Meet the Band!
Latin Touch Members!
Luis Salinas, Jr. – (MUSICAL DIRECTOR/ARRANGER, LEAD GUITAR) Luis was born and raised in Sacramento and began playing the guitar when he was twelve years old. Growing up, he listened daily to the big band and Latin sounds of his father’s record collection. Exposure to this sound would eventually inspire Luis to form groups that included a horn section, sometimes incorporating jazz elements into the music of his bands.
Luis comes from a musical family and at one time performed with all of his siblings. After four decades of playing Mexican music in various bands, Luis decided to form a dance band that would incorporate the “Latin Sound” into R&B, 70’s dance music, Funk and Old School - Latin Touch was born. Although his previous musical influences were Mexican bands, Luis’ current band is influenced by Santana, Malo, Tierra, Mana, Old School, and the Cumbia “standards”. Dating back to the 60’s, Luis has played in Los Alegres, La Familia Salinas, Los Rayos del Sol, Sonical, La Familia Loca, and Alincia. He has shared the stage with artists from different genres, from Little Joe y La Familia & Tigres del Norte to Jefferson Starship and The Whispers. Luis believes, “The good Lord has given me a talent that has allowed me to perhaps take people away from their concerns for a moment, by exposing them to one of the greatest therapies in the world – music.”
Margie Ramirez Walker – (LEAD VOCALS, HAND PERCUSSION) Margie is a Northern California girl born in San Jose and raised in Dixon. Margie comes from a long family line of singers, guitarists and percussionists. Although she learned the piano and guitar at an early age, she didn’t sing a single note in public until 1988 when her brother encouraged her to sing a Patsy Cline song on stage one night. She was hooked from then on. This sassy lady now captivates her audiences with her unique voice, stage presence, and her contagious energy – all influenced by the formal training she received from Ana G., renowned vocalist and performance coach.
Although she loves all kinds of music, Margie is a huge fan of the Motown sound and many groups from “back in the day”. She has previously played with XMPT, The Flashbacks, Spirit Feel, Eddie and the T-Birds, and La Familia Loca. And now, as Latin Touch’s female lead singer, she is wining the hearts of audiences with her on-stage charisma, talent, and infectious smile. Whether she is performing on stage or venturing out into the crowd to work it into a frenzy, you can’t help but be drawn to “her world”.
Jose “Pepe” Gutierrez – (LEAD VOCALS, HAND PERCUSSION) Pepe was born in "Tecua City" Jalisco, Mexico and raised in Sacramento. He started singing at the age of five, having been influenced at an early age by the sounds of Elvis and The Beatles. Later, the Mariachi sound would have a musical influence on him, as Pepe started to develop his own style of singing. He is also an accomplished lyricist.
Pepe has performed with Three Shades of Soul, Barkada, and La Familia Loca. Although he enjoys all types of music, his major influences are Santana, Tower of Power, Earth Wind and Fire, and James Brown. Known as “Mr. Soul Man” to his colleagues, teaming up with Margie, they form a dynamic duo on stage. From their playful bantering to their vocal harmonies, Pepe’s and Margie’s chemistry and talent create the perfect blend as they put their own “spin” on Latin Touch’s repertoire.
Rey Jugo – (KEYBOARDS) Rey (a.k.a. Jesse to friends & family) was born and raised in the Philippines where he grew up admiring his parents sing, dance and play various instruments. Rey’s first musical influence comes from his mom who sang soprano for the church choir, and his dad who played guitar and ukelele. Some of his musical influences come from The Beatles, Kinks, Rolling Stones, and The Temptations to name a few.
In addition to being a keyboardist extraordinaire, Rey also enjoys playing the guitar, & ukulele. He has played with bands both in the Philippines and in the area such as Innersoul, Too Smooth, Magic Touch, and New Vintage Gruv. Rey also sings tenor for the St. Clare Parish Church choir. Additionally, he dabbles in poetry, musical composing, and arranging on his spare time.
Rick Mora – (CONGAS, BONGOS, DRUMS) was born and raised in Sacramento. He has been playing music since he was 10 years old. Influenced by the legendary horn player, Maynard Ferguson, Rick took up the trumpet in the late 60’s, eventually playing in the brass section of his high school stage band as well as a Latin youth dance band. Eventually, he became inspired by the great percussionists, Poncho Sanchez and Giovanni Hidalgo, and took up the congas. Along with drummer Manuel Ruedas and Timbalero Victor Aguila, Rick plays a major role in creating the Latin flavor you hear in Latin Touch’s songs.
Rick has played with the Sac High Stage Band, Los Alegres, Survivors, Impact, Sac City College Jazz Band, Smooth Groove, La Familia Loca, Alincia, and Nu Vintage Gruv. He has also shared the stage with George Duke, The Spinners, Little Joe y La Familia, The Whispers, and The Gap Band.
T.J. Munoz (BASS GUITAR) - Born and raised in Yuma, Arizona, T.J.'s musical experience began by singing in Latin at Mass in Catholic school. In high school, he was vocalist and bass player for various rock bands. His rock band influences include Ritchie Valens, Elvis, The Beatles, Santana and many more of the 60's.
Growing up and listening to his father, Tommy Munoz an acomplished trumpet player, he also had the opportunity to be exposed to the American Standards and is a big fan of " Rat Pack Music" which is the music of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr. and others of that era.
After a few years of playing rock, he joined his dad's group, The Tommy Munoz Band as lead vocalist and bass player. This experience was the greatest musical influence of his life. Growing up 8 miles from the border he could always listen to and learn from the music on the radio from Mexico by Los Freddys, Los Muecas, Los Angeles Negros, Los Saylors, Los Humildes and many more. Other Latin influences include Little Joe, Perez Prado, Sonora Santanera and others. T.J. was also a member of "la Familia Loca".
Manuel “Manny” Ruedas – (DRUMS, HAND PERCUSSION) Manny was born in Fairfield, California. He too comes from a family of musicians. His performing dates back to the late 60’s playing with Cold Shot, Los Laguneros (his family band), Los Rayos del Sol, Sonical, and Compadres Jam Band.
Manny and his “compa” Luis (band director) met in the late 70’s when they were dancers with the Ballet del Sol dance troupe. Before long, the two of them collaborated to form the Rayos del Sol folkloric musical group, providing live music for the dance troupe’s presentations. It was there that Manny and Luis forged what appears to be a long-lasting relationship in the field of music, having performed in various groups together over the last thirty years.
Manny’s musical influences tend to come from all genres, from Tex Mex and Norteno, to Cumbia Columbiana, British Rock, and Los Lobos. He is affectionately referred to as “Mr. Happy” because of his ever-present smile and non-stop joking with his band mates. Manny is definitely in his element providing Latin Touch with its rhythmic “heartbeat”.
Larry Bermudez - (ALTO SAX, TENOR SAX, HAND PERCUSSION) Larry grew up in Manteca, California. He started the first rock-n-roll band in Manteca under the name Larry Bee and the Teardrops. Eventually he and his group recorded in Hollywood in 1963.
While in the army, Larry did a two and a half year stint with the Sixth Army Band at the Presidio in San Francisco. During that time he also performed with future members of Cold Blood and Tower of Power.
Larry, who has been performing professionally for almost 50 years, and is known as “the sax screamer”, will impress you as he takes you to the limit with his solos. His musical influences include James Brown, Plas Johnson, Tower of Power, and Chicago. Larry has played with a variety of bands including the original Coasters, Lydia Pense (Cold Blood), Larry and the Teardrops, The Years Later Band, La Familia Loca, and Alincia.
Jim Bartle - TRUMPET, VALVE TROMBONE, MELOPHONE, HAND PERCUSSION) Jim hails from the “windy city” Chicago. He started playing the trumpet when he was eight years old. After attending college as a music major, Jim decided to “hit the road” with various bands. He was eventually drafted and played and toured with the U.S. Air Force Band. When Jim re-entered civilian life, he continued to tour with various bands.
As a member of The Mike Vetro Show, Jim played with guitarist Bill Corgan Sr. (father of Smashing Pumpkins leader/guitarist, Billy Corgan), Lou Rawls, and Fats Domino. Additionally, as a member of The Prescott Big Band, Jim played with Joel DeBatolo, who played bass for Doc Severenson’s Tonight Show Band, and drummer Mel Zelnick of the Benny Goodman Orchestra. He has also shared the stage with REO. Jim has also played with The Mass, Blue Space, La Familia Loca, and Nu Vintage Gruv. He enjoys playing all types of music, having performed with rock bands, R&B bands, “Big” bands and recently Latin bands. Jim states that music is his passion. As Ray Charles once said, “Music is like breathing. I have to have it. It’s part of me.”
Arturo Vertiz – (TRUMPET, FLUGEL HORN, HAND PERCUSSION) Arturo was born in San Francisco, but was raised in San Diego. In 2003, he moved to Sacramento. Arturo has been playing music since he was in the 6th grade. It all started when he saw the movie, “Young Man with a Horn”. He states that from that point on, he was hooked.
Arturo’s musical influences are La Sonora Santanera, Perez Prado, and Acerina y su Danzonea, and “my parents”. He has played with Mariachi Xihuatili, Los Dukas, Para Ti, and La Familia Loca. Fondly known as “Mr. Mariachi” to his band mates, Arturo’s trumpet phrasing is clearly influenced by the traditional music of Mexico. Watching him on stage, it is clear that Arturo’s entire soul is is in the show.
Victor Aguila – (TIMBALES) Victor was born in El Salvador and is considered one of the premier timbaleros in the area. His musical influences come from different areas of the music scene. On the progressive jazz side, drummer Steve Gadd, from Chick Corea made an impact on him. On the Rock & Roll side, the drummers from Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Rush have influenced Victor’s style of playing. But, it is the countless hours of listening and practicing to LP’s from the past that featured the “awesome timbaleros of the day” such as Pete Escovedo, Sheila E., Karl Perazzo, and Endel Dueno that played a huge part in Victor’s current playing style.
While living in El Salvador, Victor toured throughout Central America playing jazz, cumbias, salsa, merengue, disco, and funk with various bands. Via Lactea was one of his favorite bands to perform with since it featured musicians that played at least two instruments. After moving to the United States, Victor played with several bands in Washington D.C., San Francisco (where he played with former Santana keyboardist, Richard Kermode), and Sacramento.
In addition to playing timbales with Latin Touch, Victor is involved in various musical projects. Victor is known for his finesse as a percussionist as well as a soloist whose playing will stop you in your tracks. The public has been known to stop dancing and watch and listen as he “blasts off” on a solo, playing intricate rhythms with lightning fast precision.