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A Night of Cultura in the Land of 1000 Dances

SOTO headlines the 17th Annual Radio Aztlan Music Festival at UC Rriverside

By Frankie Firme, Contributing Editor
Published on LatinoLA: April 23, 2013


A Night of Cultura in the Land of 1000 Dances


?ŪOrale MI GENTE ! You should have been there!

This year's Radio Aztlan Music Festival at the University of California, Riverside, held this past Saturday, was one of the best in many years.

Put on by the Chicano Studies Program of UCR, headed by Estella Acu??a
(aka radio personality "La Snoopy") and the KUCR 88.9 FM Radio Aztlan DJ's , sponsored in part by the East L.A. Revue Internet Radio Station, this year's lineup of talento de Aztlan was definitely one to remember, as the 17th Annual Radio Aztlan Music Festival was well attended and enjoyed by a large crowd.

Opening up the show was one of the hottest club bands currently lighting up the L.A. "Burrito Circuit" and the pride of San Dimas, California, The IMPULSE BAND. Three gorgeous dancing Chicana singers, with one hittin' timbales, and a fine veteran band behind them, IMPULSE opened the show with class & pizzazz, giving the audience a good dose of funk, R&B, and Latin Soul that got some folks dancing in the aisles.

Coming up next, MC MAGIC brought a little bit of Mexicano low-riding rap for the many youngsters in the crowd, making a little noise in the house and warming folks up.

The CONJUNTO LOS POCHOS came up next, kicking out some fine Tex-Mex and Ranchera Polkas that brought out claps & gritos from the many Tejano music lovers in the crowd. One of the honored guests in the audience was Jimmy Hernandez, brother of the famed FAMILIA & LATINAIRRES Hernandez Brothers -- Johnny, Little Joe, & Rocky -- and he and his Lady appeared to be enjoying the music immensely.

‘«™LOS POCHOS got some attention, let me tell you !

After a brief intermission, at which time folks were invited to try some delicious tacos, and visit the East L.A. Revue Radio booth where they could pick up music CD's and meet and greet Radio DJ's CHICO MANQUEROS, SUGARBEAR, FRANKIE FIRME, EL SAPO, EL BETOMAN, TOM MORIN, station owner STEVEN CHAVEZ and Radio Aztlan DJ's & radio personalities THEE ANGEL BABY, La SNOOPY , and TRIPP ‘«™then it was back to the music.

Like a mellow trip back in time, THE HEARTBREAKERS cruised up on stage, lookin' so fine, and dressed to the "nines," showing the youngsters what true performing stage class looks like. Backed up by a veteran band of talented Chicano musicians and singing some classic R&B with Rock & Roll tunes, the HEARTBREAKERS drew thundering loud applause from the audience as they closed their set with their immortal 1964 classic hit "Cradle Rock" that had many in the audience singing along, yours truly included.

Afterwards, Radio Aztlan DJ's TRIPP and THEE ANGEL BABY were given appreciation awards for their many years of promoting Chicano music, education, and culture on Radio Aztlan 88.3 FM & www.KUCR.org every Friday night, and supporting the Chicano Studies Program UC Riverside is well known for.

Then, it was back to the music, as the Grammy Award winning 15-member MARIACHI DIVAS took the stage‘«™and the night took an electric charge upwards after that.

15 ladies‘«™all beautiful, smiling, dancing in step, joking, playing their instruments expertly, and singing their hearts out, while accompanied by two expert couples of authentic early Mexican folklorico dancers, the MARIACHI DIVAS put on a perfect performance that brought out cultural appreciation and gritos among everyone in attendance.

By far one of the best Mariachi groups I've seen in many years, and I've seen A LOT, the MARIACHI DIVAS made more than a few fans that night, and their closing number "Abrir los ojos y mirar para arriba" drew a standing ovation that put a lump of pride in my throat for my people‘«™and I became a fan of theirs !

‘«™THAT says a lot for a guy who's not a BIG fan of Mariachi music!

(Sorry, Dad).

Then came the closers of this magnificent show, the ever-powerful and electrifying Brown Brothers of Chicano Soul, SOTO!

Probably one of the most in demand and finest Chicano-Brown Sound Rock/Funk/Soul/R&B/TOP 40 dance music cover bands on the West Coast who have traveled to different parts of the World to entertain U.S. troops, the Soto Brothers, Bruce & Artie, accompanied by Joey Guerra on keyboards, Danny Santillan on drums, smooth & sensual lead vocals by Dax Reynoso and Andrea Guerrero, then hard hitting percussion and butt kicking vocals by Phillip Ruiz, SOTO put on a tremendous showing of energy, talent, versatility, and Chicano Soul, while appearing almost effortless, as they seemed to have as much fun as the audience that happily succumbed to their dynamic rhythm and rock, as they danced & sang on stage to everyone's delight.

...and Andrea Guerrero simply melted hearts with her sensual rendition of Chakka Khan's timeless tune "Sweet Thing" that got her a screaming applause....Oooh! You HAD to have been there to feel the energy !

Like I always say at the end of every radio show, "Like all good songs, and all good rides‘«™this show has come to an end." Ahhh‘«™and sadly for me‘«™this great show came to an end a little after midnight .

As the crowd milled about meeting and greeting some of the performers in the lobby, picking up CD's and getting autographs, I could see Estella Acu??a and her crew standing back beaming like proud parents as they surveyed the crowd‘«™ and another great Radio Aztlan Music Festival came to a happy ending ‘«™

‘«™see you next year, Estella & Company!

About Frankie Firme, Contributing Editor:
Frankie Firme is the Al Capone of the microphone, the Hitman of West Coast Chicano Soul, and the Voice of Aztlan heard daily on www.eastLArevue.com
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