Man! When one needs to step out and stretch the hamstrings on the dance floor, there isn't any better place to do that on earth but in the Land of 1000 Dances.
Coming off a killer road assignment for LatinoLA and East L.A. Revue last week, and still having a sore spot in my heart for the loss of Chicano music artist STEVE FALOMIR of TIERRA, whom I was lucky enough to befriend over the years, I thought I'd lay low and count my blessings....
Then I get word that one of my favorite bands in the City of Angels, BALANCE, is hitting the stage tonight at the Club Sash (AKA the GuestHouse) in Norwalk for the night, and I say to myself, "Now that's what I'm talking about!"
BALANCE has been around more than 25 years, rocking Aztlan with some of the finest Chicano Rock & Soul and hard brass anywhere in the land, rivaling only the legendary TOWER OF POWER and Santa Ana's BARELA Band for that "massive & complete Chicano soul" sound that can only be appreciated in a live performance.
Last month, after years of touring and packing dance floors up and down the Land of 1000 Dances, the band had to say goodbye and a final thanks to band leader and bass guitarist Fred "Moose" Sanchez, who passed away suddenly. The loss was devastating to the band.
Then, lead singer SAMMY MEDINA was rumored to have been hospitalized and underwent some serious surgery around the same time.
Like the upcoming retirement of the SANGRIA band due the deteriorating health of bandleader & manager Danny Rios, it seemed to me and a lot of Gente in the Land of 1000 Dances that BALANCE was slowly on the way out, and AZTLAN was losing another music legend to time....
Was I glad to learn that I WAS WRONG!
Hitting the Club Sash early to get a good seat, my Lady and I walked into a packed house of that good-looking, older L.A. crowd of Chicano music lovers & dancers that was abuzz before the band even set up.
BALANCE was in da' house!
You could feel the excitement and enthusiasm in the air as lead singer Sammy Medina told me, "I feel pretty good tonight..I'm ready to rock!" as he viewed the standing room only crowd with a big smile just before showtime.
When BALANCE hit the stage for their opening number, the dance floor filled up immediately and it stood that way for the rest of the night, proving that good music is truly a fountain of youth that nourishes the soul.
Getting up on stage, singing and dancing his heart out, Sammy looks as young and vibrant as the day I first met him over 30 years ago.
Compared by many as the Chicano Rick James with a taste of James Brown & Tower of Power in the mix, Sammy & BALANCE were tight tonight, and sounding right!
With a powerful 4 piece brass section backed with a talented group of musicians & backup singers, BALANCE was in "da zone" , and I got the sore feet to prove it the morning after!
The large, standing room only well dressed crowd were in the right place tonight, and we all knew it.
Besides busting out with some hard core funk & soul, along with a couple of favorite cumbias to set the party tone of the night, Sammy also crooned his way into every lady's heart with soul touching versions of "You're Still a Young Man" and "I Wanna Know Your Name," drawing adoring screams of approvals from the ladies in the house as he came off stage and worked the crowd like the seasoned pro entertainer that he is.
By the end of the 2nd set just before midnight, the standing room only crowd was so thick and enthusiastic that I had to make a move to hit the road back home just to let the sweat dry and to sober up a bit for the long drive...one must remember his age after all, LOL!
As we walked out of the crowded Club Sash, all the buzz was about " Sammy Medina and BALANCE ain't going nowhere ! They're home!"...and I'm sure the closing set was a killer !