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A Gift of Music, Dancing, and the Ongoing Celebration of Life

Ray Carrion's East Bay Legends/L.A. Latin Legends Christmas Party is a gift to all

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


A Gift of Music, Dancing, and the Ongoing Celebration of Life


As the holiday shopping fever slowly begins to come to a dull roar, Christmas lights & decorations are all hung up, tamales & tamale ingredients ordered, and we all begin to ponder our New Year's resolutions after Christmas, a lot of us Gente de Aztlan took a night off from all that commercialism this past weekend, put our best chancla forward, and attended a good Holiday party to begin our journey towards 2016 before Santa gets here....

Ray Carrion, no doubt one of the hardest working guys in contemporary & classic West Coast Latin Soul music in Los Angeles, put together another winner to add to his growing list of successful concert dances.

Calling it his "East Bay Legends/L.A. Latin Legend Christmas Party", Ray once again assembled some of the best West Coast music talent, and threw a party at the City of Industry VFW Post 1944 that once again swelled to standing room only capacity, and had the Gente dancing & partying till past midnight.

I was once again honored to be House DJ jammin' the Oldies, Cumbias, & Old School, as Internet television stars Richard "Thee Mr." Duran and Jacqueline Zaragoza were "Host & Hostess with the most & mostest," L.A. Street Doggz provided their celebrated killer L.A. style hot dogs & Chicano style potato salad, comedian Scott Shimamoto proved once again why he's the most popular Japanese-Chicano in L.A. since Tex Nakamura...and the party was ON !!

Opening the show, Scott Shimamoto came on stage to the first of his two performances, and had us all laughing in the aisles as he smoothly & effortlessly knocked down street myths & stereotypes with an Asian take on Chicanismo in the 'hood...and the crowd LOVED it!

Next up, the L.A. Latin Legend All Star Band came and took it to another level. Featuring Hank Castro at lead vocals, Ray Carrion at guitar, Rick Reyes at bass, Tony Hernandez at keyboards, Steve Gutierrez at drums, Walfredo Reyes Jr at timbales, with L.A.'s finest horn section, Johnny Burrola at saxophone, and "Los Bobby's "Bobby Loya at trumpet and Bobby Navarrete at saxophone & flute, the "Legends" proved why they're some of the best in L.A. as they musically cruised though different genres of music as smooth as silk,never missing a beat, and keeping the dance floor full.

Of course, Hank Castro drew a loud & emotional ovation for his heartfelt rendition of Thee MIdniter Classic "The Town I Live In," a song that has endeared him to thousands of fans over the years.

One of the first highlights of the night was popular L.A. vocalist Irma "Cui Cui" Rangel, who came on stage and put on a great performance, ending her set with a sizzling version of Doobie Brothers classic rock tune "Without Love, Where Would You Be Now?" closing off with a killer harmonica solo that drew a loud standing ovation...and a lot of "Wows!"

Next up, Ray Carrion's EUROPA Band came on stage, featuring original & former SANTANA Band members Chepito Areas, Walfredo Reyes Jr., Ndugu Chanceler, and Greg Walker.

Probably one of the best original SANTANA tribute bands in the country today, it seemed like EUROPA took me & the audience magically & musically back 40 years or more, to an exciting time when Afro-Cuban-Latin Rock and a young Mexican dude from Tijuana named Carlos Santana were something entirely new to the World, reminding of us of profound the social change of our generation, newly discovered freedoms, the Chicano power movement and killer of stereotypes, the Viet Nam War years...and a renewed sense of Latin pride many youngsters under 50 may never know, as many of us sang and danced to the music...OUR music !

Another one of the highlights of the night was when singer Greg Walker, the original vocalist on the SANTANA classic tune "Stormy," stopped in mid song to embrace percussionist Chepito Areas , telling the audience " I'm sorry ... I just feel so happy & overwhelmed... I haven't seen or shared a stage with this guy since 1974!"...and of course, a standing ovation at the conclusion of the song!

After a brief break, where the audience had a chance to dance to the DJ, or take a short stroll to the back lounge for a live Blues jam in process, or some fresh air, the show was on again.

Comedian Scott Shimamoto warmed us up again before the L.A.Latin Legend All Stars came back with a fervor, bringing on vocalists Rocky Padilla, Hank Castro, Francesca Capasso, Monibee Henley, TeCheetah Lopez, and Mike Castanon.

One highlight of the second set was REDBONE's Pat Vega coming up on stage and doing some favorite Redbone classics, including "Witch Queen of New Orleans" and "Come & Get Your Love."

Then another, one of the headliners of the night, TOWER OF POWER's original vocalist Rick Stevens, of TOP's first nationally recognized 1972 album and original singer of TOP's landmark tunes "Down to the Night Club," "You Got to Funkafy," "What is Hip?" and of course "You're Still a Young Man" came on stage and wowed everybody with his first Southern California appearance that many have waited over 40 years for....truly a night to remember!

The night ended well, and the large crowd stayed till closing, as Ray Carrion said, "It was a good night... and a surprisingly good crowd. I know that some other groups, like TIERRA, were also performing tonight in and around L.A., and I know a lot of people are still out Christmas shopping this weekend, so I was kind of surprised that so many people showed up to party with us tonight. It's a lot of work...but I had a lot of fun!...can't wait till our next show on New Year's Eve in San Bernardino."

...and so...life goes on in The Land of 1000 Dances!

Photo by David Aguilar's Facebook page

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