Pain and Percussion

Julius Carrasco

Julius Carrasco

I was cleaning up my desk this morning. OK, I was movin’ the stuff around on my desk this morning and discovered five different CD’s recorded by my dear friend the late Julius Carrasco. He was a true artist and he had played with a touring internationally famous Flamenco troop, Los Caraperos in his youth.How I ever found myself sitting beside him with a set of bongo drums between my replacement knees I will never know but I still thank God that I was so blessed. Don Neish, a fellow writer who attended a writing class with me in Chapel Hill called me one afternoon in September of ’06 saying he would be playing his tenor sax at a restaurant that evening with Julius and would I like to bring my bongo drums and play a few sets. He said they would be playing Flamencos and some Bosa nova.

I must confess that, although I owned an old set of bongos, I had never played bongos in any manner in my lifetime. I had played drums, poorly, but I had not played the drums with any group for nearly forty years. What’s more, I had never played a Bosa nova or a Flamenco,ever. I only had one thing going for me and that was a nasty habit. I used to drum on tables with my right two fingers and play accents with my two left fingers. Also, I had Latin music in my soul. That evening I sat down between Julius and Don at the Weather Vane restaurant and bar at Southern Seasons in Chapel Hill and I watched that wonderful man moving his fingers over those strings and I could hear the rhythms pouring out of that guitar and I tried to duplicate them. Once he told me that I played like no other drummer he had ever played with. Not only did I play the main rhythms but I also played many of the other rhythms hidden inside that wonderful magic music they call the Flamenco.

I must have played a dozen times with Julio at different restaurants and I will never forget the pain that went through my knees from holding the drums in place or the stabbing pain in my fingers as I played at times. Certainly I had arthritis and possibly strains of carpal tunnel but the pure joy of performing with Julio drove all of these discomforts out of my mind.

My friend died March 15, 2012. I treasure those CD’s he gave me and those wonderful evenings I had the honor of sitting next to one of the greatest flamenco guitarist that ever was.

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