The Portland Salsa Community Comes Together to Celebrate the Life of Ruben Torres

The Portland Salsa Community Comes Together to Celebrate the Life of Ruben Torres

ruben_benefit22Today 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.


ruben_benefit2The 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.


ruben_benefit5Dozens 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 HairSheila 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