell you otherwise.' he once said to me. Enrique was truly colorblind - he saw in us, what he saw in himself - someone who loves life enough to take risks and follow their dreams.

He was so gracious, so talented, and such a nice cat. One serious Cajon maker to boot!

We will miss him more than is healthy.

We are taking up a collection for his young family - his wife and their beautiful kids. We are thinking of putting together a benefit show, but as for now, we are passing the hat around.

If anyone wants to contribute to this wonderful man's family, to help with funeral expenses etc. email me at, or talk to Art at the La Pena Rumbas.

Love you so Enrique, take care of us, so sad to see you go,

Your brother,


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Nice New Radio feature on the blog

Check out the small search bar on the right just under the world map...

its a radio search, simply type in what you want to listen to... "Puntilla" or "afrocuba" for example, or whomever you want to hear, and hit return.

Walla, tunes for you...

If you want to turn it off, if you want to watch a video or something, just do a blank search or go to another page (ie follow the link to the post you are reading, for example). It will only play when you are on the same page, so i recommend doing a wide search with several posts, or the main page, when listening to the radio.

Have fun,


Monday, November 10, 2008

End of season tally on the garden - bragging opportunity

Well, the summer has come to a close, and its time to plant the winter garden... yes, i know im late...

so, the totals for the garden this year.

We had a 30 x 10 plot to work with,

we ended up with:

211 lbs of Tomatoes
68 lbs of Zucchini
12 lbs of Cucumbers
11 lbs of Summer Squash
10 lbs of winter squash
4 lbs of Sweet Corn
3 lbs of Swiss Chard
3 lbs of Basil
1 lb of Parsley
time, oregano to boot. (herbs and chard were in another 4 x 6 plot.)

fun in the sun, thank you Pachamama thank you.

With the farmers market down town, the huge fresh asian fish market and the produce section at the 99 cent store (completely rocks)... we were well fed this summer, and the freezer is full of pizza and pasta sauces, pestos and stocks.. as if we have to endure a long winter, or something... ;)

Just in case there are any concerns about the focus of this blog... those are Yaya's Chekeres... he can make custom ones for you, if youre interested in them.

T and I

Friday, November 7, 2008

Wayne Wallace and Mike Spiro at Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society this Sunday

Wayne WallaceNovember 9
Wayne Wallace
Latin Jazz Quintet

Wayne Wallace - trombone,
Murray Low – piano,
David Belove – bass,
Michael Spiro – percussion,

Paul Van Wageningen – drums,
and possibly some special guests. $30.

Belove is a monster on the bass. this should be a great show. I just love this venue.

When i was a kid, i went to see Pancho Sanchez play there. We somehow got back stage with the band, and i found myself being tought how to slap a conga, on the empty bar in the back room. His band mates were so kind to teach me, and its one of the things that got me into playing this instrument. - thanks guys, im not sure who you are, as it wasnt Poncho.. perhaps the banda brothers.. who know, i was young.

This is a great place to bring a date, see a show, walk in the fog by the ocean.. its very cool. Its owned by this eccentric pipe smoking jazz fan who turned his house into one of the sweetest Jazz venues around. The performance area and the sound reminds me of the old Yoshi's - still the best club in my experience to see a small combo perform. I dont think the new Yoshi's, either of them, live up to the natural wood, two level, open but intimate club Yoshi's of old.



Jesus Diaz Friday November 7th Stage Dor Dance Studios

Havana Grooves
Afro Cuban Dance Party

Jesus Diaz
Friday November 7th
Stage Dor Dance Studios
10 Liberty Ship Way #340 Sausalito
Doors 8:00 Dance Lesson 8:15

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. He is the Master of Afro-Cuban Rhythms and is bringing his band to the Stage Dor Dance Studio for a hot night of dancing. A Salsa lesson before Jesús Diaz y su Salsa-Timba Grupo takes the stages will warm up the hips. Get ready to move to Funk, 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.

Orlando Torriente--------Vocal
Anthony Blea-----Violin
Patrick Morehead------Piano
Ayla Davila--------Bass
Javier Navarrette------Congas
Jesus Diaz-------Timbales y vocal

$20 advance $22 Door $25 Reserved Seat

Eddie Palmieri in Oakland Nov 20th and 21st.

7th Annual San Francisco Salsa Congress Featuring Eddie Palmieri!!

Thursday, Nov 20 7:00p to Friday, Nov 21 2:00a

Greetings to Latin dance and music lovers from around the globe!!

Join PB&G for the premiere Salsa event of the year, featuring 4 days of world-class Salsa performance, competition, music artists, DJs, instructors & more!!

gee, this guy loves the !!!!!! , this should be a great show for dancers, as i understand the competition will be quite... well.... competitive.

Maestro Palmieri is performing at Yoshi's for new years as well. Tics go fast on this gig, as we all know.

from the Yoshi's SF site:

Eddie Palmieri & La Perfecta II
  • Dec 26, 2008 - Dec 31, 2008
  • Friday 8pm & 10pm $30
    Saturday 8pm & 10pm $30
    Sunday 2pm Matinee: $5 Kids/ $18 Adults with Kids / $30 General
    Sunday 7pm $30
    Monday 8pm & 10pm $30
    Tuesday 8pm & 10pm $30
    Wedesday NEW YEAR'S CELEBRATION $100

Yoshis SF jazz club and restaurant

Seven-time Grammy Award winning Eddie Palmieri's musical career spans 50 years as a bandleader of salsa and Latin jazz orchestras. As one of the foremost Latin jazz pianists of the last half of the 20th century, his ability to fuse the rhythms of his Puerto Rican heritage with the jazz influences of Thelonious Monk and McCoy Tyner made him an immediate hit when he played New York's Palladium Ballroom in the 1950s and '60s. He has continued to roll on with stylistic innovations over the years, creating classic Tico albums and later mixing salsa with R&B, pop, rock, Spanish vocals and more jazz improvisation. Now 68, Palmieri who in 2005 celebrates an amazing 50-year career as a professional musician simply revolutionized the sound of Latin music, an accomplishment that alone would ensure his place in the music pantheon. No purist, he has also shown a welcome willingness to experiment with fusions of Latin and non-Latin music.

Nice Valje conga, 10" Quinto up for sale - SOLD!

Here is a very clean 10" Valje quinto made by the master Tom Flores at the LA shop.

It was very nice to get an email from Tom's daughter, who was so kind to thank me for the blog, and the memories it brought to her about growing up in the Sunset strip shop.

She talked of the smell of saw dust and natural wood being worked, the sound of the sanding, and the love her father and she shared while working together. She was daddy's little helper, and as a child, she may have laid hands on many of the drums we play today.

This drum, by Tom, is a really nice quinto, it is in almost ideal condition even though it was made almost 30 years ago. It is without even a hairline crack, has the original finish and the hardware looks and tunes almost like new.

The video below was shot in my kitchen, and you can hear the dishes and pots rattling around, hence the outside clip. I love the sound of this drum.

I have it up for sale on ebay, for one lucky Rumbero.

Have fun bidding,