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This family tribe has been connected by music for more than 100 years

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Rhythm Tribe is a family band made up of 62-year-old founder Thomas Guzman-Sanchez, his son 26-year-old Mason Guzman-Sanchez on guitar and vocals, 23-year-old daughter Brisa Guzman-Sanchez on vocals, and family friend Esau Garcia on percussion.(Photo by Tony Triche) 

By | |Richard Guzman | riguzman@scng.com | Press Telegram

PUBLISHED: December 28, 2021 at 9:31 a.m. | UPDATED: December 28, 2021 at 9:31 a.m.

When Thomas Guzman-Sanchez wanted to get the family band back together, he didn’t need to recruit some of the old members of his Latin R&B fusion band to see if they wanted to get back in the studio. Instead he simply got his kids to join his group — after all, music has been this local family’s business for more than 100 years. “When I decided to do this with the kids it really wasn’t to be recording artists, it was just to record together as a family,” said the 62 year-old who is the founder of Rhythm Tribe, which was originally formed in 1988 and had a pretty decent run before disbanding in 1993. But that family jam ended up resurrecting Rhythm Tribe with son 26-year-old Mason Guzman-Sanchez on guitar and vocals, 23-year-old daughter Brisa Guzman-Sanchez on vocals, and family friend Esau Garcia on percussion.


The San Fernando Valley-based group released its second EP with the new lineup in September titled “Next Level,” an Afro-Latin R&B-laced collection of six groovy songs.

“I would say this album has a different sound for every song. It pays homage to our Puerto Rican heritage, our Latin culture. We hear R&B, bachata, boleros, samba, so all good types of vibes,” Brisa Guzman-Sanchez said.


Musical Vibes

Music has been running through the family’s roots since 1915, starting with Rafael “Fello” Sanchez, who was a well-known Puerto Rican guitarist. “Fello” Sanchez’s son Rafael Guzman-Sanchez followed in his father’s footsteps, performing as a professional guitarist throughout the 1950s playing Latin music mostly on the radio in the Bay Area. Rafael’s son, Thomas Guzman-Sanchez, represents the third generation of family musicians. He founded Rhythm Tribe in 1988 as a four-piece featuring his wife Marla on keyboards and vocals, his brother Paul Guzman-Sanchez on bass, and friend Steve Meade on drums.

The band experienced some success after signing to Elektra and then BMG, appearing on  MTV with a video for the song“Gotta See Your Eyes” in 1991. That same year the band also made an appearance on “The Tonight Show,” and the band’s song “Gotta See Your Eyes” also appeared on the soundtrack for the 1991 film “Backdraft.” Thomas Guzman-Sanchez even got to record a song with his dad in 1988 titled “Forever Mine.” It was recorded a year before his father passed away. Things slowed down a bit after that and the band eventually disbanded in 1994.

“We toured the world, and it was pretty amazing,” Thomas said. Neither Mason nor Brisa remember anything about the band’s success because they were born after the band disbanded. “Growing up I just saw them as my parents,” Brisa Guzman-Sanchez said. But like their parents and grandparents, music was part of their DNA and came naturally to the siblings, who grew up playing jam sessions with their parents and other family members. It wasn’t until 2017 after a family jam session that Thomas got the idea of reviving the band with his kids. “I just realized it sounded amazing. It wasn’t even about trying to be in the industry, it was about trying to do something creative together and that’s what’s great about it,” Thomas said. The family describes the new version of Rhythm Tribe as more stripped down and raw than the more highly produced original band. That’s clear in songs like, well “Make it Clear,” a heavily R&B-leaning love song and another tune called “Goodnight.” “That one is a bit more lullaby style with that bachata feel that kind of soothes you with this strange haunting melody,” Mason said. And as far as being in a band with their father, for the siblings it couldn’t feel more natural. “It’s a lot of fun, it really allows for creativity to flourish and grow without the stress of stepping on each other’s toes because we’ve been around each other long enough,” Mason Guzman-Sanchez said.

For information and to purchase the EP go to: dancemaster.com