Rant ‘N’ Roll: Abyss; Buyepongo; Pacific Harp Project

In my January 20 Rant, I was supposed to interview professional wrestler Abyss who I got to know personally in San Juan, Puerto Rico, over rice, beans, salsa, rum, cigars, ocean, rock ‘n’ roll and some extremely high-definition women. He didn’t show up for lunch. He didn’t return my emails, voicemails or texts. That night, in a tag-team match, he looked slower than usual. When he fell out of the ring with a sickening thud, I started to worry. I wrote the column anyway, thinking he’d like it, but I never heard back, despite forwarding it to TNA’s publicist. Did he not see it?

Finally, my curiosity got the best of me and I texted him.

Mike: Did u see the article?

Abyss: No, what article?

Mike: Give me your email address and I’ll send it to you [which he did immediately].

I was having some meat loaf at The Widow’s Tavern & Grille in Stockertown, Pennsylvania, when I heard back.

Abyss: To say I’m offended is an understatement.

Mike: What? Why? I thought you’d like it. What didn’t you like?

Abyss: I don’t know where to start and, frankly, don’t care to. It’s not a good article and I am, indeed, offended by it.

Mike: Can I call you?

Abyss: I don’t want to talk to you.

Mike: I thought we were friends!

Abyss: When have I been known to “disappear for days” like you said? Your article sucks and it’s offensive.

Mike: Hey pal, had you answered my calls, we would’ve interviewed instead and it would’ve been a whole different article. I was on deadline and had to come up with a TNA-related piece.

Abyss: I was crazy busy that day entire day working from 10:00 in the morning to 10:30 at night. I was exhausted. It wasn’t personal.

The next time TNA comes to the Sands Entertainment Center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, I fully intend to confront Abyss personally. He wouldn’t dare hit me. Or would he?


Buyepongo is a Los Angeles band steeped solid in a hip-hop Latin salsa punk funk merengue dance groove. Their Todo Mundo debut is 11 tracks of all-original jam-blasted trippiness. I can only envision what it would’ve sounded like back in my LSD days. According to singer/percussionist Meshlee Modesto, the name of the band (they prefer to call it a “fusion tribe”) means “to cause a ruckus.” They got the name from Wu-Tang Clan’s “”Bring Da Ruckus.” Growing up in Southern California as they did, the first incarnation of Buyepongo was more of a hardcore punk/hip-hop collective.

Then they backpacked through Central America.

Soaking up the Afro-Caribbean sounds of Belize and Guatemala filtered through Mexican folk music and the regional spice of what’s known as Garifuna Music, they came back as totally changed men. Garifuna takes its cue from Nicaragua and Honduras traditions handed down from West Africa, drums and maracas in the forefront plus a nifty little dance that goes with it.

Upon their return, vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Yuka Vallejo, bassist Randy Modesto and saxophonist Angel Hernandez added keyboardist Kris Castro and percussionist Larry Harvey to their already heady mix. This lineup gelled almost immediately and when they opened for Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, their rep was set.

Todo Mundo will make you move.


The self-titled CD from Pacific Harp Project is unlike anything I’ve heard in years. We’re not talkin’ blues-harp here. Megan Bledsoe Ward plays the kind of heavenly-sounding harp where angels tread. Now imagine that sound augmented by a vibraphone plus rhythm section on pieces by Ravel, Debussy and Liszt. This 12-track gem will entrance, enchant, mesmerize and hypnotize you into their web of jazz waltzes, folk originals and pop flourishes. It’s different. It’s stimulating. I love it. And it’s good for you.