The 2019 Music on the Half Shell series will begin Tuesday with Cuban ensemble Orquesta Akokán.

“Orquesta Akokán is, what I would call, a classic Cuban group in the style of the ‘40s and the ‘50s,” said Kelly Leonard, a member of the Music on the Half Shell committee. “It’s a classic sound that is melded into today’s sound as well.”

Orquesta Akokán is a group of musicians that, according to their biography, is reinvigorating “the sound of the golden era of Cuban mambo with a bold new energy.”

The founding members of the group include singer José “Pepito” Gómez, producer Jacob Plasse and arranger Michael Eckroth.

But along with Gómez as lead singer and Plasse as arranger and pianist, the band includes César Lopez on alto saxophone, Evaristo Denis on baritone saxophone, Jamil Schery and José Luis “El Chewy” Hernandez on tenor saxophone, Carlos “Afrokán” Alvarez Guerra, Heikel Fabián Trimiño and Yoandy Argudin on trombone, Santiago Ceballos Seijido and Harold Madrigal Frías on trumpet, Itai Kriss on flute, Eduardo Lavoy Zaragoza on bongo, Otto Santana Selis on conga and sharing timbale duty with Carlitos Padron.

The band made their American debut in July of last year, mere months after the March release of their self-titled album.

“We have had other bands of this ilk before,” Leonard said. “Whenever we’ve had that Caribbean/Latin music, it’s really been very well popular with the Half Shell crowd.”

According to event organizer Clint Newell, the committee decided to start the concert series early this year specifically to include this group.

The Music on the Half Shell concert series is now in its 28th year and is held at Stewart Park in Roseburg. Shows begin at 7 p.m.

Spots can be claimed on a first come, first serve basis starting at 5 a.m. the same day as the concert. Blankets can be placed on the hill and near the stage. Chairs are welcome at the top of the hill and on the perimeter.

Food will be available for purchase from various vendors.

Parking can be found at the park, at Legion Field across from the park and in the paved lot connecting the YMCA to the softball fields on Stewart Parkway. Cyclist are welcome to use the bike corral, which will be manned for free by a local youth group.

“I think (the band is) going to be really good,” Leonard said. “I think that Latin beat is going to get a lot of people up and dancing and it’s going to be a lot of fun to go to.”

Erica Welch is the special sections editor for The News-Review. She can be reached at or 541-957-4218.

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Erica Welch is the special sections editor for The News-Review, mother of two and a native of Roseburg. She is an alumni of RHS, UCC and Western Oregon University. Contact her at or 541-957-4218.

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