If you’ve been to a local festival or coffeehouse in the past 15 years, you’ve probably heard TresAmigos+, a band with a slightly jazzy, mostly acoustic, distinctly Latin sound.
Formed in 2000 when three neighbors got together to play at a Cinco de Mayo party in Columbia’s Town Center, the band is still playing the same bossa nova rhythms at the same local venues.
“We’re just local guys that play music for fun and have families now,” says lead singer and guitarist Carlos Cysneiros, the sole remaining original member. “We never had strong ambitions to become real popular or successful. We play music because we love to play music, and that means we can play the type of music we love.”
Cysneiros, 46, was born in Brazil and took up the guitar at age 12. In 1989, he moved to this country to go to college, and he moved to Columbia in 2000 after earning a master’s degree in software engineering at the University of Maryland. There, he met neighbors and fellow guitar players Tomas Dgron and Gordon Knox, and TresAmigos was born.
The band’s sound grew out of Cysneiros’ South American roots, but it matched his new friends’ musical passion. “Tomas knew about Latin music, but Gordon was more rock,” Cysneiros recalls. “We kind of bossafied him.” Bossa nova — “bossa” for short — is the type of Brazilian pop music TresAmigos+ plays. The band members write many of their own songs, but they also play covers during shows.
The band’s size and makeup has shifted over the years (hence the name change a few years ago to “TresAmigos+”), but currently there are four members: Cysneiros, who still lives in Columbia and has a wife and two children; guitarist Brian Aylaian, a civil engineer who also lives in Columbia; drummer Matthew Aylaian, Brian’s 17-year-old son and a junior at Centennial High; and bassist Kevin “Esco” Gardner, of Silver Spring.
While never a band that aimed for superstardom, TresAmigos+ has a strong local following and its own modest ambitions. Cysneiros hopes to record a CD this year — the band’s first — and eventually to get more solid gigs in bigger venues.
But for now, with demanding day jobs and growing children, the members of TresAmigos+ are sticking to what’s worked for 15 years: six or eight gigs a year at coffeehouses and festivals in and around Columbia.
“Our goal is just to continue to play,” says Aylaian, 49, who has three children. “To maintain a good schedule, not too rigorous, and continue to serve the area.
“… If we could become the go-to band for Latin music that’d be great. … But this is just for fun.”