Even with Concerts Gone, Papi Fimbres is Still Making Music

This is the fourth installment of our contributor project We Count: Latinx Portland in 2020. Subscribe to the Bridgeliner newsletter to follow this series.

“We’ve seen an awesome influx of Latinx people come from LA, the Bay Area, New York and other cities where they can’t afford to live in any longer. That’s made our city a tiny bit more diverse.” —Papi Fimbres

If you know of Papi Fimbres, you probably know him as the drummer for Sávila, aka Willamette Week’s Best New Band of 2018. 

But if you think that’s all he does, you don’t know Papi.

“I am currently in about 17 bands, no joke,” he says. “I have been a full-time musician for well over 6 years, meaning this is my sole job. I do the booking, writing, emailing, scheduling, social mediating, and many other ridiculous things that independent artists must now do to aspire to the next level.”

Papi Fimbres was born in Los Angeles and grew up in the city’s West Lake neighborhood, where gang activity was a daily reality. 

But Papi’s path was always toward music. As a three-year-old, his mother signed him up for a free music program for low-income children, and he learned how to play brass instruments, the piano, and his eventual favorite: the drums. 

Music became a form of therapy for Papi, and it eventually became his career. But now that career is facing the fallout from the coronavirus. 

Since the Covid-19 outbreak, Papi and his wife, Shana Lindbeck, have been playing and writing new music in their basement studio, but it’s not always easy. For one of his bands, Papi has been sending drum tracks by phone to his bandmate, Charlie Salas-Humara, and Charlie has then been turning them into full tracks.

And the pandemic has also tripped up another one of Papi’s projects a free, all ages music fest called HOMIE FEST that Papi and Shana organize every summer in Estacada. The festival, which was supposed to celebrate its sixth anniversary in August, has been cancelled this year.

So it might be a while before you can see Papi perform live again but if you want to hear his music, check out Orquestra Pacifico Tropical, Pungent, Savila, and his other bands on Bandcamp.

Check out the latest music video and mini documentary from Sávila: Échale Sávila, which promotes inter-generational healing through the relationship with their mothers as they speak on themes of Mexican-American identity, resilience,and healing. And consider buying one of their albums to support the cause.    

Read my full story about Papi Fimbres and his musical roots on Medium.