Savor member since 2007
My first instrument was actually the Marimba. My father was the Marimba player for Xavier Cugat’s orchestra, and he started giving me Marimba lessons when I was eight years old.
But after a while, I realized that marimba wasn’t such a popular instrument – especially when I got into junior high and high school. By that time, I had started listening to a lot of Santana, and I got really turned onto the percussion. So I switched instruments.
Diving into percussion
Once I set my mind to it, I began immersing myself in the study of the timbales and congas, especially. But I didn’t give up the marimba. In fact, I also picked up a little keyboards, and began to practice my background and lead vocals.
Because by the time I began playing with groups, I realized that the more skills you had, the better the chance you would get the gig. As a multi-instrumentalist, I upped the odds quite a bit.
Eventually I got married and started having kids. Unfortunately, that did curtail my musical activities for a while, as I had to support my family. So I began working in kitchens and learning the fine culinary arts. However, I never gave up my love for music.
Since my work usually happened from early morning to early afternoon, I had evenings and nights free to play music – which is what I began to do. Sometimes going to work at 6 AM, and then playing music until one or two in the morning.
It wasn’t easy, but eventually I got used to it. And I was willing to make a sacrifice to keep playing music, which was my first love.
The Santa Barbara scene
Over time, I got the opportunity to work with a number of “local” Santa Barbara artists, like Kenny Loggins, Jose Feliciano, Michael McDonald, and others.
I went on the road with the Simon Shaheen Quintet, which featured an “unbridled fusion of Arab, jazz, Western classical and Latin American music.” We performed a lot in Israel, and in fact were traveling during 9/11, which was a very scary time, I can tell you. But the music was fantastic.
On joining Savor
Finally, I got a call to join Savor — which was wonderful. Paying homage to the Santana music that I grew up with is like a dream come true, and I enjoy every minute of it. While I still play music in other situations, it is gratifying to be in the band that takes me back to my first musical love: Santana.