CongaDr+ Tony's Conga Adventures: October 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Air Lounge Rumba in Oakland - Sandy, Carlos, Santos et al

What a scene it was.. all packed with dancers...

Alisa was in rare form on the night of her promotional rumba to launch the next years events to be hosted by, her baby.

Sandy Perez, Carlos Aldama, Mejail LaBrada, Chris 'Flaco' Walker, Fito Reinoso, Rosita Perez, Colin Douglas, and Pili Martinez. Most of the top cats in this area.

The first set was ripping, i happen to have missed most of it.. i was co-producing the show and i had to work. But what i saw was amazing.

The singers could not hear themselves and the mics were turned way up. The sound was much better the second set.

Some of the most ripping dancers came out of the croud to wow us all. At one point, i was thinking... this is some of the best rumba dancing by a couple i have seen around here.. and Barroso or Susana were not there... its nice to see we can all hold our own without them, even though we would all love when they can be there - goes without saying.

The rumba was completely off the charts at points, with an incredibly beautiful Yambu to start the second set. All those who ponied the 10 to get in were treated to a memorable night of the best rumba the bay has to offer. Probably the best rumba in the country that evening, all due respect.

Edgardo & Candela CD release Yoshi’s sf tonight!

Cambón, one of the best Salseros around, is having a CD release party and show tonight at Yoshi's in SF.

Edgardo is one of the best instructors of the tumbadoras in the bay area, and is very approachable and available to any of us, from beginner to expert performer.

Buy the CD

He is one nice cat as well, and the band rocks.

This should be a fun show, as he has many talented people in on it, and he is planning to include Uruguayan Candombe drummers! how cool.

Edgardo & Candela

  • Oct 28, 2008
  • 8 pm $16
    10 pm $10

  • Open Dance Floor!
Yoshis SF jazz club and restaurant

Cd release party for “Celebrando 20 Años”

One of the oldest and foremost Bay Area Salsa Bands, “Edgardo & Candela,” returns to Yoshi’s to celebrate the release of their new CD “Celebrando 20 Años.”
Singer-Conga drummer Edgardo Cambón will lead “Candela’s” exciting presentation of all 11 original songs on the CD.

“Candela” is: Jeff Cressman, Sandy Cressman, Julio Areas, Bob Karty, David Belove, Abel Figueroa, Marty Wehner, Omar Ledezma, and Edgardo Cambón, plus special guests: Jason McWire, Seth Asarnow, Juan Ceballos, Camilo Landau, Steve Senft, Walter Gonzalez,
Jorge Dominguez, Natalia Bernal, Salsa, Flamenco and Tango dancers, Uruguayan Candombe drums and many other surprises.

Info from the candela sight, linked below:

Edgardo Cambón
Lead Vocalist, Congas, Composer and Band Leader
Born in Uruguay in 1960, Edgardo moved to Europe in 1982 where he toured and performed with well known Swedish group, "Latin Lover." In Amsterdam, Holland, he began studying the difficult coordination of drumming and singing simultaneously, performing with the local bands "Evolution 2000", "Rubén Salas Orquestra", "Salsa Charanga" and his own group "Bululú". In 1985, he joined French percussionist, band leader Henry Guedón’s Latin Jazz band and traveled throughout Europe and Africa, sharing the stage with the great trombonists Glenn Ferris and George Lewis and pianist Eddy Martinez.
After moving to San Francisco in 1987, he formed "Candela." Traveling to Cuba, he studied with master drummers Jose Luis "Changuito" Quintana, Justo Pelladito and Vizcaino Guillot and has participated in the Havana Jazz Festival and the Benny Moré Festival. He has sung and/or played with such artists as Jesús "Chucho" Valdez, Rebeca Mauleón and "Round World", Mark Levine, Andy Narrel, Keith Terry and "Crosspulse," "Sol y Luna Band," Carlos Santana, Jackie Rago, Michael Spiro, John Calloway, "Los Compas," and vocal group "So Vo Só," among many others. He has taught at UCLA, UCFRESNO, UCBERK., and given workshops in many cities in U.S.A, Southamérica and Europe.
He teaches percussion at Folsom State Prison, a maximum security Institution where arts are a part off the rehabilitation program.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ashe! Productions events, Sandy Perez Y Su Lade

Met with Sandy last night regarding the next years events...

It looks like we are in full swing with the new project, Sandy Perez Y Su Lade.

We will be hitting as many festivals as we can this summer. In the future... a west coast tour. but this may be a couple of years off.

Other than we are holding a three day workshop on Afro Cuban Percussion, with Sandy's incredible Matanzas tradition in full display, at Lake Tahoe in mid June of '09.

It will most likely be an annual event.... Its like 'Humboldt state lite' as it will be smaller than the workshops in Norther Ca, more intimate and more focused.

We may have other teachers as well.. Carlos Aldama, Yaya Maldonado, Chirs 'Flaco' Walker, David Fraiser, and Francisco Barroso are also possible, if not probable instructors. We will try to keep it to only a few key cats, as we want to organize it for the most effective transmission of the tradition to the students as possible.

Sandy asked me to post as many videos of him playing as possible, so check out my youtube channel for the latest video's....give me a little time on this, if you will, i just put up the channel.. Ill also be posting some here as well.

Surprisingly, one of the members of Sandy Perez Y Su Lade had to return to the windy city. We were sad to hear the news, but are happy he was able to move to care for his mother.

Any cats out that way will be well served to find this brother... He's got chops, has worked with Sandy for years now and is only in his 20's. Chicago, i hear, has a developed folkloric scene who just reattained a 'steady third', as we say.

Good on ya, as the Australians say

I have a feeling he will be back in town eventually... but until then, we wish you the best... Good luck Toby!!! Once a brother, always a brother. We'll be thinking about you and praying for your mother's health.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

La Pena rumba 10.08 - thoughts about re-focusing

A fun time was had by all in another La Pena rumba session on a nice Indian Summer day in Berkeley California.

Yagbe, Santos, Pili, Trevino, Orlando and his brother, Javier and a the regular crew of hackers.

There is a moratorium on filming at La Pena... with patience, im sure we can film again at some point. In the mean time... enjoy a session from 5/08... Im actually thinking of setting up a pod cast one day. We'll see... that would be fat!

Yaya had a gig, and was sorely missed. The singing was in need of some structure, to say the least. At one point, they were singing in the wrong spot in clave, while the cat on segunda was on the wrong side as well. I was on quinto and was like.. what the @#$% is going on here!... oh well.

At times, it ripped. Yagbe and Pili are great to watch play together. They are working together more and more, and you can feel the chemistry between these two great players. Its fun to see.

Pili was on fire, and ripping holes in the quinto. He has such rocket slaps! man... and his technique on the quinto cajon... very nice work. Trevino on Paila... man.. he is Mr. Smooth!

Other times it was burdened with amateurs. Some cats need to lay back and let the rumba happen, instead of trying to jump in and frantically swim like a drowning cat. Some think they can play, because they are from Havana or whatever... we all know that's a joke.

My family is from Austria, you dont see me crashing the local Polka scene, jumping on stage, slobbering all over the Tuba like i know what im doing. ;) - although that does sound like fun...

Im in a somewhat weird spot these days... My ears arent letting me enjoy what i used to tolerate, and some of the politics are wearing thin.

I was somewhat bummed after the session... It seems, at times, somewhat aimless.

I'm in an in between mode here, as i grow as a musician. Playing with the less experienced is not fun or educational. Playing with the heavies is not as common as i would like.

In the scene, I'm 'ranked' just under the top players of the bay, but am making quick progress and growing faster than most. I'm not called in on most of the 'raindeer games' of the masters of the bay, even though they are happy to see me, and welcome me to play whenever i see them. I'm certainly not considered one of the top players, by the top players, as of yet.

At 41, and with about six years of experience playing this style, I feel I am learning faster than ever. Im probably about half way there, as far as what i would like to learn about this tradition, at minimum. mid 50's will work for me.. i just need to keep on trucking.

Its fun to think, there is no end to what can be learned in this tradition... there is always another song... another style....

I dont know of anyone, other than Carlos Aldama and Sandy Perez, who seemingly have it all figured out. Im talking several traditions, song, dance and drum.

I'm also at a point in my career that i am expecting more from myself, and expect to continue to expand my education in this tradition and grow as a technical player and singer in an ever increasing way.

Its not good enough to be a part of the scene, not in the slightest. I have high expectations, and i am well positioned to have success in this quest.

Its all fun to hang and jam. I love to see the cats enjoying themselves, and it is a brotherhood of players, however dysfunctional... I just have other interests these days. I have to keep the eye on the ball. This is my work, not to say its not to be enjoyed.

To break through this ever thinning glass ceiling, i simply need to practise and study more. Hard work will get me past the roadblocks. I once said to Flaco, for some reason.. 'hurdles come and go' when talking about the difficulty in becoming an accomplished and accepted musician in this tradition. I think i have ultimate faith that I will continue on this path, no matter how arduous.

Working on my chops, I am. Working on the material of the Villamil family and Maestro Aldama.... thats it. Im working on a long trip to Matanzas in the near future, but for now... woodshedding and being patiently persistent in my participation in the scene, no matter how frustrating it may be, will see me through.

I do need to find a way to lighten up, and follow the lead of some of the more experienced players who come to these public sessions with a grain of salt in there lip, and a spirit of tolerance. Id hate to not be a part of the scene, simply because there are not as many enjoyable sessions.

I just need to re-focus, and take a light heated approach to learning what i can out of each session, and do my part in contributing to the tradition.

In the mean time... check out the great Chavalonga on the docks! Where it all happened. He was one of Sandy's mentors.


Volcano Percussion - only eye candy... bad for your teeth!


ive been keeping my mouth shut on this one.. but...

The word is, that the price is over $3000 a drum.

Ive played three sets of these drums, and they are bright and uncontrollably ringy, at best. Over built and metallic sounding, heavy and uncomfortable to play. but boy, they sure look nice... (eyes rolling)

For all those who love these drums:

If anyone wants to send me a video of them playing a set of these drums, Im happy to post it here so all can make up their own minds about how they sound.

A friend and reader of this blog was quoted over $30 thousand dollars for two sets of three 'drums' ! Now that is truly ridiculous.

Whats the big deal? Why do i care what they charge? Well... all you have to do is ask the conga makers of the tradition, and they will tell you... Prices will continue to rise, and this ridiculous price collectors pay, makes it very hard for a working musician to buy high end drums made by the actual master drum makers of our day - Matt Smith and Jay Bereck for example.

The price of hand made congas is being driven up for several reasons, and this inflated asking price is not helping the tradition.

I hope you all invest in the true master builders of our day, Matt Smith and Jay Bereck. You will find them exponentially better than Volcano Percussion.

Hope that helps,


This was a fun show... one of the last of the season at Yerba Buena Gardens in SF.

It was a fond way to remember Hilton Ruiz.. i remember him fondly, last i saw him, he was playing with Babatunde Lea (one of my teachers) and Earny Watts... some serious mosters of the Jazz scene. He was quite a talented player, and a really nice cat. He will be missed, for sure.

Jesus Diaz
and Javier Navarrette, QBA, wowed the crowd with some fine compositions... then opened the door for Dave Valentine and friends to rip it up for Hilton.

The smooth horns of Rey Vega and Steve Turre' were truly tasty. With Sandy on timbs, and monster player Phoenix Rivera on the traps... man this was a ripping session.

Chembo Corniel layed down a very sweet solo, and Dave Valentin was his grand self, freely flouting to the solid groove.

the members:

Our stage will be graced by Ray Vega (horns), Steve Turré (horns), Dave Valentín (flute), Arturo O'Farrill (piano), Yunior Terry (bass), Phoenix Rivera, (drums), Sandy Perez (timbales), and Chembo Corniel (percussion).

Plaza Cuba - Website Launch Party - 10/25, 4-9pm

This should be fun.

Good friend and fantastic dancer Alisa is putting on a show to promote her web site,

It's always nice to see these shows.. its like a family reunion of players from the east bay, and sf.

Sandy Perez Y Su Lade will be performing, including Carlos Aldama, Fito Reynoso and Mijael Labrada, cant get better than that!

DJ Walt Digz, one fantastic spinner, will pick up the breaks.

Hope to see you all there,


Latin Percussion Show at the Down Low - 10/22

Hey all, hope you are doing well.

Ive been very busy with many a project at the moment, I will be back to posting regularly in November.

Want to let you know about a few shows in the works...

There is a Latin Percussion show at the Downlow in Berkeley tomorrow night. None other than Ralph Irizarry and Karl Perazzo, as well as local favorites Mike Spiro and Edgardo Cambon of Karabali.

They are also performing Thursday the 23rd at Cafe Cocomo

See you there,