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:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=O8T9vMg1_wU
http://youtube.com/watch?v=WFJeTHPQAmo

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)