Neftali Santiago (aka) Funkadrill 1969-2000
Neftali Felix Santiago was named after his father. The name Neftali means, "child set free."
Born in Spanish Harlem in New York City,  his father was Puerto Rican and his Mother is Afro American, Black Foot Indian, and Scottish mix better known as, “Mulatto”. Neftali senior was a Sargent in the army, so the family traveled a great deal.  The Santiago's lived in Germany for five years as well as Kentucky, Georgia, New Jersey, and New York in the states. Junior grew up beating on pots and pans until the age of fifteen when his brother bought him his first drum set.  Brother Chris came home one day with the drums and told Nefty Jr., “learn how to play these because my drummer quit the band and I need you to replace him for a party next week.” Neftali’s been hooked on drums and making music ever since.                                    

The Reeves (1969):
Ted Mac Amateur Hour (1969)
Neftali put his first band together. He named it "The Reeves after Superman. They were a 6 piece band 3 horns, bass, guitar, and drums. The band was managed by Dolores Santiago, Neftali's mom. They rehearsed at the Santiago's preparing for gigs around town and near by teen clubs. Dolores set up an audition with the TV show Ted Mac. For the ones who don't know who Ted Mac was he was the (OG) version of Ed Mc Mann of Star Search.

We had to drive from South Jersey to New York City to appear on the show. Our Van broke-down the first time and we had to reschedule.

The Chitin circuit 1969:
In the early 70's young Neftali backed soul acts such as: The Manhattans, Emotions, Intruders, Barbara Mason, The Delfonics, etc. The acts toured what was called the “Chitin circuit”. Neftali would back the acts when they came to Philadelphia, one band played for all the acts.

The Soul Sets:
Soul Review featuring a James Brown and Marvin Gaye impersonator.  Neftali would perform at night and go  to school in the daytime.

Mandrill Years
In 1973 Neftali was blessed to be apart of the 70s “Funk Revolution.” He recorded his first LP with "Mandrill"  early that year. The LP "Composite Truth” combined the magic between the Wilson brothers on horns, percussion, and vocals, Claud Coffee Cave on keys and vocals, Omar Mesa on lead guitar and vocals, Fudgie Kae Solomon on bass and vocals, and Neftali on drums and vocals, was a powerful force that packed stadiums across the world. Highlights of Mandrill's career spanned the globe  performing in New York with Duke Ellington with the Queen of England in attendance at Lincoln Center. Mandrill went back to Philharmonic Hall to perform with a 100 piece orchestra and a 200 voice choir, headlining Carnage Hall twice , Madison Square garden four times, Central Park twice for 1/2 a million people. In Philadelphia for a 1/2 a million people in Faremount Park, and headlining The Spectrum five times. In Washington DC Mandrill sold more tickets than The Rolling Stones at R.F.K. Stadium for 85 thousand fans, and headlining Constitution Hall three times. Mandrill went on to perform all over the world.

Neftali: There has never been another group out there that can even come close to all the musical places Mandrill goes in a set. It's an honor to be apart of the Mandrill team of players.

The band's Polydor years with this Composite Truth lineup of talent became the best of the best sellers to date of Mandrill LPs sold. The beat on "Fence walk" would become Neftali's signature piece. Harvey Mason jokes about stealing the Fence walk beat and using it on Herbie’s “Chameleon”. His brother Kenny played trumpet with Mandrill in 1978 and Harvey came out to the Roxy and joked around with Neftali about the beat.

Neftali has performed with or shared the stage with just about everyone (see bottom of this page). Mandrills variety and ability to perform all styles of music within their set, put them in a class by themselves (see Mandrill contained within this web sight.

US (1974)
The group, formally known as "The Ghetto Fighters" performed background vocals on Jimi Hendrix's lps Cry of Love, Rainbow Bridge, and War Heroes. Neftali performed on their Polydor single, Ostrich and their LP "Prana People." The twins are now known as the  Aleems, TAHARQA and TUNDE  RA  Aleem.

Santiago The Band

The first and only  single from Santiago, the band. It was released regionally in Philly and Washington, DC.

Santiago band toured with the Ohio Players and Gill Scott Heron. Joining Neftali was, Joe Byrne, Rocky and Eddie Duarte.

Feelin Good

Rocky, Joe, Neftali, Eddie

Neftali's Beast" (1980)

Land of the Drums

Barbra Marvin on "The Beast", Neftali on bass, and Damon Van Beuran on guitar.

Beast was an extension of the Santiago Band. The band actually broke-up before sighing with Capital. Neftali put family members signatures on the contract to sell the record.

Neftali on drums, keyboards, percussion, bass, animal machine, and vocals, Damon Van Buren guitar, and Erma Kaye - Vocals were the only musicians on tape.

The single was "Land Of The Drums". Land of the Drums was a unique blend of natural animal sounds put to rhythm, with a driving dance percussive beat. Neftali was the first to sample sounds before samplers were invented. Luis Marvin, a long time friend of Neftali's taught him how to take a melotron,  replace the string and flute sounds with animal sounds, and play the sounds in rhythm. The single sold allot records in Holland only.  The U.S. wasn't ready for the innovation.

Sound Barrier (1980) "Total Control" LP:
Sound Barrier was the first black heavy metal band to be signed to a major label. The label was MCA Records. Neftali produced a four-song demo on the band. The demo was a blend of funk, rock, and new wave but when they got to MCA the music was turned to heavy metal. The band asked Neftali to use a song he wrote titled: "Rock On The Wild Side". It was used for their first single and video. The album led to a major tour opening for the rock group Van Halen. Spacey T, the original guitar player for the band is now with "Fishbone."


Neftali composed music for commercials:

Pac Bell
Burger King
7-11, Big Bite
Sunkist soda television spot
Rogers Clothes

L.S.D. (1994):
The Acid Jazz Label contracted Neftali to perform on their entire stable of artists. The company folded before releasing four great CD's, sad but true.

Santa Fe Road (1996):

Marino, (vocalist/artist) put together an all star band for his first solo LP.
 Neftali Santiago-drums, angel Figuroa-percussion, Peewee Hill bass, Kris Kello keys-vocals, Conley Abrams-keyboards, Val McCallum, guitar, Charles Green-sax, Karen Briggs violin, Donna Simon, Valentino, & Kimberly Abrams-vocals.

Contemporary Christian Music
Neftali gave is life to Christ and dropped out of the mainstream music scene for over ten years.

The Greatest Gift Of All
In 1990 Neftali produced and composed an original musical called, “The Greatest Gift Of All” the life and death of Jesus Christ. He raised $30,000 over three years for a Youth Incentive Program in Watts and South Central LA.

To Russia With "Love School" (1992):
Neftali was told by Russian officials he was the first man of color to perform in Red Square. He performed  in front of thousands of Russians people and another million or so watching live Russian Television  It was their Russian independence day called "Victory day." The band was called "Love School", a World Beat Christian rock band. Neftali went on to tour Saint Petersburg, Vladimir, Kostrama, and Suzdail, with the tour mission ending back in Moscow. The mission was a success bringing 100's of people to the Lord.

Urbana (1990):
Urbana which happens once every three years, for the first time ever, featured a contemporary worship band called "Full Armour", which were comprised of an 11-member team. Twenty-thousand collage students from all over the world gathered together, for five nights, to attend this inspirational Missionary conference.

Full Armour  Unity (1992):
Unity  only released on a cassette format come from Full Armour.
Neftali produced, arranged, and wrote many of the songs. Unity, Servant of the Lord, Take Us Home. Jesus Christ Lord Of The Universe was entered into the world hymn book.

Juble (1995):
Worship and Praise CD released in Los Angels only. Neftali was blessed to become part of a church in Santa Monica CA called "The Hiding Place".  It was a non denominational church which focus on  modern day worship, Latin, Funk, Rock, Cal ipso, you name it.  The church released 5 worship CDs.

Debbie Vernon Harvest (1996) :

Worship and Praise CD released in Los Angels only. Debbie is a very gifted song writer of praise and worship music.
Neftali was asked to record drums on her CD.

Bridges (1993) Standing:
Lexicon recording artists released one LP distributed by Polygram records. The Hiding Place worship team was basically chosen to record this perfect blend of contemporary Christian music lead by Henry Catrona.

Grace Rohwer (1998) In the Shadow Of Your Wings:
Neftali produced and performed on Graces CD. The CD is a very humble and pure approach to worship and praise song writing. Grace uses her whole family to sing on her tracks including her two year old.

Coming in 2001


50% Of  All Proceeds will go to:

The Bioko Project For Drills
 Jason Lamone/ Santiago Productions
©1998 all rights reserved
A gathering of songs written and recorded by Funkadrill and never released from the 70s as well as newly recorded tracks.
This CD will feature members from:
The Black Birds
The Santiago Band
Neftali' Beast
Jethro Tull
Fish Bone

The Adventures Of:
 "Funkadrill Planet People Movement"
 Coming in 2002

"Trial Of The Seven Notes"
Neftali's biography mixed with fantasy
(book #1)

  Jason Lamone/ Santiago Productions ©1995 all rights reserved