CongaDr+ Tony's Conga Adventures: April 2013

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Wagner Profeta Santos and Banda Cafofo at Capueira Arts in Berekeley 4/27 9pm-2am

New on the scene, a really fun and professional Brazilian project hitting gigs around the bay these days, playing Pagode and Samba to writhing throngs of beautiful dancers..  The project, Banda Cafofo, has a very relaxed and playful repertoire of Pagode, developing into hard hitting and fierce Sambas late in the night.

The band includes one very talented percussionist in the Brazilian scene here in the bay, Wagner Profeta Santos. 'Wag DoGroove' on the web, he is one bad ass Conguero, and shreds the nearest Timbal with blazingly fast licks. I had the pleasure of seeing him perform with his other project, Sambada the other night.. an awesome show.. really fun..

Wag totally shreds when a lead player.. and slips cleanly into the pocket when the sound demands a team play.. He has a very graceful and comfortably musical style, often singing, playing several peoples parts.. and smiling big enough for the entire band... When spotlighted, he quickly steps up with powerful and emphatic solos.. a clean blend of technique, solid musicianship and raw emotion.

 but you can see.. the Brazilians are not short on smiles.. lol. Here he is pictured on the right here, with band members Pablo Mello, project founders Tony Santos and Claudinho Smile

Claudinho, leading the project, sings and plays Cavaquinho, which is one of my favorite instruments to hear.. it just makes you smile, for some reason.. I bet you cant play the blues on that instrument.. it just wont cry with you.. ;) ... well.. Im sure Muddy could have used it.. but anyway.. 

Wag has found a fun group of cats, and a steady gigging project to showcase his talents... 

The cat is so humble, and rather young, so we may have the great fortune to see him play.. for years here...

Its so fun to have such talented players who call the bay home.

Here is short clip of his class at Brazil Camp, somewhere in northern California, you can see the kind of positive vibes he brings to his work...

 and a clip of a performance they had after the workshops..

One night its Havana, the next Saville.. and tonight... SAMBA!

See you in Berkeley at Capueira Arts,
1901 San Pablo Street, Berkeley, California 94702
9pm - 2am.. bring your dancing shoes.. and all your friends who own shoes.. 

Wagner Profeta Santos and Banda Cafofo at Capueira Arts in Berekeley 4/27 9pm-2am

 Sorry, here is the updated post - Wagner and Banda Cafofo

One night its Havana, the next Saville.. and tonight... SAMBA!

See you in Berkeley at Capueira Arts,
1901 San Pablo Street, Berkeley, California 94702
9pm - 2am.. bring your dancing shoes.. and all your friends who own shoes.. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Vintage Bongo restoration, Candido Requena in Cedar

Candid Requena bongo restored by Tony Stearn - on the rumba blog tony's conga adventures

This was a fun project, although the money got kind of funny at the end...

There is this family in what we call 'south city', or Daily City/Colma area, who has a Patriarch bongocero who brought this set direct from Cuba back in the day. It was made by the legendary drum maker Candido Requena.

It was purchased at the legendary music shop Solis, in Havana Cuba back in the late 50's. Ive seen this label on several different instruments...  

The set originally cost $11 US, no doubt, so this must have been before the embargo, I think.

cuban bongo on the rumba blog tony's conga adventures

Working on a set made by Candid Requena is an honor, even if it is a set that was meant for the tourist trade and not really built for the professional player.

bongo from cuba on the rumba blog tony's conga adventures
Cedro, great sound, soft wood
 The goat skin wasnt functional, even back then, the hardware and shell are not built to last, or to be heavily used by a gigging professional. You actually see a few of these a year, for sale on the internet.Candido made other, very fine and high end instruments for the top professionals of the day, as seen below. Here is other examples of his work: Candido Requena congas on Tony's conga adventures

Perez Prado on a Candid Requena Conga back in the day

But with the Cedar shell and the masterful maker.. we try to get this set to perform, and not just be a good looking trinket of days gone by. And in this case, it was an 80th birthday gift for a well bongocero from south city.

Cuban bongo restoration - CongaDr - conga skins and repair on the rumba blog tony's conga adventures

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Vintage Banded Valje Congas, very old set

Now here is one vintage set of Valje Congas, to say the least. This is one of the first sets made by the legendary drum maker Tom Flores. 

In all the years Ive been working with these instruments, touching over 50 set of Valje Congas...

I have only personally seen one other Valje Conga that was older than this beautiful set, which must have been one of Tom's first oak creations.

Here is a very old set made of Mahogany.. and with the walnut one-off I saw.. it looks like he was experimenting with woods, finally choosing the quarter sawn Oak we know and love.

Who knows, the sound of this set may have influenced him to choose oak.. or perhaps the ease of working with the material, or its durability..

Its amazing to see his thought process through his art that remains with us today.

This reminds me of the memory his daughter told me, about the smell of saw dust in her fathers shop being one of the profound and durable memories she has of her famous father. That memory may have been entirely different, had he chose to work with walnut, or cherry..

Back in 2000, I took a quick snapshot of what I believe to be one of Tom's first drums, a walnut banded quinto with very distinct, but crudely welded Valje hardware not nearly as refigned as this set.

The hardware may have been crude, but it was all Tom Flores. It also had near diamond sideplates, if you can imagine the sideplate looking symmetrical, with the same pattern as seen on the lower half of the sideplates he eventually used, repeated on the top half, if you follow me.. Not an exact diamond, but distinctly similar to what Maestro Flores ended up using, as seen here.

I can see the design improvement in going from his original semi-diamond design, to this sideplate.

It was clearly Tom's first, if not nearly a first go at making a drum with hardware. I could easily see Tom's hand in that work, even back then. It had bands exactly like this drum.. this aluminum stock, as bit more wide in dimension than, say, gon bops bands..  It was all Valje, probably born before the name.

The old cat who had this, what may have been the original Valje quinto in Walnut, was out at Mosswood Park in Oakland. And by only asking "where did you get this?", he said he bought it from a guy named Tom in LA who made it in his garage...

That snapshot, I simply have to find.. it was taken on one of the first cellphone cameras, all jpged.. its on a crashed computer that needs to have its data extracted.. But I will try to eventually post that pic, as this is certainly Latin drum history going on here...

You can see in this set, that the crowns are not the same gauge, with the conga being a big thinner.. I bet all of his drums after this set had the thicker crowns, all following this old quinto on the left. 

Amazingly, this old Oak set even had the original hand made stands... Quite a find.