Rest in Peace: A Tribute to Johnny Polanco

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Johnny Polanco, a beloved salsa artist well known in Southern California and in the salsa dance world, died June 2nd 2015 from complications stemming from a recent heart attack.

He was a regular performer in San Diego and had some great shows as you can see from one of his past events in San Diego:

I had the opportunity to interview Johnny a few years ago (you can see it here) and I’m still in shock regarding his passing.  He was a great person with a real passion for salsa music.

Please pray for Johnny’s soul and his surviving family as they cope with his loss.

John ;-)


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Computer Tech Meets Salsa Dancing: Dimelo! Records’ Conga USB Drive

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

This is a little different but very cool.  Dimelo! Records now has a Congo USB Flash Drive that is actually shaped like a Conga drum!  The drive has capacity to hold up to 2GB of memory and is ideal for transporting  your personal data, documents, photos, Jpeg’s, and or MP3’s.

The drive works with any system supporting USB 1.1 or 2.0 standard protocols Including LCD TV’s, Set Top Boxes, Receivers, Digital Instruments, Keyboards and or Computer Operating Systems:Windows 2000, ME, XP, Vista, Windows 7, MAC OS 8.8, OS 9 and OS X.

What’s really cool is that Dimelo! Records includes 20 Free Salsa MP3s Pre-loaded On The Conga USB Drive. You get samples of the best In Latin Music with Dimelo! Records recording artists: Chino Espinoza, Lucky 7 Mambo, La Charanga Cubana, Orq. Tabaco Y Ron, and Johnny Polanco.  You can buy the Original Conga USB Flash Drive online at Dimelo! Records.  Check it out!

John ;-)


Dimelo! Records wants San Diego to Hop on Their Bus and Join the Party December 10th

Monday, November 16, 2009

That’s right! Dimelo! Records is hosting their annual Holiday Party on December 10th and this year they are hosting over 50 Latin music groups for the event.

Dimelo! Records recording artists Orquesta Tobaco y Ron, Chino Espinosa, La Charanga Cubana, Johnny Polanco, and Lucky 7 Mambo are just some of the great acts that will be performing live at the Mayan Nightclub where the event will take place.

San Diego salsa dancers have the opportunity to take part in this great event and hop on the Dimelo! Records Tour bus giving us all round trip travel to the event. For more information about the bus and event make sure you check out the Dimelo! Records website.

See you at the Mayan Nightclub December 10th!

Dimelo! Records Exclusive Recording Artist Johnny Polanco y Su Conjunto Amistad: A Ritmo Bello Interview

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

As any salsa dancer will tell you, it’s ten times better dancing to live music as compared to recorded music.  The obvious reason for this is that the salsa dancer can really connect with the energy, enthusiasm, and excitement of the live entertainer as the performance goes on.

Johnny Polanco and his group La Conjunto Amistad are a prime example of how great live salsa music is to the dancer and listener alike.  With years of experience in the salsa music world, Johnny Polanco is a rare gem that plays frequently in the Southern California area.  I had a chance to talk with Johnny Polanco before his upcoming performance at Anthology night club this Saturday October 17 and learned that if something is to be done, you ‘DO IT WITH SALSA!’  I hope you enjoy the interview which follows below.


Ritmo Bello: Johnny, thanks for taking the time to address the Ritmo Bello dance community. Let’s begin.  What would you say is the main focus of your salsa music?

Johnny Polanco: Hi John. The main focus of my music are two reasons.  One is to make everyone dance.  Secondly is to give the listener a great visual through our performances.  Everyone listens to CD’s.  But it’s a lot different when you actually see it “live”.  The listener can actually feel and absorb the music.  It becomes more versatile.  And the most important issue about a “live” performance is that the number can be stretched out a little longer, thus letting the band be more creative.  Especially during the solos.

Tito Puente once told me, “Live tells no lie”.  AND THAT’S SO TRUE.  In this age of recording and digital “Pro Tools” you can do wonders in the recording studio.  But you can “clean it up live”!

Ritmo Bello: What are the origins of your salsa music career?

Johnny Polanco: My career begin in the Bronx, New York City.  I performed with various bands, in the earlier days, but the first known band I played with was with JOHNNY PACHECO and PETE “EL CONDE” RODRIGUEZ.  I was 17 years old.

Ritmo Bello: Why did you choose La Conjunto Amistad for your band name?

Johnny Polanco: I choose Conjunto Amistad because the band was composed of all of my friends.

Ritmo Bello: What types of influences have impacted how you’ve created your salsa music?

Johnny Polanco: The conjunto music of ARSENIO RODRIGUEZ, who is one of the most well known Cuban tres guitar players.  Also the BIG 3 bands of the fifties that consisted of TITO PUENTE, TITO RODRIGUEZ and MACHITO.  The sounds of trio music like LOS PONCHOS and TRIO MATAMOROS also played a role.

And believe it or not,  the music of the big band era featuring FRANK SINATRA, TONY BENNETT, JOE WILLIAMS, SARAH VAUGHN and many others from that era were so musically rich for me to listen.

Ritmo Bello: How and where do you find inspiration for creating new salsa songs?

Johnny Polanco: The inspirations come to me in spurts.  That’s why I always  try to have something to write notes or my cell phone to record the moments.  My song feature all different types of topics.  If you listen to my latest CD, “AMISTAD PARA EL MUNDO ENTERO” you will see the many topics.

Ritmo Bello: What has your experience been like working with Dimelo Records?

Johnny Polanco: My experiences with Dimelo Records has been an enjoyable one and something that I wish I would have done years ago.  Nissim Baly is a great guy and is very  business savvy in the direction that the recording industry has been heading.  He possesses very strong marketing skills and that has contributed immensely in the success of the bands under his label.  Not to mention his assistant Valerie Guzman.  She is definitely on the ball at the office.

Ritmo Bello: Can you tell me a little about your CD’s that you’ve released to date?

Johnny Polanco: Absolutely.  Amistad Para El Mundo Entero is my best production yet.  It has 14 original, never recorded numbers.  It features some of the best  musicians in Salsa music today such as RAY DE LA PAZ,  FRANKIE VASQUEZ,  AZUQUITA, FRANKIE MORALES, JIMMY BOSCH, ARTIE WEBB, NINO JESUS and others.  The production was great.  It took a while but I’m very happy with it.  I also put on it, my version of “Happy Birthday”.  It has been very popular in all the clubs.

Ritmo Bello: Are there current plans for new CD releases coming up soon?

Johnny Polanco: The last CD has only been out for 9 months and DIMELO RECORDS is going to release it on their label soon.  My next CD is going to be recorded live on a venue to be announced later.  I feel that this will really capture the true sound of the band.

Ritmo Bello: I’ve noticed that there are a number of videos on YouTube showcasing your salsa music.  How has YouTube and other types of social media like Facebook and Twitter helped you gain more exposure worldwide?

Johnny Polanco: It truly has.  My music has reached places throughout the world that I haven’t traveled to yet.  We have had the pleasure of working with Albert Torres, who has been my personal manager for 15 years.  And he is helping create and participate at all these Salsa Congresses world wide.  These types of social medias have been a blessing.  Also non commercial radio has played an important part also.  They play everyones music and we are very blessed to have Canto Tropical and Alma Del Barrio here in Los Angeles.

Ritmo Bello: What are some of your best memories from your performances? Are there any in particular that stand out in your mind?

Johnny Polanco: Oh GOD, there are so many because each of those have left me with something unique.  Such as performing for our new L.A. Philharmonic conductor from Venezuela, Gustavo Dumadel a couple of weeks ago at the Hollywood Bowl. He is the first Hispanic to lead this great orchestra.  Working with Prince in Las Vegas was great too.  He is an extraordinary musician.  Doing the 2007 Playboy Jazz Festival., the 50th Anniversary of the Grand Prix in Macau.  Doing our Mayor’s Inaugural Ball.  And the many Salsa Congresses throughout the world such as in Spain,  Toronto,  Japan, New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Vancouver etc.

Ritmo Bello: I’ve seen you perform in San Diego in the past. How often do you make it down to San Diego and when can we expect to see you again in America’s Finest City?

Johnny Polanco: I don’t perform as much as I like but I will be performing Sat Oct 17th at Anthology.  This is the premier venue to perform in San Diego.  It is such a  beautiful supper club with great sound, food and hospitality.  I am so looking forward to it!

Ritmo Bello: What advice can you give to up and coming salsa singers?

Johnny Polanco: The best advice is to listen to the old stuff from the early years. Especially from the 70’s.  All those guys are now salsa legends now.  PERIOD.  I had the pleasure of working with many of them.  Their sonero’s and deliveries are unmatched.  Any vocalist after that era will tell you that they were influenced by them.  If they don’t admit it, they are just plain lying.

Ritmo Bello: Is there anything else you’d like to share that I haven’t covered so far?

Johnny Polanco: You covered many of the issues that are important to me.  But the final thing I would like to say is to please support live entertainment.  It take an enormous commitment for someone to get musicians together and form a band.  And a lot of work to get music and the administrative side of it in getting booked.  It’s not easy.  But we do it to spread the music, make you feel good, help you meet new friends, dance to great songs, see musicians do what we do best and let’s face it guys.  The most beautiful women in the world are dancing to salsa and waiting for you.  So if you guys aren’t Salsa dancing,  you better get some lessons because you are DEFINITELY missing out.  Most clubs offer lessons. So you have no excuse.  Ever wonder where your best friends at?  He is at a salsa club dancing away with the girl of your dreams Ha, Ha.

Ritmo Bello: Do you have contact information in case anyone from the Ritmo Bello audience wants to contact you?

Johnny Polanco: Yes.  My website is Also we have a hotline where you can find out where we are at on a weekly basis at 562-220-4929.

Ritmo Bello: Johnny, thank you so much for your time and I hope to attend some of your salsa performances in the near future.

Johnny Polanco: It has been a pleasure and hope to see everyone at Anthology this week.  As I always say, “DO IT WITH SALSA”.  Gracias.

Connect with Salsa Dancers in San Diego and Worldwide via Twitter…

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

If you are like me I’m sure that when you travel you have one thing on your mind, salsa dancing.  Okay, maybe not but in all reality it is probably something that may cross your mind and you might want to take advantage of in another city.

Over the last couple of months I’ve been using Twitter (see the video above for a short overview)  to learn about the salsa dance scene in different places ranging from New York to Croatia.  Some of the folks I’ve met through Twitter that are into salsa dancing like me include Becoming a Salsero (Walter De Rooij), Dena from VidaSalsera, and DimeloRecords. Through my use of Twitter I now have a better sense of what to expect when I travel to different cities in terms of salsa dancing.   I also have people to meet up with when I visit.

Here in San Diego there are lots of people in the salsa dance scene who are using Twitter as well.  Some of them include Addicted2Salsa’s Anthony Persaud, Cafe Sevilla, A Time to Dance Studio, and Manny Cepeda.

Try using Twitter and Twitter Search to find others interested in salsa dancing.  Don’t forget to add Ritmo Bello to your follow list on Twitter!

Dimelo! Records Revisited: Dimelo! TV

Monday, March 9, 2009

Dimelo Records

A while back I interviewed Salsa Dance Recording Company Dimelo! Records and learned a great deal about the work involved in supporting up and coming salsa artists.

I went back recently to their website and noticed that they’ve done a great job of expanding their video selection under Dimelo! Records TV.  The videos I posted here are a good sampling of the type of events Dimelo! TV covers.  Check out their website for more information.   See you all on the dance floor!

Salsa Recording Artists Wanted, Ritmo Bello Interview with Dimelo Records

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

There is more to salsa than just the dance. Salsa, of course, is also about the music itself and the salsa recording artists that allow for all of us to continue dancing. Many of these salsa recording artists would never be known without any of the salsa recording labels waiting to discover them. I recently had an opportunity to sit down with salsa recording label Dimelo! Records to discuss this and the efforts they are putting forth to support new salsa recording talent.


Ritmo Bello : What is the mission and focus of your organization as it pertains to the San Diego Salsa community?

Dimelo! Records : We would like to perform more live gigs in San Diego. We have recently purchased a "Dimelo! Records Van" that will allow all our bands to travel to and from the area more conveniently. We have recently launched a Social networking site which will allow us to interact with more Salseros. We hope to better understand the communities outside of Los Angeles through this medium.

Ritmo Bello: What are the origins of your organization?

Dimelo! Records: Dimelo! Records was founded in 1998 in Los Angeles. It is a subsidiary of Latin Music Entertainment, Inc. a full service music company, which produces, licenses, manufactures, markets and distributes all its own product independently since 1994.

Ritmo Bello : Are there any artists you are currently promoting that you’d like the public to know more about?

Dimelo! Records : Dimelo! Records currently has 3 artists on their roster….Our 1st release was "Salsa De Verda" as performed by Orquesta Tabaco y Ron in 1998, since their first release, "OTR" has released 6 albums on the Dimelo! imprint, including one remix album, and a live recording. Our second addition to the Dimelo! line up, and of Costa Rican decent, was Chino Espinoza y Los Dueńos Del Son. Extremely popular, Chino Espinoza is the most booked band in Los Angeles. His discography includes, "Pura Vida", "Maria", a Salsa Christmas album. Our most recent and third artist is, La Charanga Cubana. Their 2007 freshman release on Dimelo! Records was immediately, nominated for a Latin Grammy for Best Traditional Tropical Album of The Year. They are currently, in the studio vigorously wrapping up their follow up recording.

Ritmo Bello: How does an up and coming Salsa artist sign on with your label?

Dimelo! Records: We are a boutique niche label. We seek bands with a heavy commitment to live gigs. We are always looking for a great opportunity to include a fresh and unique piece to our arsenal of artists. We always welcome new material for review. Please send any information to:

Valerie Guzman

Marketing Department

Dimelo! Records

10835 Chandler Blvd.

North Hollywood, CA 91601 USA

Yahoo Messenger: dimelolife

AIM: dimelolife

Twitter: dimelolife

Ritmo Bello : Anything else you’d like to share with the general public? I heard you mention the launch of a social networking site, right?

Dimelo! Records: will be a major commitment for us in 2008. Although still in beta, we plan to officially launch the site in a few months. DimeloLife is not about one record label or a handful of recording artists, or select events. DimeloLife will be ALL things Salsa, every recording artist, every dancer, every promoter, every dance-club, every night – an online Salsa Social Community. DimeloLife will be the place to share videos, audio, photos, blogs/stories with unlimited media uploads…all for free – there will never be a cost. This site will also be the home of Dimelo! TV our new video pod-cast network which will include general interest programming, Salsa videos, and Special Event coverage.

Again, our official launch is around two months away. We would like for you and your readers to beta test the site with us. We are slowly opening it up to a few exclusive friends to get their accounts set up and upload some media before we officially launch. Feel free to invite a few other of your own special friends to setup their accounts, add some pics and video, and chat it up. This invitation will guarantee you "Founding Member" status, which will be rewarded in a unique Dimelo! manner before the end of the year.

Use this link for now to take a sneak peak and set up an account:

Ritmo Bello: Is there contact information available to reach you for more information?

Dimelo! Records: Yes, please send any enquiries to:

Valerie Guzman

Marketing Department

Dimelo! Records

10835 Chandler Blvd.

North Hollywood, CA 91601 USA

Yahoo Messenger: dimelolife

AIM: dimelolife

Twitter: dimelolife

John F. Bello

Meet John ;-)

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