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.