Samuel López has been active in the local salsa scene since the late 1990s. Born in Puerto Rico, Samuel moved to Texas and began learning how to play latin percussion from the teachings of family and friends. As a teenager, he began playing in various Salsa and Merengue groups in the Killeen-Austin-San Antonio area. Soon after, he became a charter musician for the Puerto Rican Folkloric Dance Group in Austin, Texas. During his time with PRFDance, he worked and learned from Puerto Rican folkloric masters Don Modesto Cepeda, Los Pleneros De La 21, Grupo Paracumbe, William Cepeda, Grupo Guateque, and Gíbaro de Puerto Rico.
In 2005, Samuel began his studies in Music Education at Texas State University-San Marcos, where he became the official timbale player for the award winning Salsa Del Rio Band at Texas State University. In 2007 he participated in the recording of the album Lloraras with Salsa Del Rio, album that won the Downbeat Magazine Award for “Best Recording of the Year” in the Blues, Pop and Rock category. It was also during his years with Salsa del Rio that the group was awarded the “Best Salsa Band of the Year” three times in a row at the Premios a la Musica Latina ceremony hosted by Univision TV in San Antonio. In addition, he performed with Salsa Del Rio at the 2007 Montreaux Jazz Festival and the 2008 Notre Dame Jazz Festival. In 2009 Mr. Lopez graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Music Studies and in 2011, earned a Master of Music in Latin Music Performance from Texas State University.
Mr. Lopez has had the honor of studying congas under the late great David “La Mole” Ortiz, and has performed with Larry Harlow, Luisito Carrión, Brian Lynch, Hector Tricoche, Memo Acevedo, Pete Rodriguez Jr., Nilsa “Cita” Rodriguez, Victoria Sanabria, Georgie Padilla, and Paquito Guzman, amongst others.
In 2009, Samuel recorded and provided comments for ethnomusicologist Robin Moore’s book Music in the Hispanic Caribbean, published by Oxford University Press, and in the spring of 2012 was the interim Director of the Caribbean Ensemble at the University of Texas.
Mr. Lopez is a member of Austin’s Cienfuegos and La Moña Loca for which he has written and arranged music. He also plays congas and arranges for Orquesta Trabuko and performs with different groups in the Austin area. He is a member of the Percussive Arts Society and is endorsed by Toca percussion.
Samuel has a passion for the music of his native Puerto Rico, especially bomba and plena. Besides having the opportunity to learn and perform with some of the top performers and legends in these genres, he has done research in bomba and plena and continues to humbly study the traditions and performance techniques of both styles.