Damn Right, We're Not Done Yet!

George Salazar's 2nd Time Around Band keeps it alive in Alhambra

By Frankie Firme~ Contributing Editor
Published on LatinoLA: March 12, 2012

Damn Right, We're Not Done Yet!

Live music performances in the right setting are one of the most enjoyable art appreciation experiences one can have, so long as the performing talent is not marred or distracted away by a bunch of sexy dancers, stage props, smoke and lights, idiotic female fans running up on stage during a performance, and "ringer" audiences that scream out on TV shows that help put on the false perception that greatness is occurring, know what I mean?

(makes you REALLY appreciate the American Idol auditions now, huh? )

I mean, I KNOW that crap excites and entertains kids at concerts and in music videos, keeps the chemically endowed music "geniuses" connected to reality and selling t-shirts, and also keeps many marketing executives, roadies, groupies, and overly tattooed wannabe's employed and connected to the music biz for lack of finding a real job, but a lot of Gente like me want to see REAL talent performing for our money when we step out, as we aren't looking for anything more than a good time and a night's entertainment before we have to return to the real world on Monday morning.

...sorry, most working people and friends I know think this way, and that's just the way it is.

Who the hell says we have to either slow down or accept what's available just because we age? Who says all the garbage you see on cable TV music shows is what is REALLY happening and we HAVE to accept it or be called "old" or "out of touch"?

Shit! We don't stop playing because we get old...we get old because we stop playing.

Write that one down and tape it to the 'fridge! I did that when I hit 50 just after my first heart attack, and it's still there...and I'm still here!

I get teased a lot by my kids and grandkids as I cruise ever so slowly (and so cool) towards 60, that I'm a "rock & roll dinosaur" and a "cool old dude that needs to take it slow & easy."

Screw that!...Whenever I hear that good old Chicano Rock & Roll, Soul, Blues, Latin Soul, or loving Oldies but Goodies music, it seems like it was just last week I was wondering what life would be like after high school and the end of the Viet Nam War, where all the pretty girls and parties were, and all the fun and lack of worries that went with that age and time era...

...and it makes me want to get my lady out on a dance floor to celebrate my survival of life, because a lot of homies from my generation are gone!

I KNOW I'm not the only one left who thinks like that, so I continue to cruise the boulevards and avenues of Aztlan enjoying the sights, sounds, music, food, dancing, friends, entertainment and good times of our people, and sharing it with you all here on LatinoLA.com.

So it was this past Friday, that I was fortunate enough to have a multitude of entertainment options, as many of my favorite music groups were in town and performing locally all around the Land of 1000 Dances in the City of Angels....

...and remember, I avoid most kiddie Hip-Hop, Rap, Gangster, and amphetamine inspired non-stop Disco joints as I would avoid an unemployed ugly woman looking for a baby daddy with a job and bank account.

My lady got her income tax check, bought some new clothes and dancing chanclas, one of my partners and his lady had a few bucks and the ganas to step out and do a road trip, I wanted to step out and breath some fresh L.A. air after strong winds blew away the smog, and hear some live music...so off we went to the Alhambra American Legion Hall, Post 139, where my friend George Salazar's 2nd TIME AROUND BAND was scheduled to perform for the evening.

The 2nd Time Around Band is comprised of pioneer East L.A. "East Side Sound" music veterans from the 1960's & 70's that include drummer George Salazar (original drummer and founding member of THEE MIDNITERS), bass guitarist Mike Rincon (BLENDELLS, BLUES STRAIGHT UP fame), singer Gilbert Stokes (EL CHICANO, APB fame), guitarist Ruben Arroyo (ATLANTICS), and Charlie Andrade (THEE MIDNITERS, AFTER DARK BAND) at keyboards. All these guys have also sat in as "hired guns" with other popular bands over the years as well, and are well respected..

Not your average assemblage of cool older dudes by any means!

The band is experienced, tight and talented, and once they get up on stage, they all become 20 again, jamming nicely and taking the audience on a nice mellow time machine ride back into "the day" that makes us good looking and hip grandparents want to get up and get our boogie on... I was THERE, man!

Some of those fine looking grand mamas could teach a kid a thing or two about boogying, believe me!

The management and folks at the American Legion Post 139 were welcoming and hospitable, the bartender was in a generous mood, they offered us free munchies, the Commander bought us a round or two, the crowd was good looking and older ( nobody under 45 please), they had a great anti-aging attitude going on, and everybody was looking to just kick back, party, and hear some good live music in a comfortable seting...so it was on!

(I think there was a kid around 40 at the bar, but he didn't act up...LOL!)

What Gilbert Stokes and the 2nd Time Around Band can do with such popular hits as Smokey Robinson's immortal "Ooh, Baby, Baby" and Chicago's unforgettable "Happy Man" are works of art, as Gilbert makes it his own, adds his own lyrics, "scats", and then goes bi-lingual in mid-song that brings loud "oohs", "ahhs" and appreciative screams from the ladies in house as he sings his heart and soul out for the audience.

While not planned, a small dance floor broke out, and I swear I could have seen some tears of pride and memory among some of the smiling Gente, as the band simply seduced everybody back into yesterday on the most comfortable of terms....I was THERE, man! THAT is the true power of art appreciation when the art is done right !

One of the highlights of the night came when a slow & steady drum beat began, Mike Rincon began to chant "We gonna do a little song for you now that will make you clap yo hands...kick yo feet....and as a matter of fact..it will tear you up!..." and I joined the crowd as we all roared " la, la, la, la, la!..", as the band joined in and performed the song that Mike Rincon's original band THE BLENDELLS made nationally famous back in 1964. You should have been there!

Not to be outdone, Gilbert Stokes got the same audience response as the band did "Land of 1000 Dances" and Gilbert got the whole place to join him in the "na, na, na, na, na"chorus. It was fun, and if there would have been enough room on the small dance floor, I would have been out there, so my lady & I just boogied at our seats.

Even the bartender was boogying her butt off at that song.

All through the night, the 2nd TIME AROUND Band was up and down the 60's, 70's, and early 80's music charts, playing some hot party dance & smooching tunes that most bands in the club circuit today just don't or won't do anymore. "That's just the way we planned it," George Salazar says with a wink and a smile."We play what other bands don't...and that makes us unique."

I had a chance to chat with George briefly between sets. As a friend of mine for several years, I complimented him on his choice of music genre and musicians. He just smiled like the cat that ate the canary saying, "That's the way it should be, man! Both band AND audience having a good time making themselves happy."

Born and raised in East L.A. and a 1965 graduate of Garfield High School, George began playing trumpet, guitar, and drums at an early age, playing with different bands as a child prodigy. When he was 12, he was invited to join an early version of the the Midniters (before they were THEE MIDNITERS) when the band was being run by the Cevallos brothers and included Lil' Ray Jiminez as lead singer.

In 1966 , at the height of the MIDNITER's popularity, he was drafted into the Army during the Viet Nam era, as was Mike Rincon of the BLENDELLS.

After the war, both men took a brief break from music but the call to come back was just too strong. Mike formed the popular BLUES STRAIGHT UP BAND, while George worked occasionally as a "hired gun" with other bands, and played with an early 70's version of TIERRA, then known as "1G + 3" before joining fellow former MIDNITER Benny Lopez and forming the MIDNITES MOON band, recording on the "New Moon Rising" CD. After awhile , George wanted to form his own band, getting back to "the good old stuff," he tells LatinoLA.

"When I first had the idea of forming my own band, I looked at and noticed the popularity of Oldies but Goodies and Rock & Roll music shows on the Internet, the large older crowds of people that attended dances, clubs, and concerts that offered this type of music genre to dance and party to, the majority of bands who don't pay attention to the Oldies audience anymore...and it was a no-brainer.

"I invited some of the best musicians I knew in East L.A. to go with me back to our roots, and we began jamming and rehearsing in my garage the way we did when the whole East Side Sound thing started back in the day. We had a lot of fun, and we had some creative moments that produced the sound you now hear. We've changed singers & musicians a few times, but I think I now have the core group that I was looking for.

My wife Lisa has also been a motivating force in pushing and supporting me throughout the process over the years. As a street survivor, Veteran, cancer survivor, family man, working man now retired, and music lover/performer, Lisa has supported me through it all, and we ain't done yet."

As the night came to a mellow end, with many of the crowd moaning that "it's still early", we said our goodbyes to the band as they came to the close of their last set.

I looked at the whole scene as I was leaving, and I could just imagine everybody as younger, with most of the men as young Marines, Sailors, Soldiers, and Airmen in uniform back in the day partying at the American Legion Hall to this very music with the ladies, many of them still looking pretty good as they danced tonight... and a pang of pride & power for us older folks hit me smack in the chest.

Thanks to guys like George Salazar and the 2nd Time Around Band, my generation just ain't done stepping out and living life yet!

Note: To contact the 2nd Time Around Band > (323) 395-3353...and tell 'em you got the number from Frankie Firme and LatinoLA.com !

About Frankie Firme~ Contributing Editor:
Frankie Firme is heard daily on Internet radio Station www.eastLArevue.com
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