Ritmo — The Latin Rock Band
Over the stretch of a few of years, I became involved in an assortment of different groups, including my own. The group I had organized was named Ritmo, and we were registered with the American Federation of Musicians, local 380. The group consisted of six musicians, which included a lead singer. We played mostly pop rock. Santana tunes were our specialty, because of the Latin flavor I was able to add.
In my rhythm section I had a bass player that also worked for IBM. Since the two of us were in the same band, we drew a large IBM crowd. Part of the crowd that came out to see us was a department manager with some of his subordinates. As he proceeded to get high, he began running up a tab, and orchestrating the party as if he was still on the job. It was obvious he was grandstanding and letting off steam from the stress of his management position. Nobody had to tell him, “Stay thirsty my friend.” Since he was a college grad and a grad from programming school, he was a typical partier, and already well entrenched into yuppiedom. In this case the environment of Binghamton isn’t as urban as the name “yuppie” implies. Make no mistake, however, his behavior is not typical of IBM managers; since the company has a world renown reputation and has remained a leader in the field of technology.
When joining the union, I thought I had to perform in front of a panel of other musicians in order to qualify. So the weekend prior to joining, I practiced like my life depended on it. That following week, the test never occurred. It was obvious that all they wanted was their union dues; besides they never helped us find gigs anyway. Moreover, we were also restricted from playing certain clubs, unless we belonged to the inner-circle of the union rank-and-file. Sometime later, I found out that the mob was pulling the strings and had their hands in the till. Regardless of their influence, we were still able to obtain several gigs—most of them were due to my previous connections with nightclub owners who knew me from gigging with Vito.
During the summer seasons of the ’60s and the ’70s, the fashion of mini-skirts was in vogue. I would often think about what did we guys ever do before mini-skirts and short-shorts?