Tuesday, August 12, 2008

In the name of the Timba, the Rumba, and the Changui

I don't know what's wrong (or right) with me for having this 'transition' in taste of music. No!.. don't get me wrong, I'm a Timbero first and foremost dot dot dot, BUT! for a bunch of weeks now, I've been listening to so much Elito Reve y su Charangon as well as music from another amazing band Dan Den (Viejo Lazaro ring any bells?).

It started with me looking for live bootlegged music of Michel Maza (I have my sources)... and found one that is now my favorite live songs: "El Zorreo", this song was full of Timba through Michel Maza's Timbero voice and the band of Elito Reve, but it had something else, it had an incredible amount of essence (sabor!) that is usually peppered in small amounts through most Timba songs I've heard so far - I almost want to call it "the other side of Timba", because it is more traditional than what I'm used to, which before I would have said: "Give me more funk", now I say: "Make it more traditional", but keep that Timba feeling in it. I wouldn't have thought it was possible until I heard Elito Reve y su Charangon, I CANNOT stop listening to it... it calls me: "A mi lo mismo me da, chicha que limona'!" when I'm in the middle of a meeting at work, or while talking to clients on the phone... sometimes I'm busy doing some work and all of the sudden I hear in my head: "Consumela!... lo que te den, COJELO!.... Cojelo que se te va!.... Aguanile Mai-Mai". It is driving me completely mad, which could be good since "In a mad world, only the mad are sane" ;)

I promised a bunch of people I would share some of my music so you can sample it and buy the CDs, of course you can't buy the live bootlegs, so those are just icing on the cake. Enjoy Elito Reve y su charangon: *My favorite songs of him (with Michel Maza's live performance included)

Listen to my favorite Elito Reve y su Charangon Songs Let me know what you think!

FYI: For some of you who do not know who Michel Maza is, he is "El Menor de la Salsa", "El Charanguero Mayor", the true voice of the old Charanga Habanera (ex-Vocalist) who recorded "Lola, Lola". Truly, one of my inspirations and one of the greatest Timberos out there.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Grupo Ashe - Pa'que se entere Seattle!

So far we've performed in 5 concerts (...with Grupo Ashe) and it's been great receiving such great welcome for cuban music in Seattle. I still get the "yeah, I like Timba...but" comments, but most of the time it's cool and friendly, pretty much the people I've talked to understand that Timba is here to stay. Also, it's been great sharing the stage with such great musicians, all of them Timba music fans.

I need to get new music, but haven't had time to research... maybe I should ask my DJ buddies... or maybe I should talk them into making blog post of new music they get (can I HINT! more than that?)... and yeah, unfortunately we HAVE TO research to find Timba still... but like timba.com tells me, there might be a shift in culture when it comes to the white house decisions and Cuba. Hopefully something good will come with the new government, but enough about politics (I don't want to go there)... one last thing, somebody should drive to the outside of the white house, take a boombox and lift it just like John Cusack on the Movie "Say Anything" (click link to know what I'm talking about)... with some Loud Timba music, I suggest some Van Van or Charanga Habanera song to rattle their cages, literally.

I have a few videos I've uploaded to youtube, didn't have enough time so didn't do anything fancy on them... I don't even know why I should. The first one is sang by Miguelito Baez, an amazing singer from Puerto Rico... Miguel is one of those singers that don't even have to try to sound good. If Miguel is reading this, Miguel just send me the check $ later. Enjoy the videos from Grupo Ashe, the Northwest first Timba band. I suggest you click on the "High Quality" link in the video to get a more decent video (makes sense, doesn't it?)

Grupo Ashe - "Marcando La Distancia"

Grupo Ashe - "Llego la Musica Cubana"

Monday, May 5, 2008

Timba Training Resourses

I spent some time gathering as much training material and resources I could find in my computer. Feel free to let me know of other sites or more material to post, I'm mostly interested in the expansion of Timba Music and it's understanding around the world.

Timba training materials HOT
Timba Instrument Samples - Piano, Bass, Percussion
Timba - Understanding Cuban Rhythms
(From Timba.com - Excellent contribution to the Timba World by Kevin Moore)
Transcultural Music Magazine with topic: "Cuban Timba"
Very good read about Timba and Cuban Music overall.
Study of clave
(From Timba.com)
Conversations in Timba
(From Timba.com)
The Bass Style of Pedro Pablo Gutierrez
(Ex-Charanga Habanera original bassist)
Clave Analysis
(Charanga Habenera)
The Piano Style of Tirso Duarte
(Ex-Charanga Habenera Pianist)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Grupo Ashe - Concert Pics (Slideshow)

Here is a slideshow with pictures from the Nectar gig. Video is still being worked on so in the mean time:

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Grupo Ashe - Band Picture

I forgot last week to post the pictures' URL. Here it is: http://www.pedritovargas.com/promophotos.html - These are the people causing some disruption in Seattle's Latin scene. These are the troublemakers, the ones rattling cages, the ones bringing Live Timba to the Northwest scene (whether some like it or not): Grupo Ashe

Quick videos - Grupo Ashe

Quick videos from our first presentation/debut at Nectar. These three videos were taken by DJ Sammy from his cell phone. A high resolution video from that presentation will emerge soon and will be available online! I'll post the URL once it's up, in the mean time here is a quick glimpse of that night.

Thanks Sammy!

Monday, April 14, 2008

"La Llave" de Seattle

I had to share this song recorded by Seattle's own Julio "Chicho" Jauregui about 7 years ago (Yes, in his home studio - He wrote it, arranged it, and performed: Piano, Bass, Horn Synths, percussion, Coros and even the pregoneos - If this is not talent, then I don't know what is!). It had been a while since the last time I heard it, and it just brought back memories of the years when an elite group of latin musicians had the privilege of spending time in his "House of Music". This was totally a musician's lair, there was a Grand Piano in the corner, Percussion instruments, Mics everywhere, instruments that we brought with us and the always faitful "Habana Club", Peruvian "Pisco", and/or "Captain Morgan". Rehearsals officially lasted about 3 hours, and the other 4 hours were spent.. uhmm.. can't remember.. jk, it was mostly listening to music, jamming, and brainstorming music ideas for upcoming concerts. Friendship, I think, was key to our chemistry on stage, and it would have been very difficult to achieve that without spending time in that little north-Seattle basement. That experience had a great impact in our musical and personal lives, that's for sure.

Enjoy "La Llave" by Julio "Chicho" Jauregui.

Youtube videos of Julio:

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

10 Years of Timba

It has been about a decade since the first time I heard Timba Cubana. It was at a time when I was pretty disappointed about the status of salsa music. My only option was to look back and remember the golden eras of Salsa, Rumba, y Guaguanco. I was hitting the Hector Lavoe and Fania music really hard, subsequently falling completely crazy for it. For me, at the time there was no "now" for salsa music. It had evolved (or may I say: "Devolved") into mostly watered-down versions of yesterday's music. I just couldn't feel it, it was as if it didn't have much soul, heart, essence, and sadly no real purpose. It just didn't do it for me, but It didn't help that I was in a remote place (Seattle) where not a lot of Latin music was heard, back then.

At some point in the late 90s (I think '98)... my Dad decided to go back to Peru to visit relatives. I asked him to bring back some music from local bands like "La Progresiva del Callao", "Sensual 990", or "Camaguey" - AND I happened to say: "y Lo que este de moda" (whatever is "in"). When he came back, he had brought back with him a bunch of music mostly old stuff from the 60s, 70s, some from the 90s (80s music was banned in my house), and one cassette labeled: "Musica Cubana". I didn't pay much attention to the latter since at that point I was extremely ignorant about Cuban Music. I thought, like many people at the time, that Cuban Music hadn't grown much since the 50s or 60s... very beautiful, very traditional, but also too old for my taste (I was about 17 at the time, give me a break!). Well, a few days later I saw the cassette again and decided to play it. The first song was Manolito y su trabuco's: "y todavia no".

I don't think I need to explain what happened after that, though I would like to add that thanks to Timba I have been able to travel countless times to Cuba and also to my home land of Peru, in spirit. Music does interesting things to you, it can transport you to places you've never been before and make you feel as if you had been living there forever!

Is there such a thing as being too passionate about something? Probably, but not for music - Eso Nunca!.

I just uploaded this video yesterday to my youtube channel, coincidently it's "Y Todavia No" de Manolito y su Trabuco, enjoy!!!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Llego la musica cubana!

When Pedrito asked me (a while back) to join him in a Timba band he was putting together, I accepted truly thinking it wasn't really going to happen. I realize now and admit that I was wrong to think that, but I had my reasons: 1) I didn't know Pedro very well, 2) I didn't believe there was going to be much interest for Timba in Seattle, 3) I had heard so many failed attempts from other musicians wanting to brake the status quo of latin music in Seattle that my hopes of being in a Timba band had diminished to the point where I had accepted to be just a Timba listener. Not that there is anything wrong with being a listener, but my heart had always landed on performing timba music first and foremost.

Last Thursday's debut (04/03/08), Grupo Ashe helped me confirm how wrong I was to not believe in Pedrito at first. I understand now how passionate he was about the project and how much time, effort, and heart he has placed on it. I was also wrong to think that there was no audience for Timba, and to doubt the fact that a latin band can perform other than the established rhythms & songs that many thought were expected by the Seattle crowd, musicians and promoters. It's interesting to realize that I was as surprised and excited to be on stage singing "El Temba", as our audience were surprised and excited to hear a local band performing it. Even though I understand there is much to improve on, Grupo Ashe received many compliments that night, but the best compliment I heard was from a friend that has been to years and years of performances with me, and hear him say "This is the best band I've heard you perform with". Did I mention this was our first gig?

Last Thursday was more than the debut for Grupo Ashe, it was the rebirth of a timba fanatic, the energetic refueling I've been needing for so many years, and the birth of the idea that cuban music is now here, to stay!... ya llego la musica cubana!

Clips from Grupo Ashe's debut
(via DJ Thomas)