The Rocks Off 100: Jose "Chapy" Luna, Percussionist Con Corazón
Welcome to the Rocks Off 100, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too. See the entire Rocks Off 100 at this link.
One of the city's hardest-working musicians is a percussionist known simply as "Chapy." Whether sitting behind the drum set for Los Skarnales or on the congas with The Suffers, this beat keeper interjects an unmatched energy and soul into every project he produces.
photo by Marco Torres
Who?"My name is Chapy, also known as Jose Luna," says Chapy. "I'm 24 years young. I come from a family of musicians, my entire childhood revolved around music. I have memories of my cousins and I dressing up as KISS and putting on concerts with buckets and cardboard guitars in my grandma's garage when I was about five years old.
"The best shows we ever put on were always during the holiday season, because we got to use fireworks," he adds. "One time we even had to cancel a show because we used an atomic smoke bomb in a closed garage and almost suffocated."
"I started playing paid gigs when I was about 14 years old in hole-in-the-wall cantinas, quinces, and weddings... with the occasional strip club," continues Luna. "My dad and uncles' band (Pasion de Luna) needed a percussionist and I guess I did a good job. Since my cantina days, I've come a long way. I've played with the Solja Kings in front of 20,000 people, won first place in a NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Competition in California, and have had the opportunity to play with the percussionist from Santana."
Currently, continues Luna, "I'm playing with who I think are two of the best bands in Houston: Los Skarnales and The Suffers. I also have side projects like Del Aguajal and Los Ladrones, and last but not least Chango Man and Los Guerreros de la Musica! I also do random salsa gigs when they need me, as well as recording sessions. Damn, that's a lot!"
Photo by Paty Lennon Photography (courtesy of the artist)
Home Base: Luna says he currently works for one of Houston's largest youth-oriented nonprofits. He practices three times a week at Francisco Studios with his various groups, including his newest Los Ladrones, which he started with his good friend Marlon of Houston B-boy crew Havikoro.
"I perform wherever I get invited to perform," Luna says. "Shitholes, holes in the wall, cantinas, and festivals. Some of my favorite places to play are Fitzgerald's and the Continental Club."
Why Do You Stay In Houston? "Because of the culture," Luna says. "I love to see how much Houston is growing. You really can't get any more international than this city.
"I can get anything from micheladas, pupusas, fried grasshoppers, and so on," he adds. "Besides the traffic, I really do love Houston. And most importantly because my family is here. Shout-out to Ama (my grandma), El Beef Man, and everyone else (you know who you are). Love you guys!
War Story: "Eeesh, I don't even know where to start," Luna begins. "So many good ones.
One time with my uncle's band, we were playing at a cantina and during our set some people started fighting and shooting. [It] got so bad the damn security guy ran away rather than stopping them. Another time in Pasadena, there was a drug bust at another cantina we were playing at and my little scrawny ass got kicked in the chest by a damn cop.
Last one: during a gig in Alabama with Solja Kings at a shitty club, rain leaking through the ceiling, all our equipment got wet. To top it off, we had to make it back as fast as possible, driving all night to make it in time for the XO concert we were playing in the morning. Shit was intense!
Music Scene Pet Peeve: "People who judge you based on your age, not because of the way you play," Luna says. "And badass musicians who are total assholes."