Spontaneous tunes draw attention

Kyle Calbreath, Kyle Calbreath, and Kyle Calbreath

Mingling with the scraping of skateboards and the gentle gossip of jovial students, the harmonious tunes of a guitar provide an acoustic backdrop for students sauntering between classes.

Producing these musical sounds is City College student Felipe Castaneda. Castaneda draws in small crowds of listeners with his reinventions of tunes from all genres of music, including classic rock, flamenco, jazz and blues.

Castaneda’s love for music strikes him at random times, between classes and often just because he plays for the passion.

“I just love the sound of music,” he said. “I always did air guitar.”

Castaneda can be found near the fountain on West Campus or hanging out on the grass of Calden Overlook, accompanied by close friends and his acoustic guitar. “If it doesn’t touch me I don’t want to play it,” Castaneda said. “It’s about the music.”

Becoming interested in guitar at the young age of 14, Castaneda was inspired by what he heard on the radio. Listening to his favorite musicians such as Rush, The Police, Chick Corea, Eric Clapton and Vinnie Moore.

Castaneda used to play music around the house, putting on performances for his encouraging parents and family.

“He was a good influence and performer,” said his father Audusto Castaneda. “I hope he will continue with music as a career.”

In his younger years, Castaneda gained further inspiration from personal friends Eric Smith, who he nicknamed his “teacher,” and Bruno Panunzio, who was referred to as his “mentor.”

Both friends showed him the basics of music and Smith gave him his first guitar. Castaneda has turned aspirations into reality by taking the advice from loved ones and running with his dream of becoming a musician.

Castaneda plays in one of his bands with two other City College students. The band performs covers of artists including The Police, ZZ Top and Led Zeppelin.

The other band, a Spanish metal group called the Pancho Pistolas, has played in venues from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Singing back-up and playing electric for the Pancho Pistolas, Castaneda also helps in writing their original songs.

Come Dec. 16, Castaneda will be performing with the Pancho Pistolas at the Ventura Theatre.

Attending his first year at City College, Castaneda is taking a vocal techniques class in addition to working toward a degree in business.

As an alternative to playing professionally, he wouldn’t mind being a teacher, enriching the minds of any grade level of student through music, Castaneda said.

“Music is what I want to do with the rest of my life,” he said.