BARRIO – His passion is playing percussion at salsa clubs, but Charlie Montoyo also thrives at his day job: managing the Toronto Blue Jays.
The salsa band was 45 minutes into their first set at Lula Lounge on a recent Saturday when Charlie Montoyo showed up at the front door. An owner of the music club spotted Montoyo and led him and his group to a table reserved for them closest to the stage.
Montoyo, 56, took off his jacket and waved to the band members he knew. Moments later, Montoyo, the manager of the Toronto Blue Jays — one of the top teams in Major League Baseball — was up there with the band and was handed a güiro, a staple of Latin American music. A smile remained on his face for the next two and a half hours.
Baseball may be the driving force of Montoyo’s life, but music has been the underlying beat. His stadium office is cluttered with bongos, congas, timbales, maracas and records. He plays salsa music to relax before games.
During spring training in 2019, Montoyo hosted an impromptu performance in his office in Dunedin, Fla., with the singer Marc Anthony, whose entertainment company has a baseball agency that represents the Blue Jays star first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Anthony sang “Aguanile,” the salsa classic by Willie Colón and Héctor Lavoe, while Montoyo handled the bongos. Other members of the Blue Jays coaching staff from Puerto Rico joined in.
Montoyo first played at Lula Lounge in 2019. During pregame batting practice in May, he met some of the musicians from the club who had heard about his musical ability through mutual friends. In their conversation, Luis “Luisito” Orbegoso, a well-known local artist, said he could tell Montoyo knew what he was talking about and invited him to the club that night. Montoyo came and played, and that started their friendship.
Montoyo has played at Lula Lounge six times in all, including twice this season after Saturday afternoon home games. The club is his escape.
“We call it swing,” said Alex Naar, 42, a percussionist for the band who lent Montoyo a güiro and guided him through the more modern arrangements. “He has a natural swing for the music. He feels it in his heart. He has the rhythm.”
Not long after midnight, with a few songs left in the second set of his recent visit to Lula Lounge, Montoyo was done. He handed the güiro back to Naar, gave him a hug and said his goodbyes. He didn’t want to leave but the Blue Jays had a 1 p.m. game. He grabbed his jacket and left with the team employees who had come along. He will be back.
Charlie Montoyo is whole VIBE.
Source: The New York Times