CongaDr+ Tony's Conga Adventures: La Pena Rumba - Oakland Oct 2007

Thursday, February 21, 2008

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La Pena Rumba - Oakland Oct 2007

Entry for October 22, 2007
What a cool day yesterday.

I was worried, the last rumba was lacking in energy, somehow. I think it was due to our friend and fellow rumbero Jeff cut off his come over.

Usually, when Jeff had a comeover, and the rumba was really taking off, one could always tell when it was really going to rip by the frenzied flapping of said lock of hair. It would waive, like a flag, calling all rumberos to lock in and rip.

Seriously, the rumba yesterday was incredible. Sandy Perez came and completely ripped on Quinto. I mean ripped! He played as well as ive ever seen him play.

I asked him after - do you ever have a thought that your hands cant play? - answer, a humble no... ;) he is the shit.

So the line up was heavy, Pili, Flaco, Javier Navarette, John Santos, Yaya Maldinado, Enrique, Orlando, Micheil played. Tony D. and Ricky Agulara were in the audience.

Later in the Rumba, when i thought Sandy had left the building, i played quinto. Played ok, then looked up to see Sandy standing there smiling at me! So i got up and let him sit down. It was such an honor that he didn't just come up and ask for the drum, but waited till i wanted to give it up. After, Jeff said i needed to remember what i played, as he thought i was 'in the pocket'.

I hope Sandy isnt just being kind when he said that he heard someone playing quinto, he liked what he heard, poked his head around the corner from the bar to see his brother Tony on Quinto. I bet he was surprised, as he's never seen me on Quinto. Im so dang lucky to hang with these cats...

Do the rumba continued... we played a really nice Yambu, and a Columbia that Sandy bellowed into a complete blaze!!

After, Rick McKinney (a student of mine and fellow rumba hunter) and i went over to Tony D.'s studio to chill and play. He has a huge building in Oakland downtown and has the most amazing trap set you have ever seen, or heard. This set sounded like it was already going through a board... amazing sounding set. Tony D said "you will never hear a nicer set" and i actually believe him. In my 30+ years of playing, ive never played such nice toms.

Tony D., Rick, Javier Naverette, and I played some heavy african material Tony D. knows. It was crazy fast and bata like. I was sweating to keep up! But it ripped. Id love to see the dance that accompanies this rhythm! I think it was from Mali.

Tony D. is one hell of a trap player, Trinidad, i believe. He can play the hell out of the congas as well. He is very well respected among the heavy players of the bay area. A really nice cat too...

Another very cool Sunday in Oakland.

re: drums... put up a cedar set of Cuban Bongo on ebay, and two vintage stands for an old Valje Conga and Gon Bops quinto. I sold a Chekere, a Didge and a set of fiber skins i had laying around from when i used to like that sound. I will drop off the Valje rebuild from last week, another project completed.

Today im going to fix a crack on a Giovanni Hidalgo LP. Its two ply and the crack seems to only be on the outside ply. I need to fix the crack from the outside without messing with the gloss finish. This time i will take before pics!!

Then, the dance class tonight. Should be cool as there will be a couple of new dancers.

Tags: afro-cuban, conga, congas, cuba, cuban, dance, drum, rumba, latin, drums, drumming, sandyperez, salsa
Monday October 22, 2007 - 07:44am (PDT) Permanent Link | 0 Comments
Entry for October 19, 2007
Here is a closeup of the repair.

I love to have a client play the game - 'find the crack' as some of the repairs are close to invisible.

This old set of Valjes were interesting. The quinto, 10.25" was very bullet like for a valje. my 10.5" has a much bigger belly. I like the sound of my 10.5 much better, and im quite suer its the big belly, as it has a similar skin to this bullet 10.25.

Some odd notes... the side cuts on the inside - classic Valje technique to get the shape - were painted with glue, ala Akbar out of SF. But these beauties are 31" Sunset strips. Perhaps it was done by the person who refinished it some years ago.

Tags: afro-cuban, conga, congas, drum, drumming, drums, latin, percussion
Friday October 19, 2007 - 05:41pm (PDT) Permanent Link | 0 Comments
Entry for October 17, 2007
Here is a shot of the two valje's i worked on. They are two of a matching set of four. Again, the owner wanted the crack repaired without refinishing the drum.

The stamp stuck to the drum shows where the crack used to be.

An interesting note... to some...

The famous company is actually pronounced Valjeee in stead of Valjay as we all know them. I spoke with Ralph Flores, son of the the founder of Valje, and he said the name came from a combo of two womens names... wife and daughter i think it was... Valerie and Jean. ... bet you never heard that one before!

By the way, it looks like i might be able to hook Isla Percussion up with a stainless steel manufact. to fabricate their parts. One of my dear friends is one of the best brewers in the US and knows many contacts in the stainless manufacturing arena.

Joseph 'Pili' Martinez (my friend and fellow Rumbero) and his friend Mario run this up and coming drum making business in LA, Isla Percussion.

They make some fine instruments, and they keep improving the quality. Soon they will have one of the best made congas to be produced today - one to watch...

Tags: afro-cuban, conga, congas, cuba, cuban, drum, drumming, drums, latin, percussion
Wednesday October 17, 2007 - 02:10pm (PDT) Permanent Link | 0 Comments
Entry for October 17, 2007
Here you can see how big the crack actually was.

The expanding glue is messy, but you cant beat it for getting into hairline cracks.

You can also see the fiberglass ring, factory installed near the bottom - makes it stronger, but probably ringy-er. I never liked the idea, but it does make it more stable.

This shot is of the inside, the outside of the drum looks like it was never cracked.
Tags: afro-cuban, conga, congas, cuba, drum, drumming, drums, latin, percussion
Wednesday October 17, 2007 - 01:34pm (PDT) Permanent Link | 0 Comments
Entry for October 17, 2007
Just rebuilt and reskinned a pair of Valje Conga drums from the 60's. The conga was split, head to toe, and the owner wanted me to fix it without refinishing the drum.

So, i glued it from the inside with expanding glue, wrapped it in rope to clamp, and wiped off the glue as it expanded. It came together nicely, and you cant see the repair.

I skinned the quinto with a nice med-thin skin, as requested. It should sound great when it dries.

For some reason, i always forget to take a before pic! but here is a shot after the repair. The old school drum has many a mark, but you cant see where it was cracked.

The owner may refinish these, or have me do it, so they may get a face lift in the future. but in the mean time, they are funky and old school looking - very cool set.

The quinto is an older Valje, as the hardware is hand cut and not exact. It must be early 60's. The Conga has a fiberglass ring in the inside of the bottom and macheined hardware, probably 70's, both LA Sunset strips made by Tom Flores.

More pics to come...

Tags: afr

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