The Ritmo's Gonna Get You
Gettin' some satisfaction on a Friday night
It seems that even when I have a slow night, music & Mi Gente can make for a great time. Just being around the right people while the right music is playing is an experience that I enjoy sharing with people close to me, and it touches my inner soul with happiness to know that I'm not alone with this feeling.
Published on LatinoLA: February 26, 2004
I don't know...maybe it's a Brown thing, but I see the musica of my people as able to touch others in ways I don't see in other genres. I'm always taking note of the nuances that make us unique, in order to describe & share this with the World, as to avoid misinterpretations that breed stereotype where others wouldn't take the time.
So it was, on a Friday night, where I thought I would take a break from my musical odyssey, seeking out new spots where that good looking, Older Chicano crowd goes to have a good time, to accept an invitation I have been "rain checking" for months.
Returning to a place I had written about a couple of months ago, I returned to a place that my busy schedule has kept me away from, The Lakewood Hop in Lakewood, California.
Being fortunate enough to have made friends with managers Steven Caudillo and John "Dukie" Duganitz, and members of the ever popular house band, Satisfaction, I am often invited to The Hop just to hang out and talk, exchanging ideas on how we can better bring quality entertainment to the people. I like that. It's a pleasure to associate with people who actually care about others having a good time resulting from their efforts. The atmosphere at the Lakewwood Hop is a most comfortable one at that, reflecting Steven & John's desires to see that people have a good time.
Works for me!
My initial idea was that my Lady & I would invite my brother & his Lady, go down to The Hop for a social call with Steven & John, sit around for the first set of Satisfaction's performance, then maybe take off for a bite to eat before calling it a night.
Ha! Silly me....I forgot that you just can't do that when Satisfaction's on stage! It only took the band 2 songs, and the dance floor was full!
On one of those rare nights where I was more in the mood to just sit & watch & enjoy the ambience (make no mistake, The Lakewood Hop has a killer house DJ, so this was rare!), my brother and I couldn't keep our ladies in their seats once Satisfaction started ,and there we were...boogying down like that was the plan!
Bumping booties and shoulders with all the other happy people on the crowded dance floor, my Lady brought something to my attention that I hadn't noticed...here were all these Blacks & Gabachos & Asians DANCING TO CUMBIAS!! Wow! And dancing to them GOOD! There were plenty of Gente out there, don't get me wrong, but the Lakewood Hop caters to a mixed crowd, and to see a Chicano Band get all these people up and dancing together is a testament to the power of Chicano music, when played well. Have the United Nations, Red Cross & NATO top that!
I just had to go backstage between sets and compliment the band on how good they were sounding. Unlike some bands, who unfortunately take themselves too seriously for their own good and become unneccessarily arrogant when they're "in the zone", the band warmly welcomed me with hugs, handshakes and compliments returned in kind, introducing me to their wives & other family members.
I asked singer Eileen Benevides if she could do me the honor of mentioning me & my Lady when she sang her signature song "At Last", being that we came & heard her sing it on our first date. With a smile that could break a thousand young men's hearts, Eileen gave me a big hug and said "No problem, Frankie". I felt ever so grateful when the rest of the band happily assured me they would "make it good".
The start of the 2nd set seemed more colorful than the first, the band obviously warmed up and feeling the good vibes from the dancing crowd. Steven & John were working the crowd, making newcomers feel welcome and finding seats for the disoriented. The place had become standing room only by now, and Satisfaction kept everybody moving to their sound.
Rivaling only the dynamic Maria Conchita Sandoval of the East L.A. Revue All Stars as my pick of Chicana Diva mas de aquellas of today, Eileen dedicated her signature song "At Last" to me and my Lady, which drew loud applause not for me, but because they knew what was coming with this one. As expected, the dance floor got shoulder to shoulder full, with everybody gently swaying to Eileen & the Bands' hypnotic spell on them as she sang the Etta James classic the way it was meant to be sung. ?Con ganas!
Even though it was warmly expected, when home-chick took a half step back, drew in a breath and let loose with her now trade mark vocal roll at the end of the song, the dance floor stood still, awe struck and genuinely impressed! I saw Papa Benevides on stage on one end of the club, and Mama Benevides in the audience at the other end of the club, and you could see the moist, glistening eyes of pride in both of them, as Eileen, who at this moment became "Mija" to everybody in the house, put a lump of pride in my throat as I watched one of ours bring the house down! Then, as if feeling my pride, she flashed that million dollar smile once again at the end of the song, and said "That was for you, Frankie". I gotta admit, that touched me to tears! My lady, who is normally reserved, let out a loud "whooo!" that was lost amongst everybody else's! Thanks, Eileen! You made our night!
That was a moment, Mi Gente! You should have been there! As I've said before, had Etta been there, she would have been proud!
Satisfaction. What a band! The Lakewood Hop. What a place to party!
Stay tuned me Gente....who knows where Frankie Firme will show up next?
The Lakewood Hop at http://www.lakewoodhop.com
Satisfaction at: http://www.satisfactionband.com
Frankie Firme spins the finest Chicano Style Oldies but Goodies every Thursday at 6:00pm, only on www.kclafm.com