Abateria is a six-piece group grounded in the gritty, old-school Cuban Son tradition. It’s a dance band, first foremost and always. Its members come from diverse backgrounds, places and musical styles to play the music they love. They are equally at home with loose, old-school Cuban descargas and tight, funky Cumbias. The band’s original music runs this gamut as well; equal parts tradition and innovation.
Miraculously, these Latin dance disciples came together in a Missouri college town in the winter of 2003. That winter percussionist Johnny Finn came back from Cuba after a year of intense study with conguero Eliel Lazo with a vision: a percussion ensemble celebrating rhythms and instruments from all over the world; especially Cuba and Brazil.
After changes in the group’s line-up and the sudden need for a salsa band to heat up a local nightclub’s scene, Abateria hired a bassist, a guitarist, a singer, and made one of the percussionists play piano. Guitarist and songwriter Greg Shadwick built himself a Cuban tres out of an old, restrung acoustic guitar and electrical tape. Finn hypnotized everyone with his love of Cuban music and virtuosic skill on the congas. Native Costa Rican vocalist and flautist Melania Bruner kept the gringos honest, taking the band through the sounds and rhythms she grew up with, and lighting audiences up with her cathartic performances. Somehow, the results sounded amazing. Abateria has been holding court every Friday night to a packed house at the same club for over a year now.
With this line-up settled, Abatería’s sound began to emerge. Members of the group have backgrounds in jazz, funk, blues, rock, classical, and World Music, but the band’s sound is concisely Latin. Expect to hear Son, Salsa, Cumbia, Merengue, and Cha-cha-cha.
Abatería means “battery” as in “rhythm” as in “keeps the party going.” The name is a reference to the 800-plus percussion groups that fill the street of Rio during carnival every year dancing and playing all night, drums and sticks and a blur of rhythm. Every time Abateria steps to the stage, they try to recreate this inescapable drive to dance that only tons metal and wood can create.
The band has released one self-titled album and is touring in support of it. Recently, Abateria has booked dates in Chicago, New Orleans, St. Louis, and Kansas City. They have also designed hundred of posters and press kits, hustled their album at local record stores and on the Internet and pitched in to engineer their own recordings. All students of music, economics and public relations, Abateria doesn’t leave the details to chance. They handle all their own booking, publicity, promotion and distribution.
" 'Presenta su Sonido Indestructible' cements our core sound even further and show the new tricks we’ve learned over the last year and a half. Our sound is getting better, wider and crazier,” said percussionist Johnny Finn. The band has international radio play and has appeared on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition.