Story by Ignacio Sanguinetti.
Friends of Humberto “Pupi” Menes, along with the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic, will hold a benefit concert for the renowned percussionist this Sunday, October 11 at 2 pm at the Balcony Music Club. The concert will be hosted by “Freddy Omar con su Banda” and features a “descarga” or jam session with Pupi’s fellow musicians. Pupi suffered a debilitating stroke last month, and this event has been organized to raise money to help with his medical bills.
Pupi is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest congueros in New Orleans. Pupi plays with a unique style that mixes tumbadora, bongo and chekere.
Born in the Cuban port city of Matanzas, Pupi began his musical career in the 1960s, playing drums in Miami. He continued playing drums in the rock band ‘Ocean’ before shifting to percussion to play with the great Cuban vocalist Ruben Gonzalez.
Since then, he became a fixture in the New Orleans Latin scene, playing with many popular acts including Santiago, The Iguanas, Caliente, Elegant Gypsy, the Pedro Cruz Band, Acoustic Swiftness, and others. He also has toured and recorded with the funk band Smilin’ Myron.
Today he is a key member of Freddy Omar con su Banda –appearing on all of Freddy Omar’s albums- as well as the Latin band Otra, and the jazz group Two Pan Sam.
“This event is an opportunity for all those who know “Pupi” to show how much we love him and tell him that we are waiting for him”, said Freddy Omar to WWOZ. “Pupi is not only a great musician, he is a good man, a good friend. New Orleans needs his energy on stage", he added.
Pupi was also a volunteer at WWOZ, where he hosted the Latin show whenever he could. “Pupi played with every musician in town, he has a special personality and beat. He has been playing for more than 30 years”, says Yolanda Estrada, who now hosts the show. “There were nights Pupi played with three different bands on the same night,” she added