Looking for a lively way to kick off the three-day Memorial Day weekend? Oxnard-based DW Drums is sponsoring what it hopes will be the first in a continuing series of musical events — this one at the tapas bar Gasolina inside The Annex at The Collection. The free musical evening will take place on May 25, 6-10 p.m., and listeners can nosh on tasty Spanish tapas and sip sangria and/or great wines by the glass while listening to the sounds of Rumba Café in a setting that is reminiscent of a trip to Spain . . . but cheaper.
Rumba Café is a flamenco group formed in Los Angeles by Brazilian percussionist/drummer Julio Figueroa and Iranian guitarist Kambiz Pakan. The duo incorporates elements of flamenco music with jazz and Brazilian rhythms.
Figueroa, a São Paolo native, began playing at the age of 10. The Grammy and Latin Grammy Award-winner moved to L.A. in 1993, where he became much in demand both in the recording studio and on stage. He has performed with Celia Cruz, B.B. King, Jennifer Lopez and many others, and also leads workshops, seminars and lessons throughout the world.
“We are a flamenco-slash-world-music-oriented band,” Figueroa told me in a phone interview. “There’s a huge flamenco influence because of Kambiz ,who studied in Spain for 15 years. We will be performing a lot of his original music — with different elements within flamenco music: rumba, bulería, fandango and tango.”
The percussionist, who comes from a strong Latin/salsa/Brazilian musical background, says that combining the flamenco guitar with jazz and Brazilian rhythms is not very common. Usually, a cajón (a wooden box-shaped percussion instrument) is used in flamenco. For this concert, Figueroa is using a custom drum set that he created through trial and error by combining different percussion instruments.
“It will have the cajón but I will open up to more interesting sounds, from the more traditional flamenco setup to a world music setup with snare and bass drum cajón and some cymbals. You won’t see anyone else doing this,” Figueroa teased. “There are some imitators, but this is the real deal!”
Rumba Café might even bring in a guest bass player or dancer, depending on budget and space, and the event is intended to be family friendly.
“Kids are welcome — they can come up on stage and dance,” Figueroa added. “We want to make sure people have a good time! Hopefully we will accomplish that and have a party!”
The performance is being sponsored by LP Latin Percussion, Ovation Guitars and DW Drums (the parent company to LP and Ovation Guitars). Flamenco Night at The Collection is merely the most recent effort DW Drums has made to reach out to the community in a more tangible way in 2018.
The company recently launched the DW Music Foundation (DWMF), a nonprofit organization that connects “qualified, inspired artists and educators with music education programs in communities in need.” DW Drums believes that music is a gift that lasts a lifetime and that access to quality music education has the unique capacity to unlock creativity, develop critical thinking and leadership skills as well as boost self-confidence and enhance learning in core academic subjects.
“We’ve actually done a number of things, including a pilot music program with the Cook County Jail, which was studied as part of a doctoral thesis,” explains Publicity Manager Elizabeth Lang.
DW Drums has also partnered with the Notes for Notes music program, which provides youth with access to musical instruments, instruction and recording equipment. Notes for Notes recently got a boost from guitarist Richie Sambora as well: He is donating royalties from the sales of his new Ovation signature series guitar to the music program. DWMF helped organize the Cal Arts Annual World and Music Dance Festival, which took place in April, and hopes to host pre-K percussion classes at The Collection soon as well.
“At the end of the day, we’re a family-owned company and this has been a real passion project that has been supported by the [founding family] Lombardis and DW staff and artists who have supported it solely with their personal money and giving of themselves and their time,” says Lang of the DWMF. “As executive director, I wanted to baby step it without much fanfare so we could grow into ourselves, find what works and find good partners. We’re at the point now where I feel we’re ready to get the word out and spread our wings.”
DW Drums offers free factory tours of its Oxnard manufacturing facility on most Thursdays. Call 485-6999 to confirm dates and times. For more information, visit dwdrums.com. Rumba Cafe plays May 25 at Gasolina at The Annex, 550 Collection Blvd., Oxnard, 225-7210 or www.gasolinatapas.com.