25 years ago Son del Batey was the pioneering Puerto Rican bomb group in exhibiting this musical genre to the public. and celebrates his career this Sunday with the presentation of his first album that will be released soon and the premiere of the music video for the song ‘Ah, Hey, My Barrels’ in it Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC) of San Juan.
“It wasn’t common to see Bomba, but where we played, it was crowded and people accepted the genre.”the founder and percussionist of Son del Batey recalls to EFE, Omar “Pipo” Sanchez about its beginnings in Mayaguez, in the west of the Caribbean island.
The Puerto Rican genre ofbomba was born among slaves and emerged from the syncretism of Taino, African and Spanish culture with more than 21 rhythms, among them the best known are sica, seis corrido, holande, cuembe and yuba.
Son del Batey, currently composed by the vocalist George Rosario and the percussionists Mario Pereira, Juan Anthony Crespo and “Pipo”, In addition to being the first group to expose the genre to the public, it is a pioneer in incorporating art in its “Pintando piquetes” presentations.
The objective of this first album of 10 songs is “To leave something captured of what we have done during this time,” explains “Pipo.”
Rosario, 48 years old, expresses that despite the setbacks they have had “so that it could be given” consider that “It is going to be significant within the genre”.
For his part, Crespo maintains: “We have been making music for 25 years and we have never had a musical production before, it is very important for us”.
Music video that enhances youth creativity
Thanks to an educational program of professional training workshops in audiovisual production at the MAC led by the filmmaker and producer Rhett Lee Garcia17 students received scholarships to create the video ‘Ah, Hey, My Barrels.’
“Because of the hotness of the bomb that MAC represents to us, they want to give a gift to Son del Batey who turns 25 and at the same time give a gift to these students”says Garcia.
The audiovisual content tells the story of the artisanal construction of the barrels (bomba drums) made with rum barrels and goat leather and one of the protagonists is the artisan Edwin H. Mauras.
Mauras, who is also an artist and bomb percussionist, states that this project “It is going to have a brutal reception because it has a very large fan base and there is no other group like it.”
The bomb was banned
The bomb was banned in public spaces for a long time and the tradition was preserved in private gatherings of families like the Cepedas and the Ayalas who kept it alive throughout the generations.
At 72 years old, Jesus Cepeda, a veteran percussionist, describes his father as “defender of black bomb culture” and relates that the first time this genre was played on the radio was thanks to the artist Rafael Cortijowho led the group Cortijo and Its Combo and in which the legendary singer was also present Ismael Rivera “El Sonero Mayor”.
“We celebrate it as a triumph of the bomb”, says Cepeda when remembering the sound of the barrels on the station. Cepeda has transmitted his bomb knowledge to “Pipo” whom he considers “like a son” and assures that these 25 years of experience make him feel “very proud.”
The bomb has a more than rosy future since there are currently on average more than twelve weekly events on the island and it has more and more followers.
It is composed of the basic rhythms played by the buleador or follower barrel, along with the sound of the cua instrument (hitting the wood of the drum with sticks) and the maraca, and the improvisation of the primo barrel that emits the sounds marked by the dancer. with their movements known as pickets.