Getting Primal with Maceo Hernandez and East LA Taiko

Maceo Hernandez began playing Taiko when he was in the 7th grade after he witnessed a local taiko group perform at a friends wedding. His Taiko training began at Montebello Sozenji Bhuddist Temple and soon Maceo found himself a member of Japan’s world renowned Taiko group Ondekoza becoming one of the youngest and first Latino professional Taiko players in the World.


Maceo Hernandez is the leader of East L.A Taiko, and also a founding member of Grammy award winning Quetzal, a Chicano Rock Band famous for their mix of Mexican and Afro-Cuban, jazz, rhythm and blues, and rock music. Having performed with Jane’s addiction, provided drumming for the sound track movie Battleship, just to name a few examples, Maceo has led an impressive musical career topped with performances at Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl and tours throughout North America, Asia, and Europe.


Maceo, now 44 who was born in San Francisco moved to East Los Angeles when he was 5 years old, has performed countless performances in the downtown area, from Grand Performances, Olvera Street, the Music Center to the LA Art Walk. “We just finished performing these pass two weeks in Little Tokyo and are planning to perform again next month during Little Tokyo’s Nisei week activities. date and time coming soon.” says Maceo.

When asked what he loves most about Downtown, Maceo said, “I love all the wonderful performances and activities that Grand Park puts on. Its such a great feeling to spend New Year’s Eve with Angeleno’s and come together to mourn the loss of such musicians like Prince. It’s becoming a magical spot for us all here in Los Angeles.”

Maceo comes across as a talented openhearted musician, who wouldn’t mind sticking around to witness the end of homelessness in DTLA. When asked about what changes he would make, he stated,

“I would love to see us all help with the homeless in downtown. There are so many people that just need a little help getting back on their feet. There are children, war veterans, and folks that just had it too tuff that we can help out. We should stop saying “the Homeless Problem”, and use the term “the Homeless Solution”, we are a great city that can find a way…I respect us all. There is no other place like LA, so many wonderful kinds of people sharing their cultures.”

At the moment East LA Taiko is in the studio recording with local Chicana rock star Lysa Flores.

Flores, a first generation Mexican-American, who has been a pioneer in the “East Los” alternative scene, named by Newsweek as one of “20 young Latinos to watch in the new millennium”.

Maceo also has a strong message for the youth saying, “Don’t be afraid to try something new. I was a 14-year-old kid from East LA that feel in love with the Japanese drum. That love for Taiko has taken me all over this planet.”

Help to support your local taiko groups. Los Angeles as so many groups, you see them all the time at festivals, LA marathon, Lakers and Dodger games, charity events, etc. They are here providing the back BEATS to DTLA.

Taiko are a broad range of Japanese percussion instruments with mythological origins in Japanese folklore. Their function has varied through history, ranging from communication, military action, theatrical accompaniment, and religious ceremony to both festival and concert performances. Archaeological evidence suggest taiko were present in Japan during the 6th century in the Kofun period.


Yup, you guessed it. It's me Keri Freeman, publisher and concept designer for Downtown Weekly. Living, working and playing in Downtown coming from an entertainment background...I discovered something about myself. I discovered I really liked sharing my knowledge of DTLA and its awesome hospitality movement. Also in doing so I have the great pleasure of working with incredible sponsors (who believe in the vision), extraordinary literary artists, photographers, event coordinators and many talented artists and musicians who inspire me every day to keep the DTLA Weekly going. Also, it would seem I'm the only woman of color to publish a newspaper here in over 100 years, so hopefully that inspires some future generations as well....Just remember if its can't be work....Thank you, people of Gaia, for your continued support and thank you for reading!