Diego's Umbrella
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Diego's Umbrella

San Francisco, California, United States | SELF

San Francisco, California, United States | SELF
Band Rock


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Live Show Review: Diego’s Umbrella at the Independent, San Francisco"

Diego’s Umbrella headlined the Independent last Friday and sold out the venue, shook all the shins in the building, and played their asses off… and I couldn’t be more pissed. No one wants to read a review that’s all raves and panties on stage, but the San Francisco natives have left me no choice.

First off, I love a band that requires at least three adjectives to adequately describe their style almost as much as I love being thoroughly entertained while jumping up and down. They’re flamenco-ska, but they’re gypsy-mariachi, and then again they’re polka-pop-rockers who, just like the infamous crackly candy, wake you up with a disarmingly silly assault on your senses. My affinity for adjectives isn’t just for the sake of being verbose though. Here’s how I see it: The more genres, generally the more instruments; the more instruments, the more energy; and when high-octane entertainment can pull of high-quality as well, then everyone’s a winner. Especially the audience.

Both Diego’s albums, Viva La Juerga and Double Panther, are exciting twists on popular gypsy fusion, encompassing DeVotchKa’s dramatic sound and Gogol Bordello‘s intensity, with a Weird Al ability to make it all a little stranger and a lot more fun, especially with new tracks like “Kings of Vibration” and “Lesbians and Lasers.” Their fast-paced melodies and onstage theatrics were welcome additions to live scenes like this past summer’s Harmony Festival and Vans Warped Tour.

Each of the six band members could be a show unto themselves. Their names and respective instruments are obscured in their online information, but the cartoony character working a medley of percussion and guitar made such amusing facial expressions, he alone was worth the ticket price. Imagine the contorted face of a guy failing an eye exam while drunkenly trying to goad another much larger man into a fight; he stared down the crowd so ridiculously that they couldn’t help but get ridiculous too. And it wasn’t long before the multi-instrumental lead singer busted out a trombone while all six donned two-foot-tall letters on their heads illuminating D-I-E-G-O-S, and the electric violinist took his lighting into the crowd to surf while playing. No wonder their opening acts felt it necessary to start a drum circle and blow bubbles!

Diego’s, you devils, it seems you sang my critical spirit into a bounce-induced stupor until all I could think was: MORE!! How I wish I could find a bad thing to say. - Crawdaddy Magazine

"Pirate Polka Raids City"

‘Pirate Polka’ raids city
Diego's Umbrella mixes surf, Latin and polka to create distinct genre
by Kyveli Diener, staff writer
September 12, 2007 8:18 PM
Evocative of music legends like Sublime and the Buena Vista Social Club, Diego’s Umbrella coined a genre of its own—Mexicali Gypsy Pirate Polka.
As unusual as this self-proclaimed genre may sound, it fittingly describes the unconventional music created by five men who perform weekly in San Francisco and tour the West Coast. Their sound is a mix of everything from surf rock to traditional Latin music and, yes, polka.
While wearing vests and suit jackets, the band members play with intense focus and bliss, losing themselves in a passion for their instruments and the melding of sounds. They transition without losing their audience in a tempo that can switch from a fast-paced jig to a mellow beachside rock in an instant, while fans cheer for their favorite hits or as electric guitarist Tyson Maulhardt “yarrs” his way through a pirate-like remake of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues.”
Maulhardt and flamenco guitarist and vocalist Vaughn Lindstrom, both 29, started the band while attending UC Santa Cruz in the late 90s. According to Maulhardt’s mother, Fredene, she and her husband, John, bought their son a guitar because, “he was a kid with a lot of energy, and he took right to it.”
Since then, Fredene has witnessed an “evolution” in her son’s music and says it’s definitely “more soulful.”
“[Music is] his passion; it makes him happy,” she said.
With high school friend and 2003 SF State business alum Billy Phirman, 29, joining as their bassist, the group moved to San Francisco, where they met their first drummer at Trader Sam’s, a bar in the Richmond district. When Phirman quit to sell carpets, Maulhardt and Lindstrom tried to assemble a full band with musicians they had met in the city.
“There are three important things [when picking a new group member],” said Maulhardt. “You have to get along, musically connect, and share a vision for the future.”
After going through two drummers and one bassist, they found 26-year-old bassist Kevin Blair of Memphis and 23-year-old drummer Reese Bullen of Berkeley. The band’s distinctive sound came into being when Los Angeleno Jason Kleinberg, 36, joined as a violinist and accordionist.
This current line-up is only five or six months old. Alex Gibson, 29, a high school friend of Maulhardt’s, has been listening to the band for about seven years and has heard their sound change.
“They always had an eclectic flavor... It used to be more mainstream, more catchy, more pop surf rock,” he says. “The music now can be for young kids to old 45-year-olds.” In one evening at the Park Chalet, the band’s prime audience went from excited toddlers jumping to drunken adults falling over the amplifiers.
SF State English professor Alex Maurice is a regular at their Tuesday night performances.
“They’re a very eclectic band, they play different music and they come say hello to you. The band has me come here, I would go elsewhere for Taco Tuesday,” he said.
Phil Burnett, 30, is Maulhardt’s house mate, living where the band’s debut album, “Kung Fu Palace,” was recorded. He knew the men when no other band wanted them, and watched as they gained a following.
“They’ve grown as musicians,” said Burnett, a fourth grade teacher who graduated from SF State in 2004 and received his teaching credentials here in 2006.
“They’ve gone in separate ways musically and then brought it together. Vaughn has that Latin flamenco sound and Tyson grew up at the beach so he has that soul sound, maybe Hendrix. They work well together to make a sound that no one else has.”
- SFSU Express

"Nice music to play at a barbeque"

Nice music to play at a barbeque
“Kung Fu Palace”, the debut album by San Francisco based Diego’s Umbrella, fuses a surf-rock sound with Latin-flamenco sensibility to make a damn enjoyable album. Much like nachos (not in that they are cheesy) their sound is warm, good, and sticks to your insides. Yes, I just used warm and good to describe them, but that fits the D.U. mantra. These are songs for a summer day, mixing melodious odes, virtuoso guitar-work, and the occasional chanting chorus.
The surf-acid-rock mixed with flamenco guitars, felt like it would fit in swimmingly in a Tarantino movie – and the album flows better when they stick to this formula. Such is the case with tracks “Julianna” (arguably their best song), and “Never Hit the Ground”. Occasionally the album delves into a blue grassy space that seems a bit convoluted even with strong work on the violins and/or mandolins. “Waltz of Anne Marie” was one of these bluegrass numbers that took a while to hit full stride, but the mandolin solo is excellent.
Singer Vaughn Lindstrom’s voice is harrowing and reminiscent of some earlier Wayne Coyne which plays perfectly with Tyson Maulhardt’s axe-work (although I don’t know if a steel guitar could ever be called an axe?). The blues and Latin influenced rhythm section of the band in drummer Michael Pinkham, and upright bassist Kevin Blair is thorough throughout and melds well with the aforementioned Maulhardt.
All in all, this album is one that can be enjoyed under many circumstances.
Specifically: while driving a mountain road or while flipping a hot dog in your backyard or while leisurely jogging through Golden Gate park.
Less so doing the following: listening on your IPOD while trying to pump yourself up to hit that 15 foot cornice or outrunning the cops in your 1985 Pontiac Firebird.
- Ovahere.com

"You Guys Laughing At Me? ALBUM REVIEW"

review by: Avi Shaked
Four years after its release, Maelstrom was finally ready to review this Diego's Umbrella album. But seriously, and regardless of the band's peculiarity, I have no idea why it is only now that this album arrived at my doorstep (especially since it looks like the label, Minor Miracle Records, is no longer in business, which means this release is now defunct). Roberto (our editor) might shed some light on the issue. (Roberto says, "bleh?")
But to the point: Diego's Umbrella was possibly ahead of its time, and perhaps still is. Just when you think that every possible fusion of genres have been tried out, these San Francisco guys introduce their blend of Mexican, Latin, hip-hop, jazz and rock music. It's far from being a smooth integration, though: the opening Latin number soon makes way for a surf-rock song with a slight update of generic ‘60s songwriting, and only then a somewhat original and more nuanced breeze comes in the form of the Morricone-styled instrumental "Schorching Hot Schorcher 2." A record-scratching led song with a Cuban laid back chorus follows and leads to a hazy song that features a nice jazzy guitar.
The band doesn't take itself too seriously and incorporates a few expendable, silly passages into the half-hour album (e.g. "Borng Horker").
There are moments in which the band proves its unique voice (the aforementioned "Schorching Hot Schorcher 2," and the direct, Spanish guitar-dominated pop-rock song "32") and I guess people who are more affectionate than I am towards hip-hop and Latin music will have a better appreciation of this blend. Even so, more cohesiveness is certainly needed, and I'm curious to hear if the band made any progress with its 2006 release, Kung Fu Palace (look for our review three years from now!) (6/10)

All related articles (interviews, live, from the vault)

- Maelstrom

"Diego's Got Lasers and Lesbians"

by Jeff Vincent

Diego’s Umbrella absolutely lit Saint Rocke on fire Saturday night with their muy caliente Latin-gypsy-polka, rocking jam-fusion music (if that makes any sense at all). They’ve been aptly described as a “Mexi-Cali gypsy pirate polka rock & roll band.” This is one of the most high energy and fun performances the South Bay can enjoy. There must be something in the drinking water up in San Francisco that makes people like this so crazy.

Every member of Diego’s Umbrella is a compelling character and performer. Together, they brought a quirky, brilliant performance to an energized audience rapt in laughter and dance. Their stage presence was completely engaging and almost melodramatically theatrical: gesticulating madly, with their red, matador-esque marching band uniforms (complete with those funny Tex-Mex style ties). Then before you knew it, the acoustic guitarist and violinist were jamming beside you in the audience. They marched right off that stage, and didn’t quite stop there, not without the guitarist grabbing a good view of you from the bar top counter. One poor soul took the stage for a Latin-gyp-polka “Happy Birthday,” Diego style, before being told “Happy birthday, now get the f— off the stage…do a stage dive and get the f— off the stage,” (in playful humor, of course).

Diego’s songs can be serious as well as playful, and all the boys in this band are equipped with good voices. “I’ve got my lasers, I’ve got my lesbians…” were some of the more hilarious lyrics coming from the stage. And when the guitarist ordered a pitcher of water, he received affectionate heckling from band mates; “I hope you get electrocuted, you fairy.” While Diego’s Umbrella emits an overt sense of humor and play, their music remains top notch and complex. The band is centered around electric violin and nylon-stringedd guitar; the drummer pounds a freaked-out barrage onto his kit; the bass booms and thumps into your hips and feet; a trombone appears, tambourines rattle, and one of the three guitarists also tends to a percussion station that’s complete with antlers, pipes and pressure gauges. An infused spectrum of sound painted the air within Saint Rocke — a modern construction pulling from earlier realms of gypsy, Latin, polka, ska, reggae — and it’s all driven by mad scientists in crazy uniforms, rocking their instruments with a ferocity and precision of shocking degree. One must wonder where on earth such a unique but effectual sound originates. (I can envision these boys driving the insanity and festivity of some kind of Spanish oompah mutation of Munich’s Oktoberfest.)

The theme of Saturday night’s show was: Fun. Diego’s Umbrella isn’t just a performance, it’s an experience. If you missed the crazy train on this one, be sure to get yourself a ticket when they come back around in July. Easy Reader will keep you informed. - Easy Reader

"Diego's Umbrella - Viva la Juerga"

Diego’s Umbrella is yet another example of the great variety of music coming out of the San Francisco Bay Area right now, and also a sign that there really is no longer a “San Francisco Sound.” The “Spanish surf” groove for which this band has become known is as strong as ever on its latest release, Viva La Juerga.

Even a cursory listen to the classical guitar and violin-laden instrumental “Theme of the Glowing Amigo” will conjure images of wandering sombrero-topped musicians performing in Mexican restaurants on Mission Street. And yet as “Here As I Lay” begins, the vocals and electric guitar are outright American pop rock. The reggae-like beat and accordion further place the song in its own world pop universe, and with its memorable “Do you like me now that I’m gone?” chorus, “Here As I Lay” plays like a potential hit single for those who like the idea of a Latin-tinged Sublime.

The most extreme example of genre jumbling is “The Fiberoptic Elflord.” The title says all one needs to know about the fantastical silliness running through the lyrics. However, it says nothing about the sound. Starting with a vaguely Brazilian beat underneath a scratchy record effect, adding a ska-inflected verse, throwing in some dub reggae flourishes in the chorus, and with some polka madness stirred in as well, the end result is uncategorizable except to say that whacked prankster side of Mr. Bungle lives on in spirit here.

With Viva La Juerga, Diego’s Umbrella has created a worldwide smorgasbord of fun music that ultimately plays like a cultured clown’s party mix. There’s no grand, sweeping theme tying together all of the disparate elements, but this may result in an album that sounds more like just a collection of songs than a solid whole, it suits the tone of the material just fine.


-Michael Fortes
Performer Magazine - Michael Fortes


Double Panther, 2009
Viva La Juerga, 2007
Kung Fu Palace, 2006



San Francisco’s ambassadors of gypsy rock, Diego’s Umbrella captures California’s cultural multiplicity with enthusiasm, humor and decadence.

These urban, gringo mariachis have performed more than 1,000 live shows at clubs and festivals across the U.S. and Europe. The band’s lively, unforgettable, heavy-hitting stage show has visually and aurally captivated diverse audiences from all walks of life. Influenced heavily by flamenco, klezmer, Eastern European and Latin sounds, Diego’s Umbrella has introduced the world to a new kind of popular music: Gypsy Rock. They possess a pop sensibility and punk rock energy with sounds reminiscent to that of Gogol Bordello, Devotchka and Muse.

While the origins of Diego’s Umbrella date back to the 2001, with the collaboration of founding members Vaughn Lindstrom (acoustic guitar, vocals) and Tyson Maulhardt (electric guitar), they officially hit the scene in 2005 with the release of their first full-length album Kung Fu Palace. Violinist Jason Kleinberg and bassist Kevin Blair came on board early in the project, and the 6-some was rounded out by Ben Leon (vocals, guitar) and Jake Wood (drums) in early 2009.

The Group has released 3 albums including Viva la Juerga ’07, Double Panther ’09, and a host of independent recordings. They have been featured in major motion pictures, network television, and numerous documentaries, in addition to countless worldwide radio and print. Currently, they are in the studio working on a new EP to be released later this summer.

Viva la Juerga!!!

"Both Diego’s albums, Viva La Juerga and Double Panther, are exciting twists on popular gypsy fusion, encompassing DeVotchKa’s dramatic sound and Gogol Bordello‘s intensity."
-Crawdaddy Magazine

“With guitars straight out of a Tarantino movie, the group seamlessly blends mariachi, gypsy, flamenco and ska into one beer-soaked fiesta, with song topics varying from heartache to revolution.”

"Diego's Umbrella has created a worldwide smorgasbord of fun music that ultimately plays like a cultured clown's party mix."
-Performer Magazine