Hardly a peace-and-love kind of guy, Joe "Papo" Daddiego didn't tolerate fools gladly. He liked to say he was president of the Anti-Social Club. But he was a patient, kind teacher to me and the ex for more than five years. He named us the ABC Ensemble (Afro-Brazilian-Cuban percussion).
A talented musician from the Five Points district of the Bronx, Joe was a blacksmith by trade who'd also built his own line of conga drums and other percussion instruments called JOPA. He played Latin music with a band called La Placa and recorded with jazz artists including Stan Kenton. Legend has it he once told an already-famous Billy Joel he'd be a great singer some day.
Some 30 years ago Joe and his wife Virginia (Ginny) had moved to a Lancaster County farm with their two children, now grown. He joked that he was the best conga player on Pennsy Road. He seemed to get a kick out of telling his city friends how he taught a couple white people to play bata drums.
Joe passed away in the spring of 2012.
Below is a recording of lessons from September 2002. We start with bomba, then learn merengue, and finish with rumba tres golpes for dessert. You'll hear Charlie the parrot squawk when we're cooking.