A&E  

Three Memorable Nights in The Land of 1000 Dances

Thee Midniters' 50th Anniversary concert draws people in from all over California for three nights of music & memories

By Frankie Firme, Contributing Editor
Published on LatinoLA: November 23, 2015


Three Memorable Nights in The Land of 1000 Dances


If there was a word that could ever combine "Wow", "Orale" and "Oh! How cool was that?" into one word, that would be the word of the day to describe the recent successful three day Chicano-Latino music marathon produced by band leader Ray Carrion, hosted by Internet TV star Thee Mr. Duran, and DJ'd by yours truly, billed as "Thee Midniters 50th Year Anniversary" this past weekend at the City of Industry VFW Hall on Friday & Saturday, then at A MI HACIENDA Restaurant in Pico Rivera on Sunday.

50 being nothing but a number, on this weekend EVERYBODY was young & good looking again, as Thee Midniters , Ray Carrion's L.A. Latin Legend All Stars, comedians Rudy Moreno & Jay Lamont, and the music from "Back in the day" brought it on to 3 consecutive sold out audiences for a party that connected and re-connected so many people with the music that has defined over 5 generations of West Coast Latinos starting in 1964. (I even ran into a Lady that was one of my first Jr High School crushes after 47 years!)

Thee Midniters, a Chicano music band originally from East Los Angeles that helped start an English language Rock & Roll music revolution in the early 1960's for a generation of Chicanos post-Lalo Guerrero and Richie Valens (the Original Chicano Rock & Rollers), were on the mark as they played some of their memorable & immortal tunes with Hank Castro, LiL' Ray Jimenez, Steve Salas, Rocky Padilla, Gilbert Stokes, and Mike Jimenez taking turns at lead vocals. A short but sweet mention of well-known and beloved lead singers of Thee Midniters LiL' Willi G and Greg Esparza was also made in their absence.

Opening the first set of the first night, LiL' Ray Jimenez busted out with a bumpin' version of Marvin Gaye's "Stubborn Kind of Fella" , reminding so many people why Thee Midniters got the ball rolling in dance halls all over Los Angeles back in the day. LiL' Ray was one of the original lead singers of Thee Midniters in 1964, and the Brother still gots it going on.

Not one to be outdone, Hank "Thee Entertainer" Castro opened up and busted out on the second night with an electrifying version of "Everybody Needs Somebody", which was Thee Midniters' opening tune at the height of their success in the late 1960s. Hank Castro was also a dynamic lead singer for Thee Midniters back in the late 1970's early 1980's, replacing LiL' Willie G, and he did a righteous job of it.

Hank also nailed it all three nights with his soulful rendition of "The Town I Live In", one of Thee Midniters' more well known popular tunes that gets us older good looking folks slow dancing & smooching on the dance floor‘«™NOBODY is old when the good music plays!

And NOBODY was prepared for one of the highlights of all three nights when Steve Salas, better known as "The Voice of TIERRA", simply stole hearts and proved his stuff with his well done crooning of Thee Midniters' most popular song "That's All", with original saxophonist Larry Rendon giving up beautiful & soulful solos that got everybody's attention, and a standing ovation that was well deserved. THAT was a memorable performance indeed!

Git on witcho bad selves, Stevie & Larry!

Of course, the talented array of music talent that help make up Ray Carrion's L.A. Latin Legends this weekend included "Los Bobby's", two of L.A.'s best known & beloved horn men, Bobby Navarrette & Bobby Loya (who also currently help make up the powerful Midniters horn section), keyboardist Tony Hernandez, Rick Reyes at bass guitar, Gil Tower at flute, Steve Gutierrez at drums, Danny Diaz at guitar, Danny-Boy Padilla and guest stars Sal Rodriguez (of WAR) and Walfredo Reyes Jr (of SANTANA) on percussion, singers Rocky Padilla, Hank Castro, Gilbert Stokes, Matt Legaspi, Mike Jimenez, and Francesca Capasso were all simply magnificent!

The band moved & grooved easily from original SANTANA classics lead by master guitarist Ray Carrion, to Old School Oldies, Funk classics, Motown, classic R&B, and Soul classics, proving their musical versatility as some of the best in the business.

Another highlight of all three nights we weren't expecting, but were all pleasantly surprised with, was blues singer Francesca Capasso coming up and "tearing the roof off this mutha" with a most soulful and heart scorching version of Etta James' immortal classic "At Last."

Man! The girl had people almost in tears, as she received a warm and a well deserved (and loud) standing ovation on Sunday‘«™Etta James herself would have probably said "Daaamn!" had she been in the audience.

Popular comedians Rudy Moreno & Jay Lamont also tickled the funny bones during the breaks all three nights with their original comic routines, with Jay Lamont taking his "take" of Old School funk music to another level and surprising people with what somebody could do with a microphone!

And lastly, I was honored to serve as House DJ all three nights, making sure the Old School cruising Oldies kept on spinning and the Gente kept dancing before, during, and after the shows. Met a lot of good people, and had a great time myself!

All three shows opened up with trumpet player Bobby Loya (former U.S. Army Paratrooper & Viet Nam Veteran) playing the National Anthem and Taps, prompting all the Veterans in the house to stand and salute in honor of our service to our Country, and in memory of the fallen.

After the show, Ray and all the artists appeared tired, but happy & satisfied that for three straight nights, they brought EVERYBODY together & back to an earlier time, made some memories, made a lot of new fans, reconnected with old fans, and a good time that may or may not ever happen again‘«™ was had by all !

Life in the Land of 1000 Dances‘«™can it get any better?...rumor has it a documentary movie of this event may be in the works!

Author's Note: The Latin Legend All Stars continue on tour for music events. For further information on upcoming shows: 323-895-2863...and tell 'em you heard from LatinoLA!

About Frankie Firme, Contributing Editor:
Frankie Firme is the Al Capone of the microphone and the Hitman of West Coast Chicano Soul heard daily on Internet Radio Station www.eastLArevue.com, and is a regular contributor to this fine web magazine
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