LET’S REVIEW! Peruvian crooner delights guests at La Jolla Community Center event


Peruvian crooner Ossie Arciniega and his three-man Latin American band wooed them and won them, and got most of them up to dance at a La Jolla Community Center (LJCC) party on June 30.

It was a romantic and sociable evening that included Latin folk music played on amplified acoustic guitars, with vocals, dancing and a dinner of street tacos, beans, rice and wine — plus coffee and cookies — the night added up to one of the best deals you can find for La Jolla night life.

“Our La Jolla Community Center is a hidden gem,” LJCC Executive Director Nancy Walters said with a smile. “But a lot of people still don’t know about us and all we have to offer here. We are a privately funded senior-activity center. During the day, we host classes in painting, yoga, dance, foreign languages and film. At night, we feature a great concert series with a three-part focus on jazz, opera and Latin American folk music. We are one of the few places left were you can still go out for dinner and dance to a live band.”

The band for the evening was headed by guitar player and vocalist Arciniega who is originally from Peru. Arciniega said he came to the United States to open up a Peruvian restaurant in Chicago with his wife, Julia Uhll, who attended the show. They are now both Realtors in Rancho Bernardo during the day, while enjoying the music scene at night.

Ossie made everyone happy by singing such classics as “Cielito Lindo” and “Moliendo Cafe,” along with his own songs which he says are, “Poetry set to music.” Arciniega’s son, A.J., played the “cajón,” a rectangular wooden percussion instrument you sit on as you tap out rhythms on the front side. A.J.’s photo recently accompanied the article “TERI on Tour,” which appeared in Drumhead Magazine. A.J. participates in TERI, an organization that helps people with special needs by way of music instruction.

On lead guitar was Carlos Velasco, who trained at the National Conservatory of Music in Mexico City. Velasco leads an evening music program at the Hotel Indigo in Del Mar, on first and third Tuesdays of each month. Plus, he is the emcee for an open-mic program on Latin American music, 7 p.m. Thursdays at the Sheraton on La Jolla Village Drive.

On bass guitar was the versatile Kevin Moraing, who graduated from UC San Diego in International Relations. Coming up to the mic to sing along on a few songs was La Jolla resident Eliezar “Eli” Lombrozo, a retired IBM electrical engineer who used to design IBM’s big computers in New York City.

In the audience was Alaina Martin who sings with guitarist Velasco at the Sheraton. Her observation was that the musicians in Arciniega’s band were “all highly accomplished.” B.B. Alexander, La Jolla Women’s Club director (2010-2012), was also at the show. Born in Santiago, Chile, she now heads up The North County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Another La Jollan in the audience, who helps Arciniega with promotions, was Mary Rayes, a self-described “Southern Gal” from Mobile, Alabama, who likes to sing country songs at the Thursday Sheraton event.

More music events at Community Center

Friday, July 28: As part of its Fourth Friday Jazz Series, the LCC will present vocalist Melissa Morgan, guitarist Graham Dechter, and bass player Alex Frank in ‘Gems from the Great American Songbook.’ The reception starts at 7 p.m., the concert at 8 p.m. Morgan was a semi-finalist in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, made Downbeat Magazine’s list of Jazz Vocalist Stars, and was considered for a Grammy nomination in the categories of Best Vocal Jazz Album and Best Improvised Solo in 2107. Tickets (admission, hors d’oeuvres and free valet parking) are $18 for LJCC members and $23 for non-members.

Saturday, Aug. 5: At 6:30 p.m. LJCC will present ‘Noche Latina,’ a night of Latin jazz fusion, featuring guitarist Julio de la Huerta, who will team up with vocalist Franky Romero. Luis Romero will be on bass and Diego Velasquez on percussion. Tickets (dinner, wine, dancing and valet parking) are $30 and $35.

Other musical events in the works include a performance by international opera star Daniel Hendricks and a CD release party for Tijuana-based singer, Camia.

La Jolla Community Center is at 6811 La Jolla Blvd. (858) 459-0831.