Great article on the influence of the Conga in the local Latin music scene ("Call of the Congas," September 10). While credit was given to some, there were others left out who have contributed to the maintenance of the traditions associated with the Conga. All are excellent musicians, and they are dependent on much more than the Conga; they must also have the wind, keyboard, and string instruments to make their sound. Very few utilize only the membranophones and voice as a means of communication.
The folk artists who I refer to are members of Batá con Pié, Salmorejo, and Banyoko Güi Mi Lere, and Sankofa. Salmorejo has been involved in the folk arts for over 35 years. Quite often a presentation has erupted into a hip-swaying and foot-stomping expression similar to the ones mentioned in the article.
A difference in performance is that at a given point we open the floor to anyone who wants to come and join us not only in dancing but also in playing the instruments. Traditionally, we refer to this as a Bembé. It is here where the audience connects with us at a level that is quite different from any other. Batá con Pié works with a community of people who dance and teach the Bomba/Plena. There are more than one Bomba: There is the Holandé, Xicá, and Yubá. Similarly, there is more than one Merengue, Salsa, and Timba.
Rochester also has a Rumba group made up of artists from La Habana, Cuba. Here, also one will notice the direct connection between the voice and the drum. This group, Banyoko Güi Mi Lere, will blow your socks off if dancing is what you like!
Sankofa has been delighting audiences and turning out the dance floors for many years. What binds us all is the Conga and the Gan-gan.
Once again thanks to City Newspaper for an excellent article on our Latin music. Thanks to Ramón "Sunshine" Pérez, Clyde Morgan, Chuito Reyes, Tony Padilla, Alberto Gutierrez, Hiram and Alberto Jimenez, and many others for keeping the Conga reverberating.
Henry I. Padrón, Rochester. (Padrón is the founder and artistic director of Salmorejo Poetry and Percussion Ensemble.)
In August, we heard that the Canandaigua VA hospital and two others in New York City would close. Our government asked our veterans to serve in the armed forces to protect our great country, and the government made many promises to them, such as health care for our sick veterans. Now this same government wants to close many VA hospitals, leaving our veterans to get their own health care.
It is time for New York State veterans (1,255,637) to stand up and be counted. We must tell our government that we don't want any VA hospitals closed. We are at war in Iraq and other countries. We need all of our VA hospitals to take care of the health needs of our veterans now and in the future. It is a small price to pay for what our veterans have done for our country and the world.
Money seems to be the big problem, and our government wants to balance the federal budget on the backs of the veterans. All our government has to do is cut 25 percent of the foreign aid that we give to other countries, and we would be able to take care of our veterans and have money left over.
Now all of our veterans need to register to vote and vote for change if our government doesn't make good on the promises that it made to them.
Alan G. Merklinger, Chapin Road, Canandaigua (Merklinger is Ontario County director of Allvets.)
I would nominate both Wegmans and Rochester's most powerful radio station, WHAM, as perfect examples of "When the Best is the Worst."
Wegmans, now on the verge of closing its store on Mt. Hope Avenue, has been over-praised over the past several years for its commitment to Rochester, while its actions bespeak the opposite.
Already it has closed its store at Midtown Plaza (deserting the very heart of the city) and the one on Culver Road and Bay Street while, as Jack Spula observes, opening its 65th store in Pennsylvania ("Mt. Hope: What's in Store, September 10). Some commitment!
Then there is WHAM, vaunting its 50,000-watt power and ideal placement on the AM dial and thus its ever-increasing amount of advertising. But that's exactly the reason for less and less time for its programs every hour, not to mention less and less time for its ever fewer local, hands-on hosts such as Bob Lonsberry (whether you like him or not).
Its interminable advertising breaks into the middle even of its five minutes of headline news at the top of the hour.
Larry Farsace, North Union Street, Rochester
Thank you for Jack Bradigan Spula's "Mt. Hope: What's in Store" (September 10). In addition to the neighborhoods mentioned in the article, the Lilac Neighborhood is also working to keep "our" Wegmans open. We have written letters to both Wegmans and to the editor of the Democrat & Chronicle and have received much response from friends and neighbors. However, it is not enough.
We're considering starting a petition to present to Wegmans claiming our need for the store to remain open and in its present location. We are encouraging everyone who is affected by this store closing to make themselves heard and get involved in our efforts.
Let's hope the voice of the public can carry some weight and influence the businesses that are there to serve us.
Nicki Tiffany, Mt. Hope Avenue, Rochester
Our neighbors have a daughter who is living in Holland. They frequent Park Avenue's Dutch Market and Café for the specialties and even to have a birthday card translated. So when it was announced that the Dutch Market would be serving "tea" several afternoons each week, reservations were made.
I was invited to a lovely hour which included a generous pot of tea, savory sandwiches, and a memorable assortment of fruits and sweet treats. I think it's something to celebrate: such comfortable elegance, so close!
Anne Day, Laney Road, Rochester
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