Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fiesta Premio Esmeralda: A Celebration of the Hispanic Contributions to Horse Racing in the Washington State.

I was invited this past Sunday to attend the “Fiesta Premio Esmeralda”, an event celebrating the contributions we as Latinos have made to horse racing in Washington State. The event consists of giving prizes in the name of Latino businesses or Latino-led organizations.

People from the Hispanic media, Latino Non-profits, leaders in our community such as the Honorable judge Steve Gonzalez, and family members of the gubernatorial candidates for Washington were present too. 

The celebration started with a demonstration of  “Charrería” which is an event similar to a rodeo. The “charros” displayed fabulous tricks with the rope, and they showed how their horses could enjoy and dance the traditional Mexican songs while a Mariachi was playing.

After the show concluded, Emerald Downs’ president, Mr. Ron Crockett, spoke to the audience with words of gratitude towards the Latino community. 

"We should stop calling a minority a community that has clearly become a majority," Crockett said, "especially when without them, we wouldn’t have Emerald Downs working as well as it is right now”. 

His words truly warmed my heart.

After Mr. Crockett’s speech, the real party started! A wonderful group of  Mexican folklore dancers called “La Guelaguetza” were the first ones to showcase the beauty of that culture. Right after them, the marvelous “Mariachi Guadalajara” entered the room and filled it with the sound of their voices, trumpets, and violins. One of the best Mariachis I have heard in this area. 

It was a beautiful event where the Latino contributions in Washington state were recognized. I'd like to thank the person who made this event possible: Mrs. Carmen Esparza, a valuable member of our community.

The Invitation

Charro working the rope

Dancing horses

The "Escaramuzas." The female version of the charro.

Dancing group "La Guelaguetza".

Mariachi Guadalajara

Our wonderful host,  Mrs. Carmen Esparza.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Jovino Santos Neto Quinteto and Chris Stover Deliver an Outstanding Performance in Seattle

What a night!

The place: The Royal Room in Columbia City.

The time: 8:00 p.m.

The artist: Jovino Santos Quinteto featuring Chris Stover.

In the past, I have been asked to forget I’m a musician when attending a concert otherwise I don't let them enjoy the party. My answer has always been the same: “I'm sorry, I'm afraid I can’t do that.” I am always paying attention to the little details in a music concert, and I love it!

Yesterday night I attended a dear friend's concert, in fact, several friends' concert since I knew most of the musicians playing on stage. Like always, their performance was absolutely amazing. That’s the beauty of being a musician and never forgetting about it. I probably enjoy every single note played more than anyone else.

Here, there are a few pictures of the concert.

From left to right: Mark Ivester (drum set), Jeff Busch (percussions), Chris Stover (trombone), Ben Thomas (vibraphone), Tim Carrey (bass), Jovino Santos Neto (piano)

Ben Thomas and Jeff Busch

Chris Stover. He's one of the best trombone players in Seattle. He now lives in New York. 
Jovino Santos Neto... An amazing pianist/composer.

Jovino Santos and I.

Always sharing these wonderful moments with my husband! 

El Portal Coffee Roasters - A Little Piece of Veracruz in Seattle

I love visiting coffee shops, especially locally owned ones. I’d like to talk to you about one that is very close to my heart, El Portal Coffee RoastersThis little coffee shop offers coffee from my hometown Veracruz, Mexico. Some of the things that I really miss from Mexico are the strong flavor of Mexican food and the strong coffee. When I first heard of this place I said to myself, “You have to go there” and I did.

From the moment I set foot in this small cozy place, the strong aroma of the Mexican coffee blew me away. My favorite one is the “Lechero”, which is a mix of espresso with steamed milk, a version of a latte here in the United States. In Veracruz there’s a special way of serving this type of coffee that cannot be done here because it’s quite dangerous.

This is how it’s done in Veracruz: in a tall glass a waiter serves two shots of espresso, then pours the steamed milk from up high in the glass. Like it’s shown in the picture below.

Picture from "El Blog del Bavaro"

But it’s not just the coffee or the Mexican pastries that have me coming back to this shop, nope; it’s the warmth of its owners, Ignacio Barrera and his wife Damaris. They have all the charisma that is characteristic of the Veracruzanos, always smiling, always positive, and welcoming. If you are around the Central District, pay this coffee shop a visit. Meanwhile, I’ll have another lechero. 

Here are a few pictures of the times I've been there:

Mrs. Damaris owner of El Portal.

A painting of Agustin Lara, famous composer from Veracruz, hangs on their wall

El Portal Coffee from Veracruz, Mexico

Enjoying a delicious Mexican pastry

Thursday, July 19, 2012


On Tuesday and Wednesday night, The Hansberry Project in conjunction with eSe Teatro, hosted "REPRESENT! A Multicultural Playwrights' Festival" at the ACT Theater and I was there of course.

One of the things that have happened in theater and film throughout the years is that not many Latino actors/actresses get good roles. They usually get the stereotypical roles of babysitters, cooks, housemaids, and my favorite one lately... Drug dealers. Because of that, many actors have decided to become producers to be able to tell their own stories and portray what the Latino culture really is about. That’s exactly what eSe Teatro is doing here in Seattle.

Perhaps, one of the most interesting things at their stage readings is the mix of the Spanish and English languages, because believe it or not, most of us do speak at home, the so-called Spanglish! Whenever we forget a word in English, well we say it in Spanish. If we forget a word in Spanish, we say it in English!

"Haley's Comet" written by Nilki Benitez.

"The Rehearsal" written by Lonnie Tristan Renteria.

I admire how the members of this theater company are working very hard at making their plays understood by all of their audiences. The mix of languages is a challenge that could make some people in the audience unhappy; however, thanks to their hard work this hasn't happened.

I’d love to see projects like this grow and get funded so they can someday, why not, make it to the big theaters with a huge production!

For now, I'd like to invite you my friends to come to one of their stage readings. The next one will be on Sunday, July 22nd,  at the ACT Theater where they will present “Don Quixote and Sancho Panza – Homeless in Seattle” once more. 

Let’s keep supporting our local artists!  

"Don Quixote and Sancho Panza - Homeless in Seattle" written by Rose Cano. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

If You Thought That Being a Salsa DJ is Easy, Think Again.

Two weeks ago I was invited to attend a party at a known Salsa Ballroom in the heart of Capitol Hill in Seattle. I was immediately interested in attending because the featured DJ for that night was brought all the way from Denver. Unfortunately, he had a minor accident (I read on a Facebook update that he was okay by the way) and he was unable to make it to Seattle. That night, a local DJ came to the rescue and as I was listening to his mixes I started thinking about the necessary skills to be a salsa DJ. You see, in order to be a great Salsa DJ, they need to have a good understanding of how the backbone of Latin music works.

The Salsa rhythm is not easy to sync and that’s why DJs have to really know something called "La Clave". A picture of the percussion known as claves is below:

With these claves a member of the band plays the rhytmic pattern that is known as "La Clave". They are essential in order to keep the bass, the piano, and the rest of the percussions from missing the beat.

Listen to how they are played:

When Salsa DJs put together a mix of songs, they have to remember that this Clave has to be perfectly synced between songs in order to have the dancers dancing smoothly. 

Many DJs in the Seattle area are still trying to get the grasp of this, and I am sure that eventually they will, but in the meantime, next time that you go to a club to listen to a DJ, and especially a salsa DJ, think of all the time that many of them have spent learning and listening to this music in order to bring us a nice mix of songs for us to enjoy! 

And now, I leave you with a very good mix of salsa music that I found on YouTube. Come on my friends! It's time to get your bodies moving!

If you want to learn more about La Clave you can listen to this podcast from NPR HERE