Antonio (Tony) Gómez first arrived in the South Sound as a student at the University of Puget Sound — a Bay Area kid on a new adventure. “I had never visited and didn’t know a soul. I missed the sun,” he said. Since then he’s gone back and forth between Oakland and Tacoma as a teacher and a musician. These days, he creates and oversees educational programs at Broadway Center, including the beautiful Mexican Ballet Folklorico dance program and the World Drumming program for youth in East Tacoma. Contributing to the arts in gritty cities is his passion. “I’m drawn to the underdog sister-cities: Tacoma is to Seattle what Oakland is to San Francisco. I feel at home in the mix of working folk and duality of industrial grit and natural beauty.” Here’s what else he loves. — Lauren Foster
Walking along the Tacoma waterfront
Thekoi Sushi or the taco truck near Lincoln High School
Red Elm Cafe
To Grab a Drink
Wherever my friends gather. I have no sense of “cool.”
Catfish and grits at Southern Kitchen — a rare treat!
I enjoy geeking out on superhero series with my kids (Agents of Shield, Supergirl, etc.)
It’s a draw between The Mission, Black Orpheus, and The Motorcycle Diaries
Jorge Drexler, Souad Massi, Caetano Veloso, Julieta Venegas, Jordi Savall, Macaco
Alternative Latin music podcast from NPR: Alt.Latino
The House of Wisdom by Jim Al-Khalili
Favorite Children’s Book
A Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. (I’m a former kindergarten teacher; I had to put this!)
Place to travel
For Old World places, Southern Spain and Morocco. For New world places, Azuero Peninsula, Panamá
What’s the last thing you googled?
Chicken, spinach, pepitas — I’m making dinner!
Instruments you play
Congas, bongó, cajón, darbuka, frame drums, udu, tammorra (the large Italian tambourine pictured at left), various rattles and noisemakers
Did you have a musical upbringing?
Neither of my parents play instruments, but I grew up surrounded by music. In fourth grade, our landlords wouldn’t let me practice in our flat, so I went to a park bench.
What is one of your fondest musical memories?
Studying rumba with three generations of Cuban drummers in the small city of Cárdenas.
What’s your goal as a music/performing arts educator?
My hope is to help students realize connections across cultures and communities — to see the many ways our stories overlap — and to find incredible creativity and resilience within themselves. Access to arts education is not a perk; it’s a social justice issue because it has the power to spark the entire learner.
With the influence of technology on entertainment, do you worry about the future of live theater and music?
As long as people like to gather, live arts are necessary. What is more challenging is sustaining the arts in an individualized, on-demand era of consumption. It’s easy to default to our phones and home theaters, but we miss out on the greatest element of art — the intimate exchange between artist and audience.