SAN DIEGO — A Chula Vista musician facing the challenge of his life has discovered a new way for the party and beat to go on. In this Zevely Zone, I visited Quartyard in San Diego's East Village.
On stage rehearsing, we found a man who is living proof, that in life, where there is a will there is a way.
The masked man performing Cumbia music was Joaquin Hernandez. "I started playing music in 1985," said the 46-year-old father of two. Raised in Chula Vista, Joaquin Hernandez was born with rhythm and a love for music, but in 1998, while recording an album with his band the drummer experienced a pain in his hand and wrist. "All of the sudden my hand just sort of twisted. I could not really relax it. I thought I had just overstressed it. It was very confusing," said Joaquin.
A doctor diagnosed Joaquin with Focal Dystonia. It's a neurological disorder that forced him to quit music. "It was heartbreaking to just decide and say look I can't do this," said Joaquin. The doctor told him there was no cure. "He said find a new thing to do," said Joaquin who had been a musician for more than a decade.
Joaquin used to play drums in some of San Diego’s finest Latin bands. After two years of silence, Joaquin discovered the Zendrum, a futuristic instrument that he wears like a guitar. Music flowed from his fingers and tears from his eyes.
He plugged it in, played music and started crying. "Oh yeah because, I had not played in years," said Joaquin. He still can't hold a drumstick, but Joaquin discovered he could tap his fingers for hours on a Zendrum and his one man band Cumbia Machin was born.
The instrument gave Joaquin the ability to continue his passion for drumming. After much practice, Joaquin combined the use of live electronics and sequencers to create original dub-style Cumbia. Thus began the beginning of Cumbia Machin in 2010.
DJ Ana Brown is Joaquin's manager. She says they've traveled to San Francisco, New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and dozens of other cities sharing his music. "They love it," said DJ Ana about Cumbia Machin's growing fanbase.
As for the mask, Joaquin believes the gift of music is much bigger than what he creates. He wears a reflective shield, so the audience can see themselves when he plays. "It's a party for all of us," said Joaquin.
The musician says no matter what your challenge is in life, the beat must go on. "Don't give up, it may not be the answer right away that you are seeking, eventually you will find a way. There is going to be an answer and you'll find it," said Joaquin. "Life is beautiful."
Cumbia Machin is one of the featured acts performing at "Noche de Cumbia" on Saturday February 26th at Quartyard. Noche de Cumbia will feature Los Sleepwalkers, La Diabla, Cumbia Machin & Viejo Lowbo. Tickets are $15 online and $20 at the door.
For ticket information click here.
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