In Good Company
A good time at the Fairways in Pacoima
As has been my distinct privilige, I once again bring mi Gente good news, about good times, and great Chicano talent, here only on LatinoLA.com .
Published on LatinoLA: March 3, 2004
I'm having a great time, I must say, and I wholeheartedly invite all mi Gente to join me in what can only be described as a renaissance of the Chicano experience of getting together and celebrating life as only WE know how, taking the world on, on our terms. No pedo, no attitude, no class distinction, nothing but respect & love for our people, and of course good times with music & dancing. ??Orale!! Gotta be there!
Chicano rock-n-roll-n-soul beats the hell out of someone yelling "Put yo hands in da air..hey!" or "OOOh OOOOh" ad nauseum...know what I mean? Leave that for the hip-hop youngsters who never learned how to comb their hair, or the-over-the-hill Saturday Night Fever wannabe's ?Ha! (conversations like "huh?" and "what?" because of loud booming, just don't do it for me or the good gente I know)
Good music, dancing, and that good-looking, well-dressed (no bofos in baseball hats), 40 and over Chicano crowd are all making a comeback big time.....or has it been there all the time, and I've just been too focused on chasing the dragon of life till I got within a nickle of hittin' 50 before I realized that life is for the living, and living well is the best revenge?
....Oh well, like a lot of Gente who are cool, hard working & happy grandparents with ritmo in their souls who refuse to age, I say "??Dale gas!!". Hard times haven't stopped us from living, and we ain't NEVER too old to party...and let me tell about a good place to do just that...
So it was, on another firme Southern Califas Friday night in my never-ending journey through Aztlan seeking out Mi Gente in musical action, that I find myself back in the San Fernando Valley, at the Fairways Restaurant Tavern & Country Club in Pacoima, California (aka The Tavern on the Green to Gente in the know), at the invitation of Chuck Herrera & the crew, to catch a dance show by Chicano heavy hitters MESTIZO. Committed as he is to bringing quality Chicano entertainment to the Gente of the Valley, MESTIZO proved Chuck ain't doin' wrong! As anybody who knows Chuck...well get on, then!
As expected, MESTIZO was hot, with their trademark Latin Jazz/funk sounds and tight percussion & brass, keeping the gente smiling & dancing & buying CDs. As what sometimes happens with popular groups (especially Chicano groups in L.A. of some distinction), booking arrangements & the dreaded L.A. Friday night freeway traffic necessitated a last minute reversal of roles, with the increasingly popular Fairways house band and show openers, The Company, getting the call to be the closers of the night.
...now here's the real carne of this story, mi Gente...
A veteran group of performers, The Company came out like that was the plan. Unbeknownst to me, I had seen members of the band comfortably socializing with the Gente like they had the night off, and I thought the night belonged to MESTIZO. When MESTIZO ended and started packing it in early, band leader Eddie Garcia must have noticed the confused look on my face. He came over and laughingly assured me the night was "not even close to being over" and invited me to stick around. (Whew! I had invited my brother and some friends all the way from the San Gabriel Valley and wasn't looking forward to ending their night in the San Fernando Valley at Denny's, for lack of somewhere to go!). I should have known something was up when the crowd began getting bigger during MESTIZO's last set...like I said earlier, Gente in the know, tu sabes...
The Company, a versatile, talented and well seasoned Chicano band out of the San Fernando Valley, has built up a growing and respectable following, which now includes my Lady and I. Not a difficult task, given their hot performances, which always draw a crowd at the Fairways, the band is comprised of: Eddie Garcia- founder & band leader, keyboards, synthysizers & vocals; Ray Cordova - music arranger,keyboards, synthysizers & vocals; John Sanchez - drums; Bert - congas, percussion & vocals; Marvin Ware - bass guitar; and Rick Ilejay - guitar .
This veteran group has been together and entertaining the Gente for over 12 years, and in the tradition of a truly "firme" Chicano group, they can play it all! Their sound is powerfully enhanced by the dynamic and sensual vocals of a beautiful newcomer to the Chicano music scene, a heart-stopping blonde bombshell by the name of Ms Becky DeSpain. Her man Ray Cordova has no problem smiling his pride to the world as she performs with verve and talent, and a voice that can melt ice on a cold night!
Besides being so good, the members of the band are surprisingly friendly and easily approachable. They blend in easily with the crowd like familia, and they have no problem getting out on the dance floor between sets. Eddie & Ray also being fans of my show, had no problem giving me a shout out during their performance, and have promised me the honor of being the first radio show on the West Coast to play their new CD, which is highly anticipated later on this year. (Gracias, hermanos!) Get ready, Mi Gente.... the Company's coming!
Always ending their sets with style & finesse, Becky & the Band surprised me with a tribute to my show and an unselfish public act of respect and appreciation for 2 other singers in her class -- and we're talking CLASS, homies! In reference to the beautiful & talented Maria Conchita Sandoval of The East L.A. Revue All Stars and the gorgeous & sizzling Eileen Benavides of Satisfaction, Becky showed me & the house what's up by singing of medley of BOTH these ladies' signature songs, "You'll Lose a Good Thing" (Maria's) and "At Last" (Eileen's) that left me with a lump in my throat, as she ended it with her dazzling smile and over the roar of the appreciative crowd, she said "That was for you & your Lady, Frankie. Thanks for being here!"
Damn!... Talk about a moment! You should have been there, Mi Gente! In the ultimate show of admiration for a performance well done by a simply gorgeous woman, Becky got the loudest applause & screams from the females in the audience. I saw Chuck Herrera and most of his staff, and even a waitress, on the dance floor, none of us able to resist the magic of the moment The Company provided us all with.
You know I'll be back!
My musical odyssey continues Mi Gente, bringing you the 411 on the best in Chicano entertainment, dancing & good times! The full report here, only on LatinoLA.com!
...who knows where frankie Firme will show up next? ?Orale!
Note: For some of the best Chicano entertainment events in The San Fernando Valley every other week end at the Tavern on the Green at The Fairways Country Club in Pacoima, give Chuck Herrera a call at : 818-266-3180 and tell him you heard it from Frankie Firme!
March 20th- TIERRA
March 26th - THE EAST L.A. REVUE ALL STARS
MAY 8th - NUESTRO
Frankie Firme spins the finest Chicano style Oldies but Goodies on the World Wide Web every Thursday at 6:00pm. L.A. time, only on www.kclafm.com