Photograph by Robert Tardio
Besos de Coco: Claudia Gomez on tap/percussion, Evona Wascinski on bass, and Lorraine Castellanos on vocals and guitar. “Oh my gosh, that was such a blast.” Gomez says.
Dancer Claudia Gomez seems quite fond of that pillow.
Photograph by Jeremy Eikam
Claudia Gomez keeps a lot of irons in the fire. She’s a musician and a tap dancer, and she taught at Tap Into Yoga & Reiki all over San Diego until just before the pandemic hit when she decided to open up her own studio in North Park (3930 Oregon Street). She was even doing the occasional show at her new space.
“I had a had a few events before the shutdown and then I thought I’ll just continue to do this outside with masks and social distancing,” said Gomez, speaking of her regular live performances held at Bird Park (28th & Thorn, every Saturday.) “I just said ‘let’s go for it.’ We’ve been doing these for just over a month now. It started out with just a few musicians who would come out and sit on the wall and I decided to bring the band Trio Gadjo (Aaron Mahn, Jeremy Eikam, and Jason Durbin) out to the park. I would promote it and tap dance, and during the second set (shows typically run from 5:30 p.m. to sundown) we’d open it up for a jam session.”
What kind of response have these events in the park been getting?
“People really love it,” says Gomez. “People keep telling me how much they’ve missed the music. And why not? You know it’s so beautiful out and the weather has been perfect. And music has a healing effect. I call these ‘sound-showers,’ because when we play our instruments, when I dance, it feels good for everybody.”
On August 8, the event featured a reunion of the band Besos de Coco, featuring Gomez on tap/percussion, Evona Wascinski on bass and Lorraine Castellanos on vocals and guitar. What was that like?
“Oh my gosh that was such a blast. It feels so good to play with them. It was special because Lorraine just had a birthday and it was Evona’s birthday and it was so great to reconnect with them, because we’re like sisters. It was the perfect time and a lot of people came out to see us perform.”
Afterwards, Trio Gadjo played with special guest Gabriel Sundy sitting in on tenor saxophone. There were numerous local musicians including Robert Dove, Mike Benge, Dan Atkinson, and Rob Thorsen who brought their instruments for the jam session during the second set. It felt kind of like a celebration of the jazz community.
Music in the park on a sunny afternoon sounds pretty idyllic. But what about safety in this time of Covid-19?
“I actually do feel safe,” Gomez explained. “I feel safer than most places, because the park is such an open area and we’re out in the sun and for the most part, people observe the social distancing. It feels good to play in an open environment and feel good about it. Because a lot of people have been feeling isolated and depressed and they haven’t had any motivation to go out and do what they love.”
“Putting on these shows and doing my classes outside has really saved me. At first I was feeling crappy and isolated. It was ridiculous. I wasn’t motivated to go out or exercise or anything. Playing again has lifted everyone’s spirits.”
Do you have a message for people who want to attend when it comes to wearing masks?
“Yes,” she answers, “We don’t want any excuses that would lead to us getting shut down. We’re staying healthy and at the same time we’re following the rules so that we can continue to do what we’re doing.”