CongaDr+ Tony's Conga Adventures: March 2008

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Gary King Jr. event Fliers

Join us This Saturday for the first annual remembrance of

Gary King Jr.

We will begin a new chapter of Healing and Community togetherness

with a Musical Celebration!of his life!

Saturday, March 22nd 1:00 – 6:00 pm

53rd and Martin Luther King Blvd. Oakland

Dancers Welcome! - in costume if you like! – FREE to all, no cover.

We are so fortunate to have several master percussionists leading performances from several Folkloric traditions: AfroCuban/Yoruban , West African, Brazilian Samba, African Ewe, Puerto Rican Bomba and Cuban Rumba traditions are likely participants. Please do send t his to as many caring people as you can. for information email Tony at

Monday, March 17, 2008

Gary King Jr. Tribute meeting - Its On!! 3/22 53 & MLK 2pm

Gary King Jr. Tribute and Celebration
Saturday March 22nd 1:00 om - 6:00 pm
53rd and Martin Luther King Blvd. Oakland

Man, what have i done to deserve such loyalty from such powerful people... I am literally shivering over the conversation I just had with Tito Garcia... I have to slow down...

ok, too much coffee, i guess...

Yesterday, our guiding sister Maria de Colombia and I had a very heavy meeting with Gary King Sr. - one very strong, kind, educated and responsible African father in the hood of Oakland.

There is a low level war in Oakland... for years now... the national media seems to be more interested in Britney Spears.

He watched his son die, bleeding in the street, while the police held him back... right down the street from their house... not too long ago. Sitting with this cat was HEAVY... whooossssh....

We are turning this tragedy into an opportunity.

We are organizing an event to remember his son, and get some of the bad mojo off of everyone in the community, as its been a very big deal for the locals in that section of town.

I called on Tito Garcia to do me a favor. he in turn asked David Fraiser to do him a favor and come to play an Oru Ogun... a set of sacred rhythms for Gary... man i cant tell you how honored and proud, ... am i lucky to be able to do this for these wonderful people in such distress... i cant tell you how much this means to me...

I asked Yagbe to come play with Wade Djembe and Djun Djun West African prayers... he said he would be there.

Now i need to call on C. K. Ladzekpo, the master Ewe drummer to see if he can bring his troupe of cats to play the Ewe prayers.. man if i can pull this off....

And next year.... Ashe! Productions is going to step it up to a big time festival for violence awareness... this is going to be fun. It will be very good experience for me as a producer, for sure. Very good experience for a very good cause.

I hope we change just one persons life over this.

Some cat who decides to get out of a gang, who joins the cops to change the force from within - to protect and serve the community they police.

Yea.... Obatala willing, this will be huge and will save lives.

details to come...

additional note: Just talked to C.K. and he will be there. Talked to Trevino Leon and he will be there as well! YES! YES! YES!

This is one solid and amazing community, and i cant believe im so solidly a part of it.


La Pena Rumba - Tito Gonzales' birthday rumba


I mean... Wow...

La Pena's rumba was too much fun. Played a lot of cata, as Im mostly on quinto up in Napa and i need to keep my stick chops up. At one point I was playing next to Yagbe Onilu, one of the most strict of masters - he hardly fucked with me... which is unusual for him ;) I must be playing better these days, as Im getting less and less flack.

Im still working out my quinto chops, had a short stint, didnt play that well, then redeemed myself with some quinto cajon work that felt ripping.

John Santos was there watching with his young family. He has a new boy, someone we all will know and follow long into the future: The blue eyed soon to be master musician Marcel Santos... say hello to the world little buddy!

Then, after the rumba.. we waited to see what developed... and then were invited to Tito Gonzalez's birthday party... incredible.. with Rick and I as the only European cats in the house, with all the old Cubans.. it looked like we stepped into Matanzas Cuba for a time last night. Toto's bass player Levan Hernandez, and his piano player Coto Pincheira were there. I know them well from working with Sandy and the two of them to produce the folkloric shows last year... they are some great cats, and way off the charts as professional musicians... these guys are fat!

Levan is working on a new project.. all originals.. he took me out to his car to listen to his new material, unmixed, but Super Fat!!! oh my Orishas, this cat is keeping the tradition of early Son alive!! The instrumentation of this project... Bass, Tres, one Trumpet, congas or bongo, singers etc. - no piano. Man the sound was fat, ripping. i just love the sound! It was like son with a timba edge, Retro and modern at the same time! can hardly wait to buy it when it comes out.

Damian, the chosen one, was kind enough to invite me to Tito's party, we played some rumba, a bembe and i got to play and sing in front of these old cuban musicians, who really enjoyed the playing. Wow.. Im so stoked to be in this spot, right now, right here.. Im one fortunate cat...


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Maestro Octavio Ruiz - Valje congas

As far as i understand.. This is the cat who very quietly produced some of the finest congas every made -
Valje of SF.

He worked with Ralph Flores of Valje in LA. Moved the opperation up to SF with Akbar. I have a feeling this cat was more of a significant player than people know. I know Ive played some of his drums.. but im not sure which ones... I think Ralph painted lots of glue inside the drum over the side cuts, and Octavio used less, but this is not confirmed.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Maestro Akbar Moghaddam - Valje congas, Sol congas, new Gon Bops congas

Akbar took a conga repairman gig at a small music store in SF and parlayed it into a serious career of making congas.

He, with the hlep of Octavio Ruiz and Tom Flores, is responsible for no less than the SF Valje line of drums, the LP Armando Parrazo cherry Valje models of the 90's, Sol drums, and the California Gon bops series, among other accomplishments. Id say thats a nice resume'... for a repair man...

I have yet to meet the man, but its a matter of time. Ill run into him at some point. I am a fan of his work, for sure.

Pics of his work to come....


Picture of the stock of completed Valje drums destroyed in the '86 fire:

.. and the saddest of after pictures:

.. on a side note.. in the history of Valje..

.. I was talking to John Santos this weekend, and we were bsing about the old days, and various cats we know that were sponsored by various drum manufacturers.. and he was telling me about a line of Valje 'John Santos' signature drums that was in development when the fire destroyed the SF shop.. up in smoke... but an interesting tidbit.

.. he also mentioned that the heavy folklorist Harold Muñiz was working with Akbar in the SF shop.. always interesting to find out more about the history of Valje...

If you live in the Central Valley, you have to check this cat out.. he and his wife Beatriz are like folkloric royalty in these parts.

Dance class gig pictures

Dance class gig

We had a fun time playing for a packed house in Napa last weekend. It was our forth performance together as a 'troupe'

When I moved to Napa, people would tell me - 'there isnt anything cool happening in Napa'

I figure it was just as easy to make something cool happen, as to say no one got to it, so...

I saw a brother playing in downtown Napa with the new Giovanni technique.. i quickly recruited him to come play with us. - Rick McKinney, an Irish school teacher, of all people, turned out to be a 'solid second' as they say... so Ritmo Napa was born.

We added a jazz trap drummer, Steve on cata, and John, the only Puerto Rican in the valley. We worked together to get up to speed, of sorts.. hooked up with dancer Remi Cohen , one of CK's students who lives in town, and we had a class going....

We had 25 dancer the first class up in a nice studio in Yountville, just north of Napa.

Sad to say, we moved to another studio, due to local politics, and lost most of the crowd. For some reason, the dancers were happy with just a few girls there, so it never really got going, as far as the dancing. But we had some fun working on all sorts of Cuban folkloric work on the tumbadoras.

Im moving out of be closer to the musical action... but it was fun while it lasted!

Keep in mind... these are actually the only people who can play at all in Napa. stoked to get them this far!

Video to come... - gotta edit out all the belly dancing.. well... ok.. ill include some of that too... why not..


Gary King Jr. tribute Sat. March 22nd 4pm - 53rd & MLK


This young man was shot in the back for running from the police, and looking like someone who committed a crime.

Obatala, and our dear sister Maria de Columbia has asked me to organize something for the rememberance on Saturday.

Im meeting with Gary Sr. on Sunday to talk about what i can do to help.

Please do spread the word...

Saturday, March 22nd, 4pm 53rd and MLK in oakland



Enrique Carrerao - Rumbero and Mentor - Pancho Cajon

One the the coolest things about this tradition is meeting and becoming friends with some of the nicest and loyal people Ive known in all my life's travels.

Enrique Carrerao is a serious Rumbero, in the traditional sense, and is a mentor to many of us. He is one of those very accepting people and is happy to share his love with anyone who is around. I love this cat, as many people who know him. Enrique has the sweetest licks on the cajon, and drops these bajo hits that feel like someone pulled the chair out from under you!!! Check out the Video of Enrique and i at La Pena last month... below... I'm on Coro! of all things... ;) (Yaya Maldinado, Hector Lugo, Cecil on quinto, Orlando on cata, Jeff on Tumbao, Enrique Carrerao on Cajon) - Ill get back to you on the dancers names... The pic above includes Trevino Leon on segunda.

When I think of what is right in this world, Enrique comes to mind. He is an inspiration to me. I will be doing a feature about him some time soon

Enrique is doing well these days, while standing up to some serious health challenges. Nice to see that award winning smile again!

He just bought a table saw and is busting out some FAT cajons for family and friends. He is in the process of making one for me like Pancho Quinto's - see pic. (A cajón used by "Los Chinitos"
Photo: Antoine Miniconi)
What a cool gift.. i will cherish it.

Other pic is of my teacher and mentor Chris 'Flaco" Walker, one of the most talented Rumberos of European decent on the planet (, and his teacher and mentor Francisco Mora, known as Pancho Quinto, the inventor of the Guarapachangueo.

There is a nice feature about him on - one fat blog... look at the post marked 'Los Chinitos'


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Like Bauer Congas?... want to buy some of the last in the USA?

Ken, one nice human, will hook you up with these beauties for around 600 a pop. They sound as good as they look!

Because of the exchange rate, its too expensive to import these, so they are going fast...

Tell Ken Enrique and I say hello.


Maestro Mariano Bobadillia - Gon Bops congas

more pics to come...

Gon Bops has the prestigious reputation of being one of the oldest manufacturers of handcrafted Latin instruments in the world. Mr. Mariano Bobadilla founded the company in 1954. As a band instrument repairman and professional trumpet player for 18 years, he started out in an old wood garage owned by his father in a neighborhood near the heart of downtown Los Angeles.