Kevin Linares bio; footage. “Ai no’ma’ tambo!”

Born in the hospital my mom worked in I was brought into this world as a king (East Los Angeles).There was a great celebration on my block when everyone found out I was a boy, people jumped on cars and confetti was thrown. I believe the whole crew deserves to be kings, considering our prestigious ancestral backgrounds. Mexica and Guatemalan, I am proud to be the fruit of a Mayan harvest. My family instilled this aura of happiness in my personality. As a young kid I remember listening to artists such as Armando Manzanero, Jose Jose, Nelson Ned, Roberto Carlos, Sonora Dinamita, Sonora Santanera, Celia Cruz, Banda Blanca, Vicente Fernandez, Banda Mexicano, Perez Prado, Michael Jackson, El General, and Mello Man Ace. In class I would make beats by tapping my hands on my desk. Although my teachers would urge me to stop, I would continue to play with time in my head. I felt as if rhythm was in the air, you had to catch it before it changed.

Entering my teens I met my good friend Josh and began to explore raw forms of music. Underground Hip Hop opened up our horizons, with influential artists such as Wu Tang, Black Star, A Tribe Called Quest, Digable Planets, and Madlib. Norwalk High School had their share of MC’s I admired. Continuously, I developed a close friendship with them. Soon after we started a short- lived hip hop group which later turned into Revelious Roots; a band influenced by our defiant nature and elements from Rage Against the Machine, Hip Hop, and our self-determination. I played a xylophone from Thailand and ceramic drums from Morocco. My creativity was steadily growing, fascinated by my abstract impulses.

Now into live instrumentation, I decided to grow and began to practice congas. Somehow I knew that the drum was going to be my instrument and no one was going to separate me from it. While learning how to drum I discovered new roots and cultures of music, and later found a passion for collecting records; musical fossils containing profound history from all over the world. Records are like time capsules for humans to go back and experience the sentiment of that specific period. During difficult times you get beautiful music, somehow the soul is expressed at its highest level when it’s under direst. The civil rights era produced some of the most amazing music of our time and Jazz was the ultimate expression of that era. Artists such as John Coltrane, Juno Lewis, Sun Ra, Billie Holiday, Sam Rivers, Pharoah Saunders , Cecil Taylor, Archie Shepp, Last Poets, Gary Bartz, and Leon Thomas. All you have to do is take a stroll by my house and know that Jazz will be coming out of them speakers.

It’s clear that Jazz stimulates my mind but my heart belongs to drum and dance.

Caribbean/Central American and African percussion grounded me and expanded my ability. Greats such as Chano Pozo, Mongo Santamaria, Beny More, Munequitos, Cascarita, Silvestre Mendez, Machito, Patato Valdez, Sabu Martinez, Los Papines, Olatunji, and Fela inspired me to reach new levels.

During this transitional period I was in school and part of two musical groups; Melancayo Mexica, a pre–Hispanic group that incorporated indigenous instruments from Mexico and Central America (ocarinas, water drums, flutes); and Yelot, an Afro-Latin reggae/cumbia band that had a short stint in the East L.A scene.

After evaluating our musical connection we decided to take a break to later find a new direction. During this break KPFK’s radio program RISE, led me to Taumbu, a master percussionist from South Central Los Angeles. I received free tickets to go see him perform at the Mayflower Ballroom. I got connected and later began to take drumming lessons with him. Taumbu taught me approach and proper structure in rhythms such as Yambu, Bembe and Columbia. Taumbu was a guide to my unique musical path, although he moved out of the country we maintain a close friendship.

Reinvigorated the crew started broadening their rhythmic nature to our roots in South America. With the Ecuadorian flavor already in effect vocalist Bardo Martinez came back from Colombia motivated ready to make things happen, with songs like Yucca, Panama, and Antonio Quintero. BUYEPONGO, a relatively young band with a huge heart, is growing everyday. Slowly, but, surely we are integrating our Indigenous, African, Antillean, rumbero knowledge to the “UP BEAT.”  These abstract polyrhythmic beats on the drums have been hand picked and carefully arranged to fulfill your heart and brain. If you see me on the streets say what’s up, know that I’m humble and myself and that good connections can lead to big things. Love.

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