published in Marin County's Classified Gazette
'Spotlight Section' 5 May 04
Craig's Musical Notes by Craig Caffall
When I go out to hear a band I like to be moved by their collective musical diversity and creativity. I've got to feel it in my soul and in my feet. I like to see the camaraderie between the musicians and how they interact with each other. How each instrument is blended together to weave a musical tapestry, if you will, to surround the audience in a warm blanket of sound.
This month's band, Baustista, does just that. They combine spicy Latin beats with driving funk grooves, rounded out by The Norm's rock-fusion guitar style.
Singer/songwriter/guitarist/founder and namesake of the band Norman (The Norm) Bautista has brought together six very talented musicians to make up his Latin-fusion funk sound.
"I had to go through several different players to finally arrive at the point where we are now" says Bautista. "This combination of musicians really knows how to interpret the music the way I heard it in my head when I wrote it."
Bautista's strong percussive foundation is a combintation of three very talented musicians starting with Eric Engstrom on drums. Eric is a Berklee Music School alumnus and has been working the drums since the age of nine. On percussion and timbales is Lane Hiers, who is a native of Louisiana and has played with the "Polytechnic Drum Core" and the progressive fusion band "ABYSS". His percussionist counterpart is conguero Gary DiGrazia. Gary started as a bass player with the 60's band "The Rear Exit", which had a hit with the song "Excitation" in England in 1968. In 2000 he took up the congas and has been studying with conguero Michael Carraballo and Edgardo Cambom. On the bass guitar is Gordon Rhem who has been playing in the Bay Area for the last twenty years. And on keyboards is David Dykstra. David grew up around music influenced by jazz and classical and later rock. He has his own CD out called A Gazelle Hunter's Weekend.
Then there is Norman "The Norm" Bautista on guitar and lead vocals. "I was into the fusion scene when everybody else was into hard rock in the 70's. That's not to say I didn't like rock. I certainly do. It has greatly contributed to the influence of my writing.
"But I just grooved to the fusion sound and it got under my skin" Bautista exclaimed.
As with most bands all the elements of the song come together in the rehearsal room when each band member adds their part to create the song as a whole piece. Bautista chooses lots of good cover tunes, too, that fit their style, which makes for great dancing. They cover tunes by Stevie Wonder, Van Morrison, Sade and Santana and add their own feeling to each song they play.
Bautista has already had the honor of opening for Santana last summer at the Shoreline Amphitheater. Quite a feat for a band that has only been together for almost two years.
Is there a CD coming soon from Bautista? "Yes" says The Norm. "I am still writing more songs for it and the band is working out new grooves for those songs."
You can catch Bautista this month in San Francisco at the Carnaval in the Mission District on May 30th. They will also be performing at the Italian Street Painting festival in downtown San Rafael June 12th in the afternoon and then up at Vaqueros in Sonoma that night. For more information about the band go to their website at www.bautistaband.com to find out about upcoming gigs and other fun stuff.
Oh, and hey Marin County, thank you for supporting live music.
Original Music Band
Samba Rock - Latin Rock - Funk Rock - Jazz Fusion
Influenced by Early Santana, Tower of Power, Doobie Brothers
Al DiMeola, Jean-Luc Ponty, Stanley Clarke and more