Category : Blog
It took the snow to slow things down enough for me to get caught up to where I can actually write a blog for the PCS site. I know I’ve been absent, basically since the sites inception, and the blog page has been looking like the shelf of a Cuban bodega, EMPTY, but I’ve finally made it and I will be here on a regular basis from now on, I promise!! “Más vale tarde que nunca” as they say! It’s not like there has been lack of blog content around here, which is why I’ve been absent I guess.
Since the sites inception, we put out The Yumatics debut CD, 90 Miles to Yuma (available here) which I will be blogging about quite a bit in the coming weeks and month.
We formed Machete Men, whose debut concert at The Sellwood Waterfront Park had over 2,000 in attendance (July 29th 2013); we put on Machete Men’s epic Día de La Raza show at The Goodfoot with our buddies 1000 Fuegos (October 12th 2013)
The summer of 2013 saw the resurgence of our labels initiators, Caña Son, who performed the final concert of the season at the Washington Park Amphitheater to a record crowd of over 4,500 rabid fans of Cuban beats (August 10th 2013)
As the fall of 2013 settled in we began writing and producing the preproduction demo of Machete Men’s debut CD and in late December 2013 nearly the entire line-up of macheteros (band members of Machete Men) invaded Havana to record said debut album with veteran record producer Nicolas Sirgado (Soneros de Verdad, Orquesta Thermidor, Conexcion Salsera); which brings us pretty much up to date because we’ve literally just returned from Havana 2 weeks ago. Man, I’m exhausted just writing all that shit!! It has taken me these past 2 weeks to recuperate from the trip. It was one of those journeys that require a vacation to recuperate. The undertaking included 95 hours in 12 days of tracking, 20 musicians and about as many genres, all on little sleep or nourishment and augmented with heavy doses of beer, rum, tobacco, carbon monoxide, malt liquor, chicken blood and “other substances”.
When I got off the plane in Mexico City, I went straight to the pharmacy and got a shot of meds in each butt cheek and a 5-day dose of antibiotics. I continued coughing up Lucky Charms for the rest of January and am only now able to walk a straight line and pass a Breathalyzer. It was pretty amazing!! We saw around 8 shows, went to a few house parties, bathed in the Caribbean and even got to go to church!! Cuba fucking rules!! Sorry, I just blurted it out so I had to write it!! Some of the memories are still so vivid… and some are a little blurry, but we’ll get to all that soon enough.
Again, I would like to welcome you all to this first of what will be a regular and on going Pure Cuban Sugar blog, if you like, follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and let other know about what’s going on!! Hasta pronto mi gente!
Today is the one-year anniversary of the death of Ruben Torres, a member of the Pure Cuban Sugar Musicians Collective, Caña Son and The Yumatics. On November 17th of 2012, Pure Cuban Sugar put on a Memorial Concert in his honor with 100% of the proceeds going to The Torres-Rodriguez Children Trust, for the futures of Ruben’s children, Sofia Milagros, age 12, Ruben Gabriel, age 10, and John Lucas, age 7. The community responded in astonishing fashion. Friends, former band mates, musicians in the community, many that never even knew Ruben, enthusiastically offered their aid. Over 450 people attended the concert and we raised over $10,500.00 on that very evening. It was an overwhelming exhibition of love for a man and his family.
The concert, held at NE Portland’s premier salsa venue, The Conga Club, featured 4 local Latin bands, groups that Ruben had been a member of at one point or another in his 12 years living in Oregon, Los Boricuas, Barrio Latino, Conjunto Alegre and Caña Son. All of the musicians in all of the bands donated their time and services to the event, in memory of their lost brother Ruben and to support his family. Personally, I know of at least one that turned down a paying gig just so he could perform at Ruben’s memorial. This display of selflessness by this special community of musicians made the event even more momentous than is was slated to be. Unfortunately, the list of musicians is too great to list here, just shy of 50 between the 4 bands, but I would like to state for the record that you all helped make the Ruben Torres Memorial Concert one of the greatest shows in Oregon Latin Music history!! Roger Rumba stated that it was on par with his record attendance to date. I have seen all of the bands that performed that night several times before and in my opinion they all played like I had never seen, high energy and showmanship were in abundance for each set. The dancers responded in kind with a throw down that turned the Conga Club into a salsa inferno, burn baby burn!!! Making The Ruben Torres Memorial Concert a historic, record-breaking event was never planned, but we did have a feeling it would be one for the books. Many heartfelt thanks to all the musicians that left it all on the stage that night, I am sure our brother Ruben was watching from above with pride, smiling on all of us!!
Salsa promoter DJ Roger Rumba, owner of The Conga Club, donated 100% of the covers paid that night to the trust and was instrumental in promoting the event. Thank you Roger for your generosity and for your ongoing support of the Latin music community in Portland!!
Osvaldo Bernal, of Univision Portland, donated his time to emcee the event. Thank you Osvaldo for sharing your gracious narrating skills and participating at the planning meetings.
Dozens of local businesses donated products, gift cards and gift certificates for the silent auction that took a group of Trust volunteers two months to organize, from donation requests to product collections to running the auction on the evening of the event. Special thanks to Harry and Glenda Gomez, Will Acevedo, Sheila Vega, Pedro Martinez, Janice Faccio and Hada Salinas-Pereyra. Thank you to all of the businesses that donated products and services to the Torres-Rodriguez Children’s Trust, your generosity will not be forgotten and we will remember you when making purchase choices in the future. The list includes: Pambiche, Tribe Hair Salon, Buffalo Wild Wings Lloyd Center, Andina Restaurant, Leah Cabler Hair, Sheila Vega Zumba, Por Que No? Taqueria, Autentica, La Bonita Taqueria, Mextiza, Conjunto Alegre and Caña Son.
There were three photographers on hand that night that donated their time, equipment and skill to documenting the event, Hada Salinas-Pereyra, Al Harris and Shannon Moody. Thank you all for helping us to preserve the memory of Ruben’s memorial.
In the end, no amount of money raised or generosity displayed will be able to replace the loss that we feel to this day.
But to my brother Ruben I will say that on November 17th, 2012….
Booty’s did shake
Glasses were raised
Sweet notes were played
And it was all in your name
Ruben T. Torres-Rodriguez
November 17th, 1967 – September 10th, 2012
Here at Pambiche we love all things Cuban, well maybe not all, but most things!! We love our island, our people and our culture, and we love to celebrate life!! We also love to share with our friends and family!! So in honor of these passions, Pambiche and several of her friends have […]
Ruben Torres: Action Figure Candidate, Verbal Sparring Partner, and Ketchup Aficionado.
If ever there was a guy that deserved his own action figure, it was Ruben Torres. His accessory kit would include a cuatro, a guitar, a bass, a baseball bat and mitt, a box of dominoes, a bag of surullitos, a bottle of ketchup, a vacuum cleaner, a broom, and a surfboard. His superhero-esque cleaning capabilities and white glove tactics were matched only by his natural fish-like abilities in the surf on the shorelines of his native Puerto Rico.
Torres had acute talents for home organization, yard irrigation and domino domination. Unlike Popeye, who gained superpowers only from eating one food source, spinach, Ruben had a few food sources that made him feel like a super-human, tomato ketchup, mayo-ketchup (Puerto Rican 1000 Islands) and corn fritters (known as surullitos in Puerto Rico).
Out-spoken and obsessive, Torres had acute talents for home organization, yard irrigation and domino domination. Unlike Popeye, who gained superpowers only from eating one food source, spinach, Ruben had a few food sources that made him feel like a super-human, tomato ketchup, mayo-ketchup (Puerto Rican 1000 Islands) and corn fritters (known as surullitos in Puerto Rico).
But of all Ruben’s superpowers, my favorite, and the one that I will probably miss the most (as his wife would likely concur) was his herculean ability to argue.
He would overcome adversaries with gab and chatter spinning a word web that would make even Spiderman dizzy, and then, he would baffle his opponents into submission with uncanny density and Hulk-like skull thickness. I personally fell victim to this particular superpower on many an occasion. We had arguments, some of which went on forever. We would often pause in one argument so we could begin another, like flies in a spider’s web, saving the argument to devour it later.
We were still in the middle of various arguments when Ruben passed and unfortunately we will never be able to settle the debate on which Cuban timba band is superior Los Van Van, Isaac Delgado, Habana D’Primera or Pupy y Los Que Son Son?; or….the classic, where is salsa music originally from and who owns it?; ……is mofongo really Puerto Rican or is it Dominican?; the list is endless and the quarrels and disputes will be missed as will the incessant laughter that always followed, proceeded and drove every discourse and chess match discussion we ever had.
A lover of tradition and technology, family and friends, Ruben was dedicated father, husband, son, brother and friend.
By day he was an Intel Corp engineer, but evenings and weekends saw him in a myriad of activities and scenarios showing off his super skills with the greatest of ease, from fence busting at baseball diamonds to tearing the roof off packed salsa clubs; he could be seen throwin’ bones or throwin’ down on the grill, chillin’ with his homies or with his kids, reorganizing the garage or watering the lawn, vacuuming the carpet or sweeping the kitchen…….Ruben Torres was a man with skill and ability, he was, a super friend.
Now that he has departed we are left with the mere memory of our hero. Why not make a tribute to him in the form of an action figure? A talking action figure would be even better? And better still a life-sized robot. Like the android from the old 70’s film West World, hell Ruben looked like Yul Brynner. A Ruben Torres robot, hells yeah!!! Android Ruben is better than no Ruben babies!!! It wouldn’t be the same, but I’d take it!! A guitar-slinging robot that sings 3 part vocal harmonies in perfect pitch and is also programmed to do house chores? Who’d say no to that?
Oh there I go again, getting carried away, letting my imagination go places it shouldn’t. Sorry kids I just miss the old man. Ruben you are loved!
The prominent engineer for Intel Corporation, died from complications caused by Multiple Myeloma, also known as plasma cell myeloma or Kahler’s Disease, a cancer of the plasma cells. He was 44 years old. Raised in San Juan, he graduated from the Inter American University of Puerto Rico. Ruben moved to Oregon in 2000 where he almost immediately met and married his wife, Staci, it was love at first site as he told it. Ruben was survived by his wife, Staci Lynn Torres; daughter, Sofia Milagros Torres; sons, Ruben Gabriel Torres and John Lucas Torres. R.I.P.
Please help us raise funds for the futures of Ruben’s children, Sofia Milagros, age 11, Ruben Gabriel, age 9, and John Lucas, age 6.