Sunday, May 31, 2009

Retumba Revisited......9/20/00 South Street Seaport

Despite the fact that this is not purely folkloric in nature I chose to posted it here because of the over all emphasis on percussion. These are several excerpts from the all women ensemble Retumba playing at the Seaport in NYC. Retumba presents the entire spectrum of playing singing and dancing.

Saturday, May 30, 2009


Well we've hit the 20k mark, and hopefully we will be around for many more. Willie and I have always tried to provide as much information in regard to and in respect to the NYC hand drumming scene (i.e. rumba, bomba y plena, Dominican Roots, etc...) If you are new to the blog, stay tuned because we still have a couple of tricks up our sleeve.


Friday, May 29, 2009

Camilo Ernesto Molina Gaetan

(Oba Ire - Camilo playing caja, Phot Credit: CEMGMusic)

New York has always been fertile ground for young and upcoming talent. As expected Camilo Molina is no exception. A native of El Barrio, Camilo has achieved what most never get to achieve. He has acquired such a proficiency within so many styles of percussion that he has made himself an indispensable asset within the NY percussion scene.

(Tony Rosa and a younger Camilo, Photo Credit: Martin Cohen)

Taken from Camilo's myspace:

Camilo Ernesto Molina Gaetán is an accomplished percussionist of 18 years old and is a graduate of Heritage High School in El Barrio, New York. At the age of two, Camilo began studying with Los Pleneros de la 21 – a community based group dedicated to playing folkloric Puerto Rican music – in their children’s workshop. It was as a student in the workshops where Camilo had met his first teachers: Alberto “Tito” Cepeda and Juan Gutierrez – both considered master Latin percussionists - with whom he studied Afro-Puerto Rican Folkloric music (Bomba y Plena). Advancing in skill through the years, Camilo has progressed from being a student to graduating into a percussionist teacher for the community workshops offered by Los Pleneros de la 21.

Camilo has also studied at Boys Harbor Conservatory with renowned percussionists Johnny Almendra, and Louis Bauzo since the age of four. Under Mr. Almendra’s guidance, Camilo studied Salsa and Jazz percussion instruments (Congas, Timbales, Bongós and Drum-set). Under the tutelage of Mr. Bauzo, Camilo has had the opportunity to study Afro-Cuban folkloric rhythms and instruments including Rumba, Bata drums, Guiro/Bembe and Santería chants. Camilo is also a graduate from the Julliard School of Music (2003) under the MAP/PATH after initiating said programs in fall of 2000.

Through the years, Camilo has traveled to Cuba to participate in FolkCuba, the Annual Havana Jazz Festival in December 2000 with the group Insight as well as for a cultural exchange as a member of Los Pleneros de la 21 in the summer of 2003. In 2008 Camilo also traveled to Berlin, Germany as a member of Los Pleneros de la 21, to perform in the world famous House of World Cultures. In New York Camilo has participated in workshops with Los Hermanos Cepeda and Afro-Cuba de Matanzas in the Dos Alas program (1996 & 1998). In the fall of 2000, Camilo had the great honor to be selected as one of ten semifinalists to compete in the Thelonious Monk International Afro-Latin Hand Drum Competition (at the time he competed against Pedrito Martinez). He went on to become a finalist and was selected third place winner, who, at age ten was the youngest finalist in the 14-year history of the competition. Camilo also received a proclamation from the City Council of New York honoring him for his musical talents and achievements in the fall of 2000, as well as the Celia Cruz Scholarship (2004) which allowed Camilo to travel to Miami, Florida to perform in the Latin Billboard Music awards in a tribute to Celia Cruz. He has also received The Harbor Achievement Award (2001), which was awarded to him by music mogul Russel Simmons.

Camilo has played/plays with Ilu Aye, Los Pleneros de la 21, Yerbabuena, Oba Ire, Anya Ade, and various other groups in the city. Camilo is well known and respected within the Afro Caribbean drumming scene in NY and all over the states. It is obvious that his hard work and dedication has paid off so far, let's just hope this is just the tip of the iceberg for the young percussionist.

(Camilo playing traps with Yerbabuena, Video Credit: NYCityKids)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The End of an Era, or ?

(Yerbabuena, Photo Credit: Julian Gerena-Quinones)

I was seeing posts everywhere that the Thursday night Yerbabuena spot at Camaradas was coming to an end. Any of you who are in the NY City area know that the YB's have held court on Thursday nights at one of El Barrio's favorite watering holes for a couple of years now and so much to the point where the Yerbabuena and Camaradas name have become synonymous. When I heard the Thursday nights were coming to an end, I was scramblin' to find info as to whether they would be calling it quits at Camaradas completely or just moving to another night, fortunately the latter proved to hold true.

(Yerbabuena, Photo Credit: Julian Gerena-Quinones)

Few groups bring the kind of energy that the YB's do, but after lookin' at their roster, comprised of young Nuyorican's and city dwellers alike, it really doesn't seem so surprising. It is just a matter of expressing the way they talk, walk, live, eat and breathe, just in the form of bomba and plena. Tradition and Modernity, Old and New, coming together in a form so cohesive that you can no longer separate the two. No more labels people, it just is what it is.

So that said, let me just pose a question? Yo Tato, when are we going to get another recording from the YB Camp?

Oh, and if you want to catch the Yerbabuena crew do what they do best, you will need to troop it out to Camaradas on their new night on every last Saturday of the month where you can see Tato, Flaco, Melissa, Julissa, Aubrey on vocals, Guillo on bass, Hector on cuatro, Bebo and Nick on barriles, and the crew of dancers whom without we could not call it bomba y plena.

2241 First Avenue
El Barrio, NYC 10029

(Yerbabuena in action, Bebo and Nick on barriles, Video Credit: maldonadojustin)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

More Youtubin' "GFYEN"

(GFYEN Rehearsal, Video Credit: rasmann6)

(GFYEN Rehearsal, Video Credit: rasmann6)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I was doing some youtubin' and came across a video, which while unfortunately has pretty bad sound quality you get to see the ever elusive Jose "Apache" Rivera in action at a Cajon ceremony (on caja). Nicky Laboy is on cajon as well (mula). I am not familiar with the other players, maybe someone can kindly drop that information. Abi Holiday goes from the cachimbo to get on guataca a couple of minutes into the song and takes the lead singing as gallo.

(We previously had a clip of the video embedded on the page, but opted to remove said clip out of respect to those in attendance at the ceremony).

If you still want to see the clip you can catch it here

El Corazon Africano De Cuba......

I just loved this photo of this elder with her Elekes and panuelo de Oshun, con una tremenda sunga en su mano

Friday, May 22, 2009

Geordie's Gourds

Geordie sent some pic's of some of his recent work, and apparent work in progress. I don't know where prices are at, but if you are interested let me know. In the first pic you see Geordie's handicraft pictured aside Geordie's okonkolo made by Isla Percussions.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

"Papin" Abreu

Ricardo "Papin" Abreu passed away yesterday in his beloved Cuba. One of the true giants of La Rumba, Papin was an inspiration to countless rumberos here in NY during my early years of playing. The photo (courtesy of Fidel's Eyeglasses) is from the cover of an album which features the Grupo Guaguanco Matancero (which came to be known as Los Munequitos) and Los Papines. It is one of the best albums of that genre ever recorded. Here we see Papin as a young man.

(Los Papines, Video Credit: gdscks)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Friday, May 15, 2009

Xiomara Rodriguez

(Xiomara and Roman, Credit: Heddy Honigmann)

"Xiomara Rodriguez has been a teacher here since she arrived from Cuba in 1980. She has performed with Folklorico Nacional in Cuba, studying and traveled extensively with them. She has performed with every major folklore group in NY including Los Afortunados, Louie Bauzo's Patakin, Puntilla's Nueva Generacion and now her son, Mikel Sotolongo's group Iba." -- Felix Sanabria

One cannot discuss the rich history of the NY Afro Cuban dance scene without first mentioning the ubiquitous Xiomara Rodriguez. Xiomara has been teaching Orisha dance classes at the Harbor school for the Arts located at 104th Street and 5th Ave (Museo Del Barrio) for over fifteen years. The dancers are few which haven't learned indirectly, much less directly from her. Willie tells me that at one point, when a Cuban folkloric group would visit NY, Xiomara's home was a rest stop. As quoted above Xiomara has danced with most every group in NYC, and we have previously posted some clips of her dancing with Los Afortunados in upstate NY.

Here she is dancing in an old clip posted by Barry on you tube:

She is apparently now part of the Piel Canela Dance troupe, and this is what they had to write about her.

An Afro-Cuban dancer who has been teaching for over 30 years has dedicated her life to keeping Cuba folkloric traditions alive in the United States.

Xiomara is a renowned performer of the sacred dances of the Orishas, the African deities that represent the divine forces of nature associated with the Santeria religion. Xiomara Rodriguez is equally skilled in the secular dances that developed later in Cuba with a greater Spanish influence. These include, but are not limited to, rumba: yambu, guaguanco and columbia. With a degree in dance from the National School of the Arts in Havana, Cuba, we are proud to add Ms. Rodriguez to our staff at Piel Canela Dance & Music School.

Tribute to El Maestro...Tito Puente

The first is a series of videos of a tribute concert for Puente by his orchestra has been posted on Street Level Productions. The concert took place at the South St. Seaport on 9/20/00 and included guest stars Arturo Sandoval and Eddie Palmieri. The videos are from the Alfie Alvarado Archives.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bembe Ensemble

This photo was submitted by Scorpion, Akpwon and child of Chango. I believe the group is from Atlanta. I will try to get more information on who is who.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Alma Moyo 5.16.2009

Saturday, May 16, 2009 10:00 PM

Camaradas Bar & Restaurant
2241 1st Ave./ 115th Street
New York
View Map

Bomba has always been a tool for revolution and the celebration of freedom, and a means to cleanse our spirits from the everyday wind and grind of ordinary life. Join Alma Moyo, New York's most exciting Afro Puerto Rican ensemble, and celebrate life, love and Spirit together within an all embracing community dedicated to the preservation of our African legacy in Puerto Rico.

"Realize that You are involved in a situation that is a lot greater than who you are!!!" Sononfu Somé, Dagara People West Africa. We as descendants of a cultural legacy that stems back about 500 years are involved in something greater than we as individuals. Our Afro Puerto Rican cultural tradition, la Bomba, will ignite Camaradas Bar & Restaurant this Saturday Night and the voices of our ancestors will penetrate our very souls. Bomba has always been a tool for revolution and the celebration of freedom, and a means to cleanse our spirits from the everyday wind and grind of ordinary life. Join Alma Moyo, New York's most exciting Afro Puerto Rican ensemble, and celebrate life, love and Spirit together within an all embracing community dedicated to the preservation of our African legacy in Puerto Rico. starts at 10pm $5 Cover

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Central Park Rumba

I came across a nice little video clip out of Tito Sandoval's stash. Tito is a great dancer and drummer, and has been on the scene for quite some time already. I believe Willie has put up some Sports Bar clips in which you can see Tito throw down during a columbia. In any case, Tito is playing quinto in this one, and it looke like Eddie Rodriguez is playing tres dos, you can see Barry behind the bench, and we have none other than the great Miguel Martinez "El Llanero", singing gallo. Can anyone tell me the names of the other drummers? They look familiar.

(Rumba en El Parque Central, Video Credit: Mark Sanders)

Palo Dominicano

(Ilu Aye playing Palo at La Pregunta, Video Credit: Nicky Laboy)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

El baile que no termina...

(Los Afortunados at El Vacilon, Susan Sanabria - yemaya, Gene Golden- okonkolo, Felix Sanabria- iya, Brandon Rosser- itotele, Photo Credit: Susan Sanabria)

In Afro Cuban music, you cannot separate music and dance. Dance makes up an important third of the Song, Drum, Dance, triumvirate. Dancers such as Susan Sanabria, Pupy Insua, Rosalia Gamboa, Xiomara Rodriguez, have played a major role in keeping the traditions alive and well in NYC. I want to start highlighting a bit of the history behind several of the dancers that make up the NY scene. Hopefully I will be back with more info soon...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

More info regarding a rare Yoruba Andabo recording...

If you are a regular "Sentimiento" follower than you are probably already checking out "Vamos a Guarachar", Barry Cox's site who has been doing this kind of thing for sometime now. Barry's site includes alot of rare information and even rarer music downloads like the aforementioned "Cajones Bullangueros" recording that you can still get off of his site I believe.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

The Story of "Cajones Bullangueros"

(Versión en español aquí.)

My very first post when I started this blog was a link to some recordings by Yoruba Andabo I call "Cajones Bullangueros." A friend gave me a cassette copy of the recordings a few years earlier and it quickly became one of my favorite rumba records.

I digitized the tape, put the tracks on a CD and designed a little cover, calling the whole thing "Cajones Bullangueros," which I thought was an apt title, considering the instrumentation used and the inclusion of a standout track by that name. (Most of the other songs were later released (in different versions) on their classic "El callejón de los rumberos.")

(you want to read the rest, click here)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Vintage Los Afortunados

This was posted to Facebook by Susan Richardson-Sanabria's, Felix's wife. It is a great group pic and she even included some names. Wanted to share this piece of history with everyone.

(Photo Credit: Susan Richardson-Sanabria)

Per Susan:

Uh oh, I don't think I can name everyone in this picture. Los Afortunados and guest artists performed in Great Barrington, MA. Kneeling - Abe (Rodriguez), Pupi (Insua) and producer/ standing - Evelyn (Smart), Gina (Iyaleo), Felix (Sanabria), Carlos, Anita, Rita, Eddie, Xiomara, Susan (Sanabria)/ back row - Michael (Sotolongo), Victor (Jaraslov), musician, Orlando, trumpet, musician, Manuel. I tried with the names.