Grammy Award-winning Latin percussionist Poncho Sanchez remembers when he first played in Salt Lake City.
It was in 1975. Sanchez had joined Cal Tjader's band, and Salt Lake City was the farthest Sanchez had been from his home in Los Angeles.
"I was 24 years old, and we played at the Hotel Utah," said Sanchez from his home in Whittier, Calif. "I was a kid right out of the barrio. I was green and didn't know what was going on."
Sanchez was gung-ho about the gig and said once it wrapped, he was going to get some brewed liquid refreshments.
"The other guys in the band told me that there were certain parts in the area that didn't serve beer," Sanchez said with a laugh. "I had totally forgotten about the Mormon thing, and here I was staying across the street from the temple. Yeah. Wake up, knucklehead."
So after the early gig, Sanchez and the boys found a bar, albeit eight blocks away.
"It was cold," he said. "I mean, being from Southern California, Salt Lake weather was cold.
"But waking up the next day, my window looked over the temple grounds, and it was so beautiful, organized and clean. It was so nice."
Since then, Sanchez has returned to Utah, not for the brew, but to play for the music fans.
"I must have been back to Salt Lake 20 or 25 times," he said. "We played a lot of festivals and the (now defunct) Zephyr Club," he said. "It's always been fun to go to Salt Lake.
"When we get there, we're going to have a good time."
Sanchez said since the release of his 24th album, titled "Psychedelic Blues," he has enough material to mix things up.
"I like to reach back and get the older Latin jazz stuff," he said. "And then I like to mix in some hot salsa and Latin soul.
"And then do the stuff from the brand-new record. That way, everybody's happy."
"Psychedelic Blues" not only features a couple of Sanchez's original tunes, it also features covers, such as Herbie Hancock's "Cantaloupe Island" and Freddie Hubbard's "Crisis."
There's also a Willie Bobo medley that includes pieces of "Baby I Don't Know," "Fried Neckbones," "Home Fries" and "Spanish Grease."
"In the past years, we always played around with 'Fried Neckbones' and 'Spanish Grease,' " Sanchez said. "And one day, I said to the band that we should just do a medley."
Sanchez also knows the band needs to slow things down at times.
"We play some old classics and a balato, a ballad, and slow it down because we're not madmen all the time, and then we'll bring it up again and end with a hot salsa."
Sanchez said, at 58, he is pleased with where he is in his career with his band.
"The band hit," he said. "When we play, the people know there's a band playing. And that's how I like it. We're coming to Salt Lake to play, not to play around."
If you go...
What: Poncho Sanchez and the Latin Jazz Band
Where: Sheraton City Center, 150 W. 500 South
When: May 3, 7:30 p.m.
How much: $25