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Band Latin World


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"Celebrate the season with Samecumba's Latin beats"

Now that we're past Thanksgiving and en route to Christmas, the byword is holiday cheer. A good deal of partying must be accomplished in the next three weeks, and a superb way to inaugurate the holiday festivities would be to trip the light fantastic via the Latin rhythms of Samecumba. That opportunity will present itself to Triangle dance and music lovers tonight at the ArtsCenter in Carrboro.

Samecumba -- a contraction of Salsa, Merengue and Cumbia -- was founded in June of 2001 by David Martinez, Jesse Rivera and Ricardo Diquez. Martinez, a Durham resident, grew up in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He arrived in the Triangle ten years ago to work for Kodak and attend Durham Tech Community College. A bass guitarist who is the son of a bass guitarist, Martinez kept his music going while attending Durham Tech and working. He graduated with an AAS Degree in Business in 2000.

While he was attending college, Martinez also played in a band called Grupo Cardi. Samecumba grew out of Grupo Cardi, Martinez said. Grupo Cardi was "a seven-piece all Salsa band" with a vocalist.

The band decided to drop the vocalist, and Samecumba emerged from the ashes as a six-piece band.

"When we started Samecumba, we decided to expand the repertoire we'd been playing with Grupo Cardi," Martinez said. "We'd been doing mainly Salsa, but most of us were club-goers too, and all the music that was being played in the clubs wasn't necessarily being played live by any band in the area. We wanted to incorporate Cumbia and Merengue rhythms as well as Salsa, and we were into Bachata, too, though we don't do Bachata now because we can't find a guitarist who can play it well enough."

Because a six-piece Salsa-Merengue-Cumbia band is not a satisfactory size in terms of instrumentation, Martinez and his bandmates increased the band to 10 members -- the current configuration.

When Samecumba was formed, the Triangle's Hispanic population was rapidly increasing. Despite that influx, "there wasn't really anyone playing Salsa or other Latin dance styles," Martinez said. "I know Carnavalito was out there -- and Ricardo [Granillo] has done a great job with that band -- but I've always considered them to be Latin Jazz more than anything. We wanted to play music that kept us in touch with our roots, and also we knew there were more and more people who wanted to listen and dance to this kind of music."

In 2001, Latin dance bands from outside the Triangle market were being booked in local venues. Martinez believed a solid Salsa band could be formed with Triangle-area musicians, and Samecumba is proof he was right.

Latin music in 2000 and 2001 was enjoying breakout success both nationally and locally. Every indication is that this is not a trend, but that it signals an arrival. Pilar Montas provided our local clue when she and husband Roberto opened Montas International Lounge in Durham in 2000. The venue, which specializes in a wide spectrum of Latin dance music, both live and via disc jockeys, took off immediately and remains one of the most successful music clubs in the Triangle.

Put on your sailing shoes and step inside the ArtsCenter this evening. David Martinez and his bandmates will get your blood moving.

"Philip Van Vleck charts our world's music and also writes for Billboard Magazine. You can reach him at"
- The Herald Sun

"1st Annual Caribbean Funkfest"

First Annual Caribbean Funkfest descends on Raleigh's Berkeley Cafe, Friday May17th, 2002. The Caribbean Sea surrounds, supports and infuses a diverse mix of cultures. Each has it's own unique history, its own flavors and its own ideals, but the proximity of each to its neighbor provides endless opportunities to share certain basic characteristics. From Spanish Conquistadors to English pirates, from West African slaves to American Jazz musicians many diverse groups have left indelible marks on the region. Over centuries these influences have mixed and melded into a rhythm, a scent, a lifestyle that has reached out beyond the shores of the Caribbean Sea to touch in equal weight all those who touch back.

Everywhere throughout the Caribbean there is music. Music is as central a part of all cultures as is diet or religion. Music is the greatest unifying force on the planet and it's through music that we present the unifying themes of the First Annual Caribbean Funkfest. You'll hear influences from Puerto Rico, Jamaica and the U.S. of A. You'll hear Salsa and Merengue. You'll hear Reggae and Ska. You'll hear Jazz and Funk. It'll all get really funky really fast. We promise!

There are more than twenty musicians involved in this year's Funkfest hosted by Raleigh's Berkeley Cafe. The bands featured are Samecumba, Evil Jungle and Dread34. Each band provides polished facets for the collective gem. The Berkeley Cafe provides the setting.

At that place where Salsa, Merengue and Cumbia meet while waiting for the Bachata, you will always find Samecumba's sound! This versatile group is integrated by musicians from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Puerto Rico. All of its members have been, at some point or another, involved in not only the local latin music scene but also in other scenes in their respective countries. Rock, Jazz, Fusion and academic music have also been part of each respective musician's repertoire. With the enthusiasm and desire to be part of the urban music scene, adding a Caribbean flavor, its only reason for existence, Samecumba is the latin sound made in North Carolina!

Evil Jungle
Evil Jungle is a Jazz/Funk/Groove band from Raleigh, NC. The Jungle started as a three-piece Jazz combo in 1999. It's gone through a couple of changes in the meantime but gets more and more solid the longer it's around. The Jungle plays music heavily influenced by Jazz and the groovy 70's Funk sound so stereotypical of porn soundtracks. The lyrics are wry and often tongue in cheek, tending to center on the difficulties found in modern relationships. "...listening to these guys makes me want to go out and join a band." --the Restroom Review

Dread34 plays a unique blend of Reggae, Ska, Rock and Jazz in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area of North Carolina. They sweat, you sweat! That's the deal you make at a Dread34 show. It's an immutable physical law. If Dread34's on stage playing, there are people on the floor dancing. Whether its a couple hundred festivalgoers at the famous Cat's Cradle or the waitstaff at the trendy Southend Brewery, it's impossible to hear Dread34's music and keep still. They're just a bunch of guys who get together to have fun making music. If they don't have fun no audience will have fun, so fun is Dread34's primary goal. They're not out to set a world speed record on guitar. They don't play all the chords they know in every song. They try not to preach. Dread34 makes you dance.

The Berkeley Cafe
Since the early 1980's, The Berkeley Cafe has supplied the Triangle Area of North Carolina with it's best live music at 217 W. Martin St. in Raleigh. The Berkeley's funky, laid back atmosphere has drawn the attention and praise of nationally known Blues artists and local guitar heroes. If you've not taken that little offbeat ride downtown to hear some of the most awesome music you will ever hear, do it tonight or soon. The Berkeley Experience awaits. The new nighttime management is headed up by Jim Shires, a veteran of live music venues such as the Lake Boone Country Club and the Five Points Pub. He has been working with bands since 1989 and promises to bring wonderful new changes to the quality and presentation of the Berkeley's nighttime music scene. Already, there is a new stage and sound system, a newly remodeled music room, and new bands on the roster. Please come down on Friday May 17th, 2002 to support the first annual Caribbean Funkfest and Jim as he leads the Berkeley into the new millennium.

Friday, May 17th, 2002
Admission is $7.00 per person.
Showtime is 10pm -

"2nd Annual Caribbean Funkfest"

Raleigh, NC, March 10th, 2003 - The second annual Caribbean Funkfest will be held at 9pm on Saturday May 3rd, 2003, at The Berkeley Cafe, 217 W. Martin Street in Raleigh, NC. Dread34, Samecumba and Flav-O-Rich will perform. Each band will play a set of its own style of music and then all 20-some musicians will take the stage for a final jam session which will include reggae song, a latin tune and a funk selection.

Dread34 plays a clever blend of reggae, ska, rock, jazz and funk in the Triangle area of North Carolina. We sweat, you sweat; that's the deal at a Dread34 show. It's a credo that the members of Dread34 take pretty seriously. It doesn't take long for our reggae rhythms and infectious grooves to bring you to your feet and keep you moving... for the rest of the night. It's that energy that anyone who's been to a Dread34 show will vouch for, and it's one of the reasons music fans keep coming back.

Samecumba , at the crossroads where both the salsa and merengue meet, while waiting for the cumbia, you will always find our sound! Samecumba is a latin music project formed by musicians from North Carolina. So, out of these three caribbean rhythms, the acronym "Samecumba" came to be. "Sa" for salsa, "me" for merengue and "cumba" for cumbia. With all the enthusiasm and desire to be part of the urban music scene with a Caribbean flavor, its only reason for its existence, Samecumba is the latin sound made in North Carolina!

Flav-O-Rich is a six-piece band from Raleigh, North Carolina. Drawing from our influences both past and present, Flav-O-Rich combines funk, rock, pop, soul, jazz and blues to create a diverse and refreshing sound. Complex melodies flow over funky, percussion-heavy grooves with hip-shaking bass lines. This is music to move to.

Since the early 1980's, The Berkeley Cafe has supplied the Triangle Area of North Carolina with its best live music. The Berkeley's funky, laid back atmosphere has drawn the attention and praise of nationally known blues artists and local guitar heroes. Many musicians have cut their teeth on the Berkeley stage, only to go on to bigger and better things. Some of the great blues players who have taken the Berkeley stage include Gregg Allman, Matt "Guitar" Murphy, The Nighthawks, Tinsley Ellis, Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers, Skeeter Brandon and Hwy. 61, Kenny Neal, Larry Hutcherson, Arlo Guthrie, Commander Cody, and many, many others. If you've not taken that little offbeat ride downtown to hear some of the most awesome music you will ever hear, do it tonight or soon... The Berkeley Experience awaits.

The second annual Caribbean Funkfest is shaping up to be a bigger party than its predecessor. A very diverse group of people enjoyed gathering and dancing to an equally diverse group of musical styles at last year's show and this year's event will build upon what has immediately become a downtown Raleigh tradition. David Martinez, bass guitarist in Samecumba, remembers, "My favorite memory from the first installment was definitely the jam session to close the show," and Thomas Szypulski, Dread34's bassist agrees, "The jam session at the end was phenomenal. We had all three bands on stage at the same time letting loose on a reggae song, a latin tune and a funk selection. There were more than twenty of us up there and we were playing as a unit. The audience really dug on it, too. It was one of the best times I've ever had on stage."

That good time vibe translates to the audience. "Five minutes after the end of the first Caribbean Funkfest," Szypulski continues, "people began asking me if they'd really have to wait another year before we did it all again. That's the kind of good time I want the people who attend this year's show to have, too. I want them to be so high on the music, so adrenalized by the dancing and so together with the people with whom they've spent the evening that they take that happiness with them out of the club and into their lives."

"I really hope we can recreate that feeling at this year's show. It was totally magical. The audience danced from the very start of the event till the very end and that jam just brought the house down," says Szypulski. The second annual Caribbean Funkfest will "be as fun as, if not better than last year's installment," agrees Martinez. Samecumba and Dread34 are veterans of the first Caribbean Funkfest. This year's show introduces Flav-O-Rich, replacing the now defunct Evil Jungle. Kurt Schlatzer, percussionist for Flav-O-Rich looks forward to the show because it will showcase "incredible musicians pouring their hearts and souls out to the dancing masses."

Martinez expects a larger audience this year based on the buzz generated after last year's show. Szypulski explains why: "I hope we'll have a greater response from the community at large. We want to bring an experience with these lesser known styles of music to a wider audience, beyond the faithful fans of our three bands. Music is a unifying force an -

"3rd Annual Caribbean Funkfest"

Irie vibes, Latin rhythms and funky grooves – it's time to dance at the Third Annual Caribbean Funkfest!

The Third Annual Caribbean Funkfest will be held at Montas International Lounge, 2223 E. Highway 54, Durham, NC on Friday May 28, 2004. Bands performing will be founding acts Samecumba and Dread34 with Flav-O-Rich returning for a second engagement. Flav-O-Rich will begin the night's festivities at 10:30pm, followed by Dread34 and Samecumba. The fiesta will end with a jam session involving all three bands.

Montas International Lounge, located at the Research Triangle Park in Durham, is a social club where an interesting international clientele comes together to enjoy a great atmosphere of music and dance. Montas maintains an upscale establishment and asks its members and guests not to wear jeans, tennis shoes or athleticwear. Cover charge for the third annual Caribbean Funkfest is ten dollars ($10.00).

Dave Martinez, bass guitarist of of Samecumba, describes the sound of his band as "highly energetic and infectious, traditional, old school salsa, merengue & cumbia music." He says the multicultural aspect of the evening's festivities is important, "We unite three diverse and very distinct musical styles into one huge event, bringing different races, cultures and--most of all--great musicians together."

"Our sound is retro funk with fresh squeezes of R&B, dance, psychedelic, and alternative pop," says Flav-O-Rich percussionist Kurt Schlatzer. "There are a lot of bands in the Triangle area, but there are few that have as many members or the depth of experience as each of the bands represented in the third annual Caribbean Funkfest. Even though each band brings a unique sound to the party, we all work together to create a vibe that promotes celebration, unity and peace. It's also a testament to each band that we are still together, year after year, to continue this tradition. It just gets better each year and it feels like this event is maturing. When a club like Montas, with a reputation for quality, wants to host our festival it validates the third annual Caribbean Funkfest as a quality event."

Bass player Thomas Szypulski says Dread34's sound is a unique mix of reggae, ska, rock, funk and jazz. He agrees with Schlatzer, "Having our yearly fiesta at Montas gives the Funkfest a legitimacy it hasn't enjoyed before. Montas is a top-notch dance club and is known as the Triangle's home of all things Caribbean, so having the third annual Caribbean Funkfest at Montas seems the natural and right thing to do." Szypulski confirms the theme is indeed unity. "Danceability is really the key. That connection between the rhythm of the music, the feet on the floor and the beat of the human heart is an analogy for the connectedness of all Humanity. The musicians and the audience will be very diverse ethnically and culturally but we will be united in the music."

Martinez echoes a note of permanence regarding the bands. "We are still here," he says. "We won't go away anytime soon and we are among the best bands in the area in our respective styles. Holding a third installment of the Funkfest speaks volumes about our bands and our longevity. We must all be doing something right!"

Szypulski adds, "I have good friends in all three of these bands. All three of these bands have very busy performance schedules and we don't get to see each others' shows very often because we all seem to play on the same nights. So, the Funkfest is sort of a family reunion for me. On a very personal level, I look forward to the jam session, the show's final act. The power of almost thirty musicians on stage playing from their hearts and the love returned by the audience is a feeling that can shake you to your core. It's intimate and at the same time universal."

Schlatzer summarizes, "For many people, 2003 was a tough year and 2004 is already providing us with its own challenges. The third annual Caribbean Funkfest is a celebration of unity, peace, optimism and positive vibes. Listen to the music that makes life great and lead a life that would make great music. Get up and let the rhythms move you!"

"The end-of-the-night jam session involving all the musicians is an energetic explosion of music and life," Martinez adds, "so come ready to dance and to experience one incredible show!"

Roberto and Pilar Montas remind us, "Music is a force that unites people & cultures and Montas is well known for its internationally diverse clientele. We look forward to hosting the third annual Caribbean Funkfest, Montas' first experience at offering an equally diverse group of musical styles together in one night. Let's party."

"Come downtown for a fiesta! Music, crafts, food, children’s activities and more highlight annual Fiesta Latina"

ASHEVILLE — For Ruben Orengo, it’s about getting together. And that’s a key ingredient for Fiesta Latina, the annual celebration happening Saturday on Pack Square. “I see more and more Latin people at the festival,” said Orengo, whose band Picante performs at the celebration. “It really gets the Latin community out. And I’m seeing more diversity in the Latin community — people from Colombia and Chile, where before it was (mostly) people from Mexico.”

The biggest change this year may be the location; it is moving back downtown after having been held in recent years in West Asheville.

But the format is basically unchanged with native foods, arts and crafts, family and kids, activities, and live music. More than 8,000 festival attendees get together each year to celebrate the diversity of Latin American people who make their homes here in Western North Carolina.

The music
Headlining the festival is SAMECUMBA, a Durham-based, highly energetic and infectious traditional, old-school salsa dura, Merengue and Cumbia Latin music ensemble. The ten-piece dance band is an award winner for best international/salsa/reggae band in the Triangle. The group’s name originates from “‘Sa’ for Salsa, ‘me’ for Merengue, and ‘cumba’ for Cumbia.”

Another heavy hitter in Fiesta Latina’s lineup is Atlanta’s Mandorico, who have graced many area stages from packed clubs to summer festivals. The band is touring in support of its third studio album, “Strong Fire,” which will be available at the event. Mandorico’s Web site describes their frenetic live show as “horns, percussion, loud guitars and multiple vocals smashing together urban rock, reggae, Latin and punk ...”

Regional acts this year include Cabo Verde, a Flamenco band based out of Asheville, Obbligato from Hendersonville, and Asheville’s Picante, featuring Orengo on acoustic and electric violin, Warren Gaughan on piano, Dave de la Rosa, on guitar and vocals, Ronnie Delerme on Latin percussion, Joel Pressman on bass and Spencer Bolejack on percussion.

Festival coordinator Sara Nunez describes the musical offerings at this year’s event as “a nice, multicultural mix — there are people from different countries in each band.”

The festival’s history
“Fiesta Latina came together as a way for different North Carolina Latin cultures to get together and celebrate culture,” said Nunez. The event is sponsored by the YMI Cultural Center, and is made possible through the efforts of community volunteers, like Nunez.

“I’ve been involved with (Fiesta Latina) in some way or another for the past four years,” Nunez says. “I told (the YMI) that I wanted to get more involved (this year), so this is my first year as festival coordinator.”

The food
Revelers looking for corndogs will likely be out of luck. The event places a strong emphasis on “celebrating Latin American culture with native foods,” Nunez said. There will be authentic Latin American and Caribbean treats and beverages, from countries throughout North and South America. This is an alcohol-free event.

Family fun
Bring the children because Fiesta Latina includes activities for young people.

“We’re going to have a pinata, flamenco dancing lessons, and crafts.” In addition, there will be storytellers, artisans, and free health screenings for the entire family throughout the day.

Where to park
As with all downtown festivals, some space is available on the street, but meters must be paid on Saturday. Or check around the area city and private parking lots. Don’t leave your car anywhere that a no parking sign is posted; it could be towed.

- By Laura Blackley of the Citizen-Times of Asheville, published on September 16, 2005


Our 8-song debut CD "Samecumba Llego" should be released anytime now. Stay tuned!


Feeling a bit camera shy


Samecumba is a Latin dance band, formed by different musicians living in and/or out of the state of North Carolina. The popular growth of the Salsa, Merengue and Cumbia Latin rhythms, make it imperative for the presence of a band where all these styles of music can be found. From these three rhythms, the band's name came to be; "Sa" for Salsa, "me" for Merengue and "cumba" for Cumbia.

Samecumba has had a very busy performing schedule since its inception, back in June of 2001. They have shared the stage with many big name acts such as as La Sonora Dinamita, La Banda Flakka, Luisito Rosario y su Orquesta, the Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, Rey Norteno and Santino. Many of Samecumba's former and current musicians have been involved in the local, national and international Latin music scenes previously, in both recordings and performances with Roberto Roena y su Apollo Sound, Richie Ray, Hector Tricoche, Andy Montanez, Pedro de Jesus, Anthony Cruz, Tommy Olivencia, Carnavalito, El Grupo Cardi, Orquesta Tropical, Ciclon Band, Fusion Caribe, Sarengue, Songo, La Sexta Clave, El Grupo Camaleon, C4, Voces del Ayer, Charanga Carolina, Conjunto 23 and La Orquesta Gardel. Adding to this diversity, some of Samecumba's musicians have also been involved in many other styles of music as well, including jazz, funk, fusion, rock, soul, reggae, ska, rhythm 'n' blues, heavy metal, folk and classical.

Samecumba es el sonido Latino hecho en Carolina del Norte!