Spicing Up the New Paltz Music Scene

Los Prostetos dressed up and played at Oasis Cafe on Halloween night.

Something sexy and spicy has been sneaking its way through the New Paltz music scene.

In less than a year, Latin-infused band Los Prostetos has been getting booties to shake like they never have before.

The band – combining Danhel “Waiki” Eguers (guitar/vocals/flute), Sean Morrison (keys/vocals), Rick Birmingham (violin), Matt Royes (bass/harmonica), Matt Crane (congas/various percussion) and Joe Ruotolo (timbales/drum kit) – has created a diverse Latin groove.

And the rhythm is infectious.

Performing at numerous venues including Snug’s Harbor, Bacchus Bar & Restaurant and Oasis, this up-and-coming group is all about keeping everyone on their feet.

“It’s really hard not to dance to it. It’s so strong and people that aren’t familiar with it definitely have an impact,” said Eguers, a third-year transfer student majoring in contemporary music.

That salsa tempo seeps through the bones of the two who started the group – Eguers and Morrison. Both Eguers, from Lima, Peru, and Morrison, a third-year transfer student studying jazz studies, grew up listening to Latin music.

“I was born in the Bronx – that’s like Puerto Rico number two,” said Morrison. “My mom always played the standard Latin stuff. We’d always listen to it in the house.”

Taking their musical roots to SUNY New Paltz, the two started playing together and sharing their passion.

“We were chilin’ in my old apartment above Grimaldi’s one cold night,” said Eguers. “Sean came to me with a melody and we started jamming on it. And then it was like, ‘Oh, let’s start a Latin band!’”

After that, the two began to recruit friends to play with them. They said they mainly found people to play percussion, including Nick DePalma, Alan Silverman and Sara Sciorra. According to Eguers, the variety of percussion is “what it’s all about.”

“It’s all about the groove. The different rhythms interlock, mainly Cuban and Columbian rhythms,” he said.

They have rotated musicians but have been playing with Birmingham, Royes, Crane and Ruotolo their past few shows. The group covers mostly older Latin standards, but still brings their own spin to the songs to make them their own.

“They’re mostly tunes that everyone who lives in a Latin American country would be familiar with,” said Eguers. “Latin standards, but we arranged them.”

However, they’ve written their own songs including “Vamos a Bailar” and “Legalizar,” which were inspired by Latin music. Both Eguers and Morrison said they are most inspired by Fela Kuti, a West African musician from Nigeria.

“He basically was the father of Afro-beat, which is like if James Brown went to Africa,” said Morrison. “It’s super rhythmic. His arrangements were really cool. And he was super political. That’s always cool when music has a message.”

Los Prostetos has their own message.

“All these different rhythms, no matter where they come from, we can always make them work together as one,” said Eguers. “Through our music, all these different ethnic rhythms we’ve come across and enjoy…even though they come from different places, can all work together and create something beautiful.”

However, the future for Los Prostetos is looking shaky. At the end of December, Eguers is moving back to Peru. He said he hopes Morrison comes to visit him to start a new band. Los Prostetos still has shows booked to finish out the semester, including playing at Oasis on Nov. 19 and Snug’s on Dec. 3 with Harmalogna.

“I feel like we could record and go and play festivals and be crazy, you know. But I don’t like the cold,” said Eguers.

As for the name, the band made it up. According to Eguers, los prostetos doesn’t “exist in the dictionary.” Although they play Latin music, Eguers said they don’t come from the true Latin source and tradition, so to the band, it means “The Prosthetics.”

“It’s loosely like ‘The Fakes.’ But not in a bad way. Most people think it’s ‘The Prostates,’” said Morrison.