Have you had an experience that shook you up and changed you?
For Joe Glaser, percussionist and drummer with Alma Desnuda, it happened in 2006 at age 25, when he was sitting in a cubicle at work and learned he had cancer.
The moment when "the walls came down" that were hiding who he truly was. All he could think about was not himself, his good job, and everything else he though was him, but how he was going to tell his family.
For Glaser's friend, Chris Bryden, guitarist and vocalist with Alma Desnuda, it was when he decided to leave his job working in social services at Lincoln Child Center in Oakland.
For Tony Glaser, Joe's brother, it was a night performing to a full house at Blakes on Telegraph in Berkeley when he was 17 and knew he would be a musician.
Joe Glaser quit his job, and has been in remission since 2008, the same year he, Bryden and friend Paul Suhr formed Alma Desnuda—later joined by Tony Glaser.
Alma Desnuda means naked soul in Spanish, and living in a way that is true to themselves is a characteristic shared by the four members of the band.
They've performed at Yoshi's, the Independent, The Great American Music Hall and other Bay Area venues.
You might have seen them play the Danville Farmers market last month.
They will next be at the Fiesta Gigantes, a festival celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month outside AT&T park, on Saturday, Sept. 18th. They will also be performing for a special VIP event that day, benefiting Carlos Santana's Milagro Foundation (see the end of this article for details).
You'll find Alma Desnuda at other venues across the Bay Area before they take off at the end of December for a world tour hitting Bali and Australia (see all tour dates).
I caught up with three members of this locally-grown band to chat about tour life and more.
Danville Patch: What was the best part of the Middleway tour?
Tony Glaser: They day we performed in the food line in LA for the homeless. We had just finished playing for the East LA Boys and Girls Club and played the Viper Room that night. For us to receive a positive response from people who give us love and appreciation is a great feeling. For us, these are the moments when we get so much back.
Danville Patch: How does Alma Desnuda give back to fans and anyone who listens to your music?
Tony Glaser: We see our band giving beyond just music. In this business, it is so much about "look at us." It's so nice to do something and take the focus off us and put it on other people. You will get more if you give more.
Danville Patch: How are you different from other bands?
Chris Bryden: For the longevity of the band we need to stay grounded in a reality that isn't about being rock-stars.
Danville Patch: What was the most challenging part of the tour?
Chris Bryden: Money was always tight and the first leg of the tour was all about learning how to work with our crew (driver, videographer, roadie, four band members). There was something I could understand about it from my experiences traveling but it was the first time we had traveled with a crew. The other challenge was how do we harness the momentum of the tour and utilize it for the future.
Danville Patch: How did you decide you wanted to pursue music as a career?
Chris Bryden: I was frustrated that there wasn't a job associated with the way I wanted to be in the world. I said I have to do something that is true to myself and I have the talent and skills to make that happen.
Danville Patch: What does your family think about the direction the band is taking?
Tony Glaser: I think it's hard for people not to be supportive if they recognize that you are doing what you love.
Danville Patch: How did you feel about missing family or friends while on tour?
Joe Glaser: Because we are all living our dreams homesickness didn't really occur and we got to catch up with old friends in different parts of the country.
Danville Patch: What are you learning from the experience of touring and planning the next tour?
Joe Glaser: I'm learning the importance of detachment— to continually detach from too much thought about where we should be headed next.
Details about the Fiesta Gigantes and the VIP event:
Fiesta Gigantes is Saturday, Sept. 18th from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. in Lefty O'Doul Plaza outside AT&T Park. Admission is free to this event celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. In addition to performances by Alma Desnuda and others at the event, there will be food, arts and crafts and more.
You may also purchase tickets for a VIP event with music by Alma Desnuda before the Giants vs. Brewers game at 6:05 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 18th. Ticket proceeds will benefit Carlos Santana's Milagro Foundation.