Gino Gamboa was born in and raised in Peru where he was introduced to folkloric Peruvian music at a young age. He began to sing and play guitar and later learned to play the cajon, an Afro-Peruvian percussion instrument shaped like a wooden box. The instrument was created by enslaved Africans who were forbidden from playing the drums. They realized the boxes used for carrying fruit and other items could be used to create drum-like sounds. The same group of people also created the quijada, a dried out donkey’s jawbone which creates a buzzing sound when the teeth bump against each other.
Inspired by the rich musical legacy of his native Peru, Gamboa joined a band called Armonia Criolla. He would practice with them right after his shifts at a local hospital where he worked as a psychologist.
Gamboa left Peru with his wife almost 30 years ago in search of new horizons. He came to the United States with the hope to continue promoting Andean and Afro-Peruvian culture. Upon arriving, he met an uncle—also a musician—who introduced him to the Peruvian music scene of LA. He joined the Andean folk band Sajama which has been playing at Universal Studios for 20 years and started teaching Afro-Peruvian music classes.
Today, Gamboa continues to play for several Peruvian bands and a Son Jarocho band, a style of music from Veracruz, Mexico which also utilizes the cajon. He builds his own cajones and plays at various Peruvian events and still teaches. Gamboa often goes to families’ homes where his cajon lessons also serve as a way to release stress and create new family dynamics, a connection he made by fusing his psychology background and musical knowledge.
“I think I’m one of the people who participates the most Peruvian events a year,” says Gamboa. “It’s how I stay alive, because it’s hard being away from your country. I’ve created my own Peru here so I don’t miss it as much.”
Through his work as a teacher and musician and by advocating for the designation of a portion of Hollywood as “Peru Village,” Gamboa continues his mission of promoting Peruvian culture in Los Angeles.
I started teaching when I came to Los Angeles almost 30 years ago. I came here with the goal to promote Peruvian culture. The term ``to promote`` implies ``to share`` - Gino Gamboa