Masud Tahmassbi: Guitarist at El Gaucho Portland

If music be the food of love, play on. ~William Shakespeare

Ambiance is a key part of the El Gaucho experience, and music plays an important role in setting the stage at our restaurants, which is why we are proud to offer live music, 7 nights a week. We introduce you to the talented and passionate musicians who share their gift with us.

One would think with Masud’s incredible talent, good looks, and warm personality, he’d be center stage in the Portland – if not a broader – music scene, but he actually prefers otherwise. With the addition of his daughter, Mia Rose, born just 7 months ago, Masud’s family takes center stage. “I’m blessed I can come in to work, and go home. I get a steady paycheck – I can take care of my family. That trumps any financial gain,” Masud Tahmassbi explains.

Music has always been a big part of Masud’s life. Growing up in Lima, Peru, his mother, Connie Bieberach, is a well-known singer, performing on TV. His uncle, Alfredo Muro, is a Latin Grammy nominated guitarist, who perfomed with his sister, Masud’s mother, frequently. “They’re like the Carpenters of Latin America,” he explains. “While my mom is very talented and well-known, she put her children ahead of her career,” he said.

Part of his mother’s decision was moving her family from Peru to the United States when Masud was 13 years old. In the 80s, Peru was politically unstable and it “wasn’t the best place to raise a family,” he explains. They initially spent 18 months in San Francisco, but longed for a more suburban area to call home. Friends who lived in the area encouraged them to try Portland, and Lake Oswego has been home since.

Growing up in such a musical family, Masud’s talent is no surprise. After high school, he studied music theory for a year and played in rock ‘n roll bands. “I wanted to let loose,” he laughed. It was then he met his friend and band-mate, Mario Diez. They both found their way to auditioning at El Gaucho Portland.

“Mario knew a music store owner, who knew Paul Mackay. Paul was about to open El Gaucho and wanted live music, so we tried out. We heard he wanted Latin music, and while I speak Spanish fluently, we didn’t know any Latin songs,” Masud divulged. “We ended up playing the same song for 15 minutes for our audition – ‘Sabor a Mi’, a “bolero,” or traditional love song. Evidently it sounded legit enough and we got the gig,” he laughs.

Mario and Masud had a month before El Gaucho opened, and they set to work learning as many Latin tunes as they could to, “get our ducks in a row.” They were the only musicians at first and played 7 nights a week. While more musicians were eventually brought on, Masud longed for a break. He took a year off, went back to school and studied civil engineering. During that time he was also in a horrible snowboarding accident, breaking both of his legs, which bound him in a wheelchair with two hard casts. It was then that El Gaucho Portland called back and made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. That was 2009, and since civil engineering jobs were scarce, he came back to playing music, this time, three nights a week (which is his current schedule); two of those nights he plays with his step-father, Mariano de Orbegoso.

When asked what it’s like working with family, Masud exclaims, “…it’s the best! We know each other so well and that familiarity is beneficial to how we play together. It can also be tricky – family squabbles more bitterly than with colleagues, because we are close. But it’s fun.”

Masud and Mariano have collaborated on one CD, titled “Quiet Nights.” Masud has hundreds of songs that he hasn’t consolidated, but says he’s not ready to start that journey. “I like being under the radar,” he says. “I’m happy in my little nook.”

His little nook, of course, being his family – wife Melissa, of six years, his daughter, Mia; Masud’s “greatest accomplishments.” In his spare time, Masud also plays soccer – he’s in two local leagues and has won three titles.

It doesn’t take long to understand that Masud relishes his life. In addition to playing guitar, he also plays drums, keyboards, and bass. He performs at private parties locally.

“I am so grateful to Paul Mackay for giving me this opportunity, and the value he places on music as part of the ambiance here,” Masud conveys. “He had a specific vision for El Gaucho Portland and he wanted to create the best ambiance possible for our patrons. I think he achieved that with flying colors and I’m satisfied that I’ve been a small part of that story,” he explains. “I love continuing to work here because of the relationships and friendships I’ve made.”

You can listen to Masud three nights a week at El Gaucho Portland: Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday starting at 6pm.


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