were the
For an entirely different kind of loopiness, Samba
Bamba's one-off reunion gig at Martyrs' the week
before was just as ferocious if not nutty.

I do remember seeing them at the now-closed Vinyl bar
on Clybourn Avenue back in the '90s and having the
lead singer, er "personality," one Monty "Sugarloaf"
Mattachine try to force feed me a chunk of the most
vulgar grocery store created birthday cake ( my fillings
are still rattling with the threat of all that sugar ) . What I
didn't entirely remember was how over-the-top,
talented, and—gasp—refreshing Samba Bamba really

Mattachine, who stands damn near seven feet tall and
was dressed in a jacket and ruffled shirt that looked
like he knicked it from a fourth-rate suburban taco joint,
was the ringleader for vocalist Lupe Lowenstein ( who
is both Mexican and Jewish, or as Mattachine said,
"She's got a lot of holidays" ) and co-vocalist, cut-up
and valet Lindo McCartney.

The ironic thing of course is that they gave their cover
songs more respect than they deserved. The opener,
"Sambacabamba ( a mash-up of "Could It Be Magic"
and "Copacabana" that would make Barry Manilow
proud ) was just the tip off. Suzanne Vega ( "Tom's
Diner" ) , Al Green ( "Let's Stay Together" ) , and the
Doors ( "Light My Fire" ) got tumbled and twirled with
Samba Bamba originals like "Cha Cha Heels," "Lust for
Samba," and "Chica."

Nuttier still were the audience participation parts:
Mattachine leading a conga line through Martyrs', a
karaoke contest where the prize was a copy of Forrest
Gump, and the drawing of a matching pencil-thin
mustache just like Mattachine's on the winner's kisser,
and McCartney's deep-funked deadpan take on War's
"Low Rider" ( to the quartet of lovely lesbians step-
dancing to that one, thank you very much... ) .

What ultimately did come back to me was Mattachine's
passionate cooing about the power of Samba Bamba
as the ultimate aphrodisiac and spiritual enhancer with
that insistent disco beat rumpa-thumping behind him.
According to Mattachine, Samba Bamba is the nectar of
the gods, the spirit of the angels, and the fire that burns
from below. Of course he said this with his ever-
quivering lips and that Joel Cairo 'stache wiggling
around and the constant thrust of his hips … and of
course the man was serious.
"Samba Bamba...the ultimate musical aphrodisiac!"
A review of
Bamba! at
April 12, 2010

from Windy
City Times
4-21-10 "BENT
music column
by Vern Hester

Fourth left photo courtesy of Jim Bailey
"Samba Bamba...
B&W photo of Monty with Chica courtesy of Vern Hester