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Out of the Blue: The rhythm will not be contained

August 01, 2013|By Billy Fried
  • Drumhead company Remo shot this iconic photo of Poncho Sanchez and his Latin Jazz Band in a drum circle in Laguna Beach. Locals can be seen dancing in the background. The photo was subsequently used for promotional posters and catalogs.
Drumhead company Remo shot this iconic photo of Poncho… (Remo )

The Festival of the Arts made an unwise decision last Saturday to restrict people from dancing in front of the stage during the rousing performance by Poncho Sanchez and his Latin Jazz Band.

There was open space that screamed, "Come dance!" and people tried — but they were rebuffed by security, who told them they were blocking the view of seated people. This made the audience appear to be a bunch of old, repressed white people. And we know that's just not the case in Laguna!

By the second set the surge was working, to borrow a phrase from George Bush. Security could no longer prevent the infectious salsa rhythms from entering the synapses of the assembled and involuntarily sending them to the stage, where they writhed in ecstasy. Poncho flashed a big grin, and all he could say was "Where you been?" This ratcheted up the intensity of the whole performance, which is of course the whole point for musicians who play dance music.

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I mention this because we have a special love for Poncho, and he for us. Several times he exclaimed, "It's great to be home." He had been touring the world, but you could sense the love he has when performing with many of his family in attendance, on the beautiful lawn and stage at the Festival grounds. It was a wonderful atmosphere. While Poncho is actually from Norwalk, he regularly makes Laguna a tour stop. And a few years back I had a special encounter with Poncho here .

Exactly 10 years ago I was doing the marketing for a drumhead company called Remo. Some may recall their iconic logo on Ringo Starr's bass drum during the Beatles first appearance stateside on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964. It put Remo on the map. And I'm proud to say they still manufacture all their products in Valencia, California, USA. Imagine that. Anyway, Poncho is the star "signature" artist for their line of congas, meaning they produce a line of congas with his name on them.

One day in a client meeting we were bemoaning the fact that Remo had no good pictures of community drum circles, and they needed to visually express the great feeling of participating in one. The only problem was, they didn't want to spend any money to assemble a large group of people for a photo shoot. So I mentioned that I was about to have a birthday party on the sand in Laguna, and that if Remo provided food for my friends then surely they would waive their appearance fees and participate in the shoot (my friends are easy — just feed 'em).

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