Kyle Ponterio says he is one of about 30 professional marimba players in San Diego and the only player in a local rock band.
"I was teaching percussion at a local school," says the classically trained Ponterio. "They were getting rid of old drums that were not to be used again because of missing parts. The marimba was broken down in one of the cabinets. I told the band director, 'If you ever want to get rid of it, just let me know.' She said, 'Okay, just don't tell anybody.' "
Ponterio says he spent about $500 to repair broken keys on the 60-year-old instrument. A new marimba costs between $2000 and $17,000.
"The material they use to make new marimbas is not as good. They used to be made of rosewood, but rosewood is becoming scarce. You can't import rosewood into the U.S. anymore." He says new marimbas often use a lesser wood or synthetic material.
When Ponterio joined Manganista last year, it was the only band he'd been in outside of a school or marching band. He took over the complex parts that had already been written for a synthesized marimba by singer/songwriter Matt Rhea, who admits his six-man band may not be appreciated by mainstream music fans. He uses Danny Elfman as a point of reference.
"Anybody who doesn't appreciate or at least respect Oingo Boingo knows nothing about music. There are countless guitar bands out there. What would be the point of contributing new music to that category?"
Manganista appears Saturday at Pete's Place in La Mesa and December 9 at Squid Joe's in Carlsbad.