Music for the masses
ONDA's Latin grooves have something for everyone
October 10, 2008
Steamboat Springs — Roberto Sequeira would never think to complain about people dancing at his shows. But with a traveling group of about 10 players and backup singers in his Latin jazz band ONDA, Sequeira is well aware of a common big-crowd, small-stage hazard: the flying microphone stand.
“That elbow will find that boom without even noticing; it’s at perfect stage level. And then I’m in the back line with my eyes watering,” Sequeira said, describing the welcome – though potentially painful – intensity of on ONDA show. Bringing together Latin jazz tradition with funk rhythms, R&B grooves and Motown melodies, ONDA comes with its horn section blaring to Mahogany Ridge today and Saturday.
Sequeira, who leads the band on percussion and vocals, talked with 4 Points about the band’s efforts to exchange new ideas with the Latin music community, what makes ONDA’s grooves danceable, and why everyone – including Sequeira’s backup singers – wants to be a part of the band.
4 POINTS: Why do you think it’s important to network with other Latin bands?
ROBERTO SEQUEIRA: We all feel like we have – it’s kind of an unstated rule – we all feel like we have a mission to educate today’s new musical audience, of all demographics, to this music. And I just think that’s the bottom line, is that we take that responsibility very seriously.
I definitely get the impression that we’re all very serious and very committed to sharing the cultural significance of this music in contemporary terms.
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4 POINTS: What do you think it is about Latin music that makes it likeable for people who might not traditionally listen to it?
RS: I think they find something that’s relatable, first off, and it really doesn’t depend on their familiarity with the music, because everybody has some point of reference with this music. My Anglo audiences, they go right to the brass. And percussion – everybody gets percussion.
You usually see people gravitate to one of those areas, and once they’re in, it’s easier for them to accept the lyrics in English and Spanish, which is what I do. I notice that when I sing in English some people look at me sideways, and when I sing in Spanish some people look at me sideways. When I sing both, no one looks at me sideways.
It’s the rhythms that everyone gets; everyone gets the rhythms. It’s like ice cream – no one dislikes it that I know of. It’s sexy, it’s warm, it’s inviting, and once people are on the dance floor, they’re ours.
4 POINTS: What is ONDA working on right now?
RS: I’m excited about our new backup singers and dancers, The Ondettes. This is going to be a new twist.
The way it actually happened – it almost sounds like I had this all premeditated and designed, and I really didn’t – over a period of time, I had a lot of talented, beautiful young ladies approach me about singing in this band. It was fans, friends and even clients.
People who see our band see that they can be involved and participate very easily. That’s how I get into it, hanging with (Boulder mambo band) Cabaret Diosa; they were having so much fun, I just wanted to get up there, and eventually they let me. So maybe this is my way of giving back. It’s just about adding that vibe to the stage and to the act.