Renowned timbalero, composer, bandleader and vocalist Mario Solomon is the leader of one of the hottest groups performing modern Cuban Dance music in the US: Mario Y Su Timbeko. Although Mario moved from Oakland to Austin, Texas during the pandemic, he hasn’t stopped his original music from coming out. His latest single “Sola Te Quedaste” follows three singles that he has released during the pandemic: “Llego Lo Que Te Esperabas”, “Lo Mas Grande” and “Nadie Sabe Nada”. These songs are to be released as an EP in the first quarter of this year. Mario Y Su Timbeko consisting of bassist Ayla Davila, guitarist David Lechuga, vocalist and keyboardist Jordan Wilson, pianist and recording producer Jason Moen and conguero Carlitos Medrano will be performing a special concert “Timbeko By The Bay at La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley on Saturday, February 12 starting at 8 pm.
Mario explained that the show is like taking a trip with the history of Cuban Music featuring traditional rhythms of Danzon, Cha Cha Cha, Boleros and Changui which will be the focus of the first set. The second set will feature original music with selections from the new EP. Many Bay Area-Northern California dancers and listeners alike are big fans of Timbeko’s infectious timba sound which contains elements of RnB, Gospel and Funk. Mario hopes to have copies of the EP ready to sell at the dance/concert. There will also be a dance after party with DJ Antonio included in the admission to the show. For more information on the concert, visit lapena.org. For more information on Mario Y Su Timbeko, check out their page on Facebook and Instagram.
Montuno Productions will be presenting a Valentine’s Day Concert as part of their Bay Area Latin Jazz Series at Oakland’s fine art deco California Ballroom located on 1736 Franklin Street. This triple billed show will feature the debut of Cuban jazz vocalist Jessy Diaz accompanied by 4 time Grammy award winner Oscar Hernandez of Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Edgardo Cambon and Candela and ending the show with be the MP All Star Salsa Project directed by pianist Israel “Izzy” Tannenbaum (formerly of Grupo Niche). I will be your Master of Ceremonies and DJ for the entire evening. Cuban food will be available for hungry patrons at the concert/dance. For more ticket information on this dance/concert, you can visit montunoproductions.com
Major cancellations and postponements continue due to the latest Omicron variant of the Coronavirus pandemic. The Victor Manuelle concert/dance scheduled for the Hyatt Regency in Burlingame has been postponed until Saturday, April 9th per show producers JC Coral and Bosco Vega. Cuban born Brother-virtuosos violinist Ilmar and pianist Aldo Lopez-Gavilàn protagonists of the film documentary Los Hermanos/The Brothers cancelled their scheduled January 23rd concert at U.C. Berkeley’s Zellerbach Auditorium. There is no rescheduled date for that show.
On the local club front, Oakland’s own Fresquecito Timba DJ monthly at La Furia Chalaca near Jack London Square produced by DJ Walt Digz was cancelled as well at the beginning of January but the event will be back in February. The Ramp in San Francisco has temporarily suspended their live and DJ music shows per order of the San Francisco Port. The Ramp is hoping to resume their live music dates in March. Other venues such as Space 550 just didn’t reopen in January but will reopen on February 11th with Julio Bravo y Salsabor headlining their Valentine’s Day weekend party. You may want to double check that the venue is still open and that live music is still going to be presented on the night that you are planning to go out.
A scene of many a popular, crowded club night, Lukas on West Grand and Broadway in Oakland the home of Thursday Cuban nights will close at the end of January. Ahi Na Ma, the production company in charge of the popular Cuban dance night featuring DJ’s Leydis and Antonio have announced that their weekly event will move to a new location soon to be announced.
Ex El Gran Combo vocalist Charlie Aponte will be visiting the SF Bay Area on Friday, April 1 at Roccapulco, 3140 Mission St. in San Francisco. Jaffe Events will be presenting the show. Look for Aponte to feature original material from his recordings as well as the many hit songs he recorded with El Gran Combo during his tenure with this great musical institution. It promises to be a smokin’ show!!
The Seahorse in Sausalito continues to buck the trend and continues to present live music on their outdoors patio stage on Saturday and Sunday evenings starting around 5 pm. They are featuring Orquesta Taino Feb 6, Karabali with Karl Perazo of Santana and Michael Spiro Feb 12, Louie Romero & Mazacote Feb 13, Salsa Caliente w/Gary Flores Feb 19, Edgardo Cambon & Candela Feb 20 and Braulio Barrera’s Somos El Son on Feb 27th. KPOO/KPFA DJ Jose Ruiz is the house DJ behind the decks.
Another venue that has stayed open for business in spite of this tough COVID time is the Cigar Bar, 850 Montgomery St. in San Francisco. You can still enjoy good drinks, fine food and a selection of cigars for your enjoyment. They have a full schedule on Fridays and Saturdays for February which includes Somos El Son Feb. 4, N’Rumba Feb. 5, Manteca, Feb. 11, Josh Jones Latin Jazz Ensemble, Feb. 12, La Clave Del Blanco, Feb. 18, Edgardo Cambon y Candela Feb. 19, The Latin Rhythm Boys Feb. 25 and Pacho Y Orquesta Evolution on Feb. 26. Schedule subject to change due to COVID so check their calendar to confirm acts. Visit their website at www.cigarbarandgrill.com
BY LUIS MEDINA, PRODUCER AND HOST OF CON SABOR ON KPFA 94.1 FM AND SABIDURIA CON TUMBAO ON WORLD SALSA RADIO.COM