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Lo Mato @ Amoebapalooza 2007 - Punk Rock Salsa?

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, August 15, 2007 02:53pm | Post a Comment

I never suspected Matt Polley to be a Hector Lavoe fan. He’s a kid from Indiana and well…he looks the part. So when he asked me to perform with him at this year’s Amoebapalooza covering Hector Lavoe and Willie Colon songs, I was a bit surprised. Amoebapalooza is fun as far as seeing your co-workers live out their rock and roll fantasies, but it’s usually just that -- rock band after rock band with a smattering of folk, experimental music and Electronica. Salsa at Amoebapalooza? I’ve always been a punk at heart, so playing Salsa at Amoebapalooza would be more punk rock than actually playing punk rock.

Matt and I talked about it for weeks before Amoebapalooza. We signed up as "Lo Mato" and then went combing the store for people who would want to perform with us. We found two people. Cashier Ricky Ray Rivera was down, as was Erick, who works in the Reggae and Hip-Hop section. Erick and Ray were to play percussion as well as sing the chorus...so that meant me on bass, Ray and Erick on percussion and Matt Polley as Hector Lavoe.

Paul Vasquez, who works in the World Music section, wanted to get in on the action. He told Polley he had a trombone and although he hadn’t played in a while he would start practicing. He had not picked up a trombone since elementary school. For Paul to pull off the Willie Colon parts would be nothing short of a miracle! Most professional trombone players would find the task difficult. So it meant a rusty trombone player as Willie Colon.

Weeks went by and we hadn’t practiced once. Amoebapalooza was a week away and Matt was in a slight panic. He had found a piano player and a drummer and by then Paul had backed out, so we had no horns. I called my friend Pat Hoed to take over for me on bass. He is a huge Willie Colon/Hector Lavoe fan so he knew all the songs already. I switched to the keyboards and got my friend Jeremy Keller on guitar to help me play the horn lines. We learned the horn lines an hour before our first and only rehearsal.

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El Cantante - The Hector Lavoe Made for Television Story

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, July 13, 2007 02:29am | Post a Comment
el cantante
Thanks to director Leon Ichaso, I got to see an advance screening of the film El Cantante. Ichaso found out that I’m a huge Hector Lavoe fan, so he invited me to see the film. To me, the Willie Colon albums with Hector Lavoe singing rank up there with such albums as Sgt. Pepper’s, Pet Sounds, What’s Going On?, Innervisions, London Calling, Straight Outta Compton, Nevermind & Low End Theory. They are that good.

Lavoe’s story is legendary. His voice captivated a generation and pushed Salsa into the forefront. In the Fania Records heyday, the artists were filling up concert halls all over the world, including selling out Yankee Stadium. There were many talented musicians that were responsible for making Fania a giant in the record business, but Hector was Fania’s rock star. With that came his tragic rock star life.

In the movie, Marc Anthony has the daunting task of playing Hector Lavoe. For not being a Marc Anthony fan I think he does adequate job of it. During the film, especially during the live sequences, it's easy to forget Marc isn’t Hector. The same cannot be said about J-Lo. Jennifer Lopez plays the part of Lavoe’s wife, Puchi, and she never stops being J-Lo, perhaps her biggest downfall as an actress. There are very few moments when she slips out of the J-Lo role and is somewhat believable. Most of the film is done as a narrative from Jo-Lo’s character's point of view, a la a Behind The Music piece. It would have been better to skip that all together and perhaps develop a better script that gave the characters more depth. The rest of the cast is only serviceable, just enough to keep the story moving along. Besides the script never allowing the supporting cast room to develop, it never showed the development of the revolutionary style of music called Salsa. The way the film portrayed the origins of Salsa was as if the style developed overnight. rather than showing it was music that developed through time. The movie's pace seemed better suited for a T.V. movie. I wanted more from this movie than it could ever give me. levoe

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