A Weekend of Love & Pride
The cream of Chicano music spreads the love across L.A.'s valleys
It must be a sign that it's all good and getting better...after a week end of partying & dancing from The San Fernando Valley to San Gabriel Valley, Califas, my feet don't hurt as much as I thought they would. My smile lingers and I still feel the warmth of Mi Gente as I was once again privy to catch the Raza in musical action at two great shows.
Published on LatinoLA: February 19, 2004
The Valentine's Day / President's Day weekend brought the Gente out in force for some of the best music and dancing in Aztlan, and I'm glad to report that none of it ended up in the weekend news violence reports that have so besieged L.A. lately. That's the way it ought to be! We know how to act!
Starting it off on Friday, Chuck Herrera and the crew at The Fairways Country Club in Pacoima, hosted a sold out house for their annual Valentine's Day dinner & dance that was first class all the way. A beautifully decorated Country Club atmosphere, gourmet food, live music, dancing, and of course, that good looking San Fernando Valley Chicano crowd had the place packed & dancing till closing .
I, along with The East L.A. Revue's Steven Chavez and Nuestro band leader Ruben Palazuelos, were priviliged guests of brother Chuck & the crowd as they represented the San Fernando Valley in fine form. Everybody was looking good, and the love was so thick you could wrap it in a tortilla. Steven, Ruben and I were warmly welcomed by the crowd, and again, we were made to feel like part of the familia. Thank you again, Mi Gente! We are forever grateful!
Starting off the action was The Company, all dressed up and hot from the first note. As what has become the norm, the dance floor quickly filled to capacity, with happy, smiling Gente kicking up the chancla. In between, DJ Flacomania had no problem keeping the dance floor full, as the brother seems to feel what the Gente wants to hear, bringing loud cheers of approval at the start of every selection.
Then, I was privileged to be asked to introduce my homies from the Eastside making their first appearance at the Fairways, Rudy Salas (pictured) and the ever popular TIERRA. Prior to the show, I met briefly with Rudy and lead singer Billy Mondragon. They both agreed, the Gente from the San Fernando Valley were looking good, especially the ladies, who seemed to outnumber the fellas by 2 to 1. (Guys, if you haven't been there, you gotta get a hold of Chuck and check out his shows!)
Even before I finished my introduction, the crowd hit the dance floor in anticipation, showing their appreciation for one of Chicano music's greatest groups. As always, TIERRA reciprocated in style, giving the crowd what they came to hear & see. With their trademark "Zoot Suit" entrance, hot Latin brass & percussion, Billy Mondragon's excellent vocals and the group's friendly bantering with the crowd between songs, one was left with the feeling that they were in the right place, at the right time!
Sunday, I traveled to the other side of town, the San Gabriel Valley, where I was host & emcee of Soto Entertainment Group's 3rd Annual President's Day Jam at the historic Montebello Inn on Whittier Blvd. Warmly welcoming me back to home turf, the Gente from the San Gabriel Valley & East L.A. let me know I was doing right by showing up in force, and SHARPLY dressed (although every crowd has the baboso who comes to the club in a baseball hat) also making this a sold out event. My friends and family came out, as well as a large, well dressed, older Chicano crowd from all over, to catch one of the best assemblage of Chicano musical talent ever. Again, the ladies in attendance outnumbered the men!
Some of you guys need to get off the porch more often!
Giving back a little of what I got, Chuck Herrera and his family were my guests at this one, and the hometown crowd helped me make them feel welcome. Thanks, Mi Gente. As always , you do me proud! Orale, Chuck! Welcome to the Eastside!
Starting off the party, Sangria kicked it off with their saucy Latin soul/funk/cumbia sounds, that brought on the need to turn up the air conditioner, because the temperature quickly rose about 10 degrees! Then, the surprise of the evening, the East LA Revue All Stars brought on a nostalgic exchange of approving grins and nods from the Gente with their trademark "East Side Sound" Chicano Rock n Roll, that got all the veteranos in the house on the floor. The only complaint from the crowd was that their set was too short! Steven & Janie Chavez's efforts have not been in vain!
Then the stars & closers of the show, Soto, came out and wowed them with hot, non-stop techno-disco dance music that left the crowd happily breathless, and with a full feeling that they had the best of everything Chicano music has to offer. I feel so bad for the Gente that came late, and couldn't get in! See you next year!
My gift of appreciation to the crowd was that I took a chance and broke from traditional night club house music in between sets (disco/hip-hop, etc) and broke out them Oldies but Goodies, getting couples on the floor with slow jams, which was loudly and happily approved, prompting many to scream out "It's about time!"
Ahhh...as I close this episode of my musical journey through Aztlan, I am left with a warm feeling of contentment, aware that Chicano music, and that good looking, older Chicano crowd are very much alive and kicking in Aztlan!! Carnalismo, love, respect and good times are themes we live by, and I feel ever so blessed to be a Brown man with music in my soul!
Stay tuned, Mi Gente, my musical odyssy continues, as I endeavor to unite our people through the arts of music & dancing, and bring you the full report here, only on LatinoLA.com !
Who knows where Frankie Firme will show up next?...
Note: Bruce Soto can be reached at: www.SotoEntertainmentGroup.com. Steven Chavez can be reached at : (909) 897-7705. Chuck Herrera can be reached at : (818)266-3180
Frankie Firme spins the finest Oldies but Goodies on the World Wide Web, live, every Thursday at 6:oopm,(L.A. time) only on www.kclafm.com