Straight outta the streets of San Francisco, the Bernal Beat was born out of Mission neighborhood block parties with flavors steeped in the musical melting pot of the Bay Area.
Bernal Beat’s distinct Latin grooves draw you in with undeniable funky hooks. And it’s no wonder—collectively, José Najera and his band have an unparalleled musical pedigree that spans the essential Bay Area music scenes over the past 50 years. Rooted in classic Latin grooves, you’ll hear the band’s Jazz, Funk, Rock, Blues, Soul, Reggae, Hip Hop, Psychedelic, African, and Zydeco experiences emerging at various times during a performance.
José has played with luminaries like Pete Escovedo, Etta James, Billy Cobham, Narada Michael Walden, Chaka Khan, Elvin Bishop, Merl Saunders, and many others. The band members also have equally impressive credentials, playing with Sly & the Family Stone, Graham Central Station, and even a performance at Woodstock. But the real magic is in the band chemistry and compelling live performances.
Bandleader José Najera’s story reflects the quintessential Mexican-American heritage, growing up post-WWII in a musical New Mexico family. After serving in Vietnam with the Navy, he started out as a roadie for the legendary band Azteca, earning eventually a spot in the band playing percussion and touring for 5 years. From there, his career took off in many directions, working with Bay Area-based Jazz, Latin, Blues, and Rock bands. For Bernal Beat, José handles lead vocals, and plays congas, sax, and a plethora of percussion instruments.
Guitarist and vocalist Gail Muldrow, a native San Franciscan, is an Electric Funk and Blues force of nature. By age 20, she was recording with Sly Stone, and by the late 70s with Graham Central Station.
Dr. Loco has, in fact, a real Ph.D.! José B. Cuéllar, Ph.D., is an authority in U.S.-Mexican multicultural anthropology, teaching at local colleges. Not to mention, he’s a badass sax player. A longtime friend of the Najera family, Dr. Loco plays sax and sings for the band.
José’s son, Eloy Najera, is the youngster of the group. Playing keyboards and contributing some Hispanic Hip Hop to the mix, Eloy keeps the music fresh for the younger crowds. When he’s not playing music, Eloy works with the local Bay Area production crews for major touring acts.
A notable semiregular band member is famed guitarist Harvey “The Snake” Mandel. Harvey made his first splash as the guitarist in Canned Heat, playing Woodstock in 1969. He’s recorded with the Rolling Stones and gained tremendous acclaim as a Psychedelic Blues guitarist extraordinaire.
Rounding out the band are a cast of longtime friends and collaborators: Daniel Dawkins on bass has a been a family friend for 40 years. Ronnie Mesina is on timbales, congas, and percussion; José has known him since he was 17. Joe Lopez is the alto sax player. John Molloy on trap drums is not only the keeper of the Bernal Beat, but also the smilingest member of the band. Longtime friend Jimmy Bratt is on guitar and vocals.