Benito Cereno, with special guest, timbalero, Louie Romero

Event has passed (Sat Jun 14, 2008 - Sat Jun 14, 2008)
EastSide Arts Alliance (ESAA)
Music, Dance, Funk, Hip Hop, Rock, World Music, Salsa


The Bay Area's newest Latin-groove sensation, BENITO CERENO, performs at the East Side Cultural Center's first Dance Party with special guest, timbalero, Louie Romero (of Mazacote) along with DJ Aztec Parrot spinning Boogaloo and Latin Funk.

BENITO CERENO mixes Puerto Rican rhythms (salsa, bomba, plena and bolero) with funk, rock, reggae, blues and other world beats to create a unique urban-inspired danceable groove seeped in Caribbean flavor. As a reflection of the band's leader and lead singer, Manny Martinez, it is the musical by-product of a New York city born Latino who spent his formative years in Puerto Rico, and the last twenty in California. With an all-star Bay Area cast of characters that include Fabian Paredes on drums, Javier Navarrette on timbales and vocals, Hector Lugo on congas and vocals, Ayla Davila on bass, Peter Meredith on keyboards, Camilo Landau on guitar and vocals and Sandra Garcia Rivera on percussion and vocals, Benito Cereno is a bilingual manifestation of the embracing of cultures with no musical boundaries attached...and the insatiable desire to get your groove on.

Manny Martinez has been a Bay Area musician for over twenty years. He was involved in the thrash-funk explosion of the late eighties/early nineties as lead singer and songwriter for the Marin based band Psychefunkapus. After recording two albums with that band for Atlantic Records, Manny set up shop in the Mission District. Since then he has toured, written, and recorded with some of the Bay Area’s best Latin bands that include Mazacote, Surco Nuevo, Los Mocosos, Jesus Diaz and QBA, Dr. Loco’s Rockin’ Jalapeno Band, Azabache and John Santos. His unique vocal style and dynamic stage persona has made him a favorite among salseros and non-salseros alike. His current musical endeavor, Benito Cereno, is an outlet that enables him to incorporate his cultural roots as a Latino who grew up alternately between New York City and Puerto Rico as well as his love for nearly every musical genre out there. His band, Benito Cereno, is truly a representation of Manny’s musical and life experiences. As he states, "after being a singer/songwriter/frontman in so many Bay Area bands for the last twenty years, I decided it was time to put something together that represented who I am, and what I believe in. Benito Cereno is that something; a musical incorporation of my favorite musical styles with a strong Puertorican cultural presence at its core.

In 2005 I made the decision to go back to school and take a break from the music scene. As an English major I came across a short story by Herman Melville entitled "Benito Cereno". The story is about a Spanish slave ship found in distress somwhere in the caribbean by an English Navy ship. The Spanish crew has been dessimated by a "storm" and the Spanish captain, Benito Cereno has managed to keep the slaves in line with the help of his faithful servant and leader of the slaves, Babo. It turns out, the ship had been taken over by Babo and the slaves and captain Cereno saw his men murdered during the revolt and has found a new respect for the Africans. The whole theme of the underestimation of a people deemed inferior is what struck me. I've dealt with it all my life. I though it would be a great name for a band.

The EastSide Arts Alliance (ESAA) is a group of artists and community activists of color who live and work in the Lower San Antonio neighborhood of East Oakland. Having recently purchased a multi-use building that is the site of the new EastSide Cultural Center, ESAA is poised to be a part of the new cultural renaissance that Oakland represents.

This event is sponsored by KPFA's Hardknock Radio and Radio 2050.


  1. EastSide Arts Alliance (ESAA)
    2277 International Blvd., Oakland, CA