ROXBURY, NJ – In a way, drums brought Emmy Award winning percussionist Emedin Rivera to Roxbury 28 years ago.
He was living in a Bronx, N.Y. apartment at the time, a place that didn’t have enough room for all his percussion equipment. Rivera, known for playing drums, congas and other instruments simultaneously, has a lot of equipment.
“One day, the landlord came up and started to complain,” said Rivera. “We used to travel with our gear; big cases with drums. He complained I had too many cases in the hallway.”
There was no way Rivera was going to get rid of his equipment. Percussion instruments had been his passion since he was eight years old and his parents bought him some toy maracas and bongos.
So, it was time to tell that landlord to shove it.
“It prompted us to say, ‘Let’s buy a house,’” Rivera recalled. “My wife and I got in the car, drove hour out on Route 80 and got off at Exit 30.”
That landed the Riveras in Landing, where they came across a guy raking his lawn. It seemed like a nice place to live, so Rivera asked the man if he knew any real estate agents.
“He said his wife was a Realtor and the next thing you know we bought a house here,” Rivera said. “I didn’t know anybody here in Landing.”
Roxbury Roots and a New CD
Although he travels the world as a musician, Rivera has no plans to move to Nashville, Austin, Los Angeles or any of the other music hot-spots he continually visits for gigs. Rivera - whose wife drives a school bus for Roxbury and whose son owns Empower Nutrition in Kenvil - is happy to call Roxbury his home.
It’s a home that has plenty of room for his drumming stuff, including a recording studio. Although he’s aware that compact discs have been largely replaced by MP3s and streaming music, Rivera recently recorded his first CD.
“Every musician needs to have his own CD out if he does this for a living,” Rivera said. “This hasn’t been a part-time job for me. It’s what I do. I take it serous. I’ve played on all these different albums, but you’ve gotta leave a little something of yourself so that, when you’re gone, you leave something behind.”
He plans to have a CD release party soon, something that might be better billed as a CD relief party.
“I never realized how much work it takes to put out a CD and how much money it costs,” he said. “I always worked for other people and I never realized the work that goes into putting out a CD. I had to hire engineers and musicians. I don’t think people realize how hard it is to put a record out.”
Rivera’s in the music business so he's aware there’s not exactly a big market anymore for CDs. One clue came recently: “We bought a car three weeks ago,” Rivera said. “I was looking for the CD player in the car and I couldn't’t find it. They don’t make them with CD players anymore.”
But CDs have better sound than MP3s and more permanence. Some people still like having a product in their hands, not just their hard drives. So Rivera, who describes the music on the CD as “Latin jazz world music,” figures he will sell the disc at concerts or directly to those who call 973-692-7117 or write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.