'Afrolatin flamencofunk' blossoms

By Heather Frye
University of Idaho Argonaut

   We are privileged to get a pretty decent variety of music here in Moscow. Punk, funk, folk, worldbeat; a whole lot of folk and jam bands.and naturally some blues and jazz have mounted Moscow's short supply of stages. Over the next week, Moscow will be adding to this diverse repertoire. by welcoming two Latin funk bands: The Omar Torrez Band and Los Mocosos.

   Tonight the Underground (below CJ's) will host the first of these groups; The Omar Torrez Band. The band hails from Seattle, where they crave been taking the small venue and festival scene (Bumbershoot) by stone wowing even the hardeore grange fanatics with an eclectic mix of what they describe as "Afrocubanflamencofunk." They have , recently had the honor of being voted one of Seattle's best bands in the Seattle' Weekly's "Best of Seattle" survey.

   Omar Torrez, the band's namesake, is a charismatic and energetic master of guitars both acoustic and electric. At 27,; he is an. accomplished and talented musician, songwriter and singer. He grew up in a family with a strong artistic background and takes his influence from an eclectic grab bag of popular and traditional artists. His father, Fernando Azacarraga, is a popular singer and peralong with Flamenco legends Paco de Lucia and Juan Serrano, shape Torrez's passion for Latino and Flamenco music. He also gains inspiration from Jimmy Hendrix, Stevie Wonder and Van Halen.

   Torrez has assembled a group of other musicians who compliment his versatile style. Todd Johnson, the group's drummer, has played an a number of bands nationwide including Confucious Slim and Sole Purpose. Gene Matthews is the band's bassist and brings a touch of funk and sweet soul to the mix. Arturo Rodriguez is a seasoned Latin percsionist. Smooth and wild, his conga rhythms and Latin grooves add sizzle to the group's sound.

   Together these four young musicians have created a sound that is a soulful, sensual and savage . mix of Brazilian, Mexican, blues, funk, Spanish, Cuban and, well, you name it. But whether they are playing "Cielito Lindo" Jimmy Hendrix, or one of their own songs, this band is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

   The show begins at 8 p.m. and is 21 and over only. Tickets ate $5 in advance or $7 at the door and can be purchased at either the Underground or at El Mercado restaurant in the Eastside Marketplace.

   Be on the lookout for an article in Tuesday's Argonaut on the second Latin funk band, Los Mocosos, who will play an all ages show here at the University of Idaho on April 28.