Originally from the Dominican Republic, Aquiles Montas
moved to Portland in 1978, bringing with him a deep and abiding passion for Latin music. His foray into performing began while performing salsa and merengue at private parties and quickly developed after founding the Hispanic Student Union at Portland State University. In 1984, Aquiles started his first Latin band, Ritmo Tropical
with his good friend Pedro Beltran. The band quickly formed a reputation for itself, performing at various private functions and summer concerts throughout the Northwest.
Three years and two successful recordings later, Aquiles decided to form his own group, Conjunto Alegré
. The original band consisted of two fantastic vocalists: Manuela Figueroa and Roberto Cruz, and his best friend Amador Marcano on congas. Since then, Conjunto Alegre has performed in countless summer concerts throughout Oregon and Washington, including the prestigious Mt. Hood Festival of Jazz
as well as Salem Arts Festival, Eugene Celebration, Portland Mayor's Ball, Rose Festival, the Bite of Portland, Cinco de Mayo, Salsa en la Calle, Seattle Folk Life Festival
, and many others. Conjunto Alegre has also been the opening act for a number of major international Latin stars including Tito Puente, El Canario, Los Vandvan, Grupo Niche, Oscar De Leon, Eddie Santiago
and many more.
In 1990, Aquiles became the first promoter to bring authentic Latin salsa bands to the Northwest, and is widely considered to be Portland's Godfather of Latin Music
. His love for music shows through the high energy he brings to each peformance. His ability to play multiple instruments, dance, direct his band, and engage with his audience helps to create an authentic Caribbean musical experience that has made him a crowd favorite.
Aquiles has nearly 30 years of experience as a percussionist, playing tambora, bongos, congas, timbales, and all Latin hand instruments, including the cowbell, maracas and guiro.