A Night of Remembrance

Chico Manqueros & Company rock San Bernardino

By Frankie Firme
Published on LatinoLA: April 7, 2004

A Night of Remembrance

As I've said many times before, music & dancing have a healing power modern medicine has yet to emulate. It can bring smiles to unhappy faces, energy to tired bones, and make or rekindle fond memories that serve as a bond between people of all ages and races.

It also has a way of getting someone's attention, serving as a messenger for important messages, and a reminder that life, while meant to enjoy, is a precious commodity that can be easily squandered, wasted, and lost, if efforts aren't made to preserve.

So it was, on a cool, breezy, Southern Califas spring evening last week, that I find myself back in the Inland Empire, seeking out mi Gente in musical action, as a guest of my good friend, brother DJ Erik "Chico" Manqueros (pictured), and Jeff Eaton, for a celebration of life. The celebration, while also serving as a reunion and an opportunity for the Inland Empire Gente to get together & party, was also a solemn occassion, as the event served to help raise money for the American cancer Society and the American Diabetes Association, in memory of those no longer with us.

he reunion part was to bring back together that older, good looking, lowriding Chicano crowd from the 60's, 70's & 80's from areas like San Bernardino, Colton, Ontario, Pomona, Clairmont, Fontana, La Verne, Riverside, etc, and popular local Chicano groups like MAYA and HORNS,STRINGS & FRIENDS, with special guest Mic Gillete of Tower of Power fame.

The solemn part was that this group of people, like many other groups of people who remember good friends, good times, and the "good old days", are starting to notice their numbers dwindle due to the devastating effects of diseases like Cancer and Diabetes... something we didn't think about "back in the day", but now must face as we approach middle age, grandparenthood and the prospects of retiring from the rat race known as life.

The impetus for Jeff Eaton, a talented, accomplished, and experienced musician, was that many of the groups he had played with over the years had been putting off "getting back together" for years. With groups like the East L.A. Revue , Satisfaction, TIERRA, Chico, Nuestro, and Mestizo (just to name a few), keeping alive the popular Chicano music of Southern California, and the upsurge in reunion activity of the generation from the 60's, 70's and 80's, Jeff figured that "one of those days" had finally arrived, and it was time for a long overdue party.

Calling upon one of Southern California's favorite Latino DJ's, the nationally acclaimed host of the "Latin Style of Jazz" show Erik "Chico" Manqueros, to serve as host & Master of Ceremonies, about 700 people showed up for a party at the Gents Hall in San Bernardino that brought back the excitement of a time not so long ago.

Opening up the action, Nite Life, a veteran Chicano rock/funk/disco/oldies group started the dancing off with their hard hitting sound. About 200 people easily filled the dance floor while dinner was being served.

Next, a unique trio by the name of the Traveling Homeboys brought on the nostalgia with 50's & 60's rock n roll, bringing smiling older couples on the floor, and warming things up for the growing crowd, who were getting "in the mood". Backstage, Chico and I had to admit, "Not bad for just 3 dudes". Chico was having as much fun as the crowd, floating around, shaking hands with fans, dancing with his wife and taking pictures.

Next , the popular MAYA, a 1970's-80's group bumped the action a notch up with their Latin Jazz/Soul sounds reminiscent of a time when shag haircuts, platform shoes, bellbottoms & flairs were "da bomb". Many couples showed they had'nt lost a step, and it was evident that this crowd hadn't seen each other in years, judging by the hugs, handshakes, and sharing of wallet photos going on all over the hall.

Closing the show, HORNS,STRINGS & THINGS (formerly HORNS,STRINGS & FRIENDS) brought on a loud roar from the crowd as they came on with hard hitting brass and vocal harminies, reminding people that good times are not over. The reunion of this group, who hadn't played together in years, proved that Jeff Eaton's idea that "one of these days" was now!
Mic Gillete came out and wowed the crowd with his trademark trumpet & trombone solos, thanking the crowd for coming out to such a good time for a good cause.

As he closed with his trademark "you're still a young man" opening trumpet solo, you could here a collective "Awwww" from the crowd, as about 300 people crowde the dance floor for this all time Chicano favorite. As I left, I saw many people exchanging phone numbers and business cards, vowing to "get together again real soon".

It was a truly warm evening of love and the celebration of life, for us the living, and in happy remembrance of those there only in spirit. Good times, good music and good Gente! Now THAT'S what I'm talking about! Talk about bringing it back & keeping it alive..

And so my musical odyssey continues, seeking out Mi Gente and those oh-so-fine pockets of Chicanismo throughout Aztlan where memories are made, bringing you the 411 here, only on LatinoLA.com .

..who knows where Frankie Firme will show up next?...

Chico Manqueros can be reached at EManqueros@aol.com
Jeff Eaton can be reached at : www.jeffeatonmusic.com

About Frankie Firme:
Frankie Firme spins the finest Chicano style Oldies but Goodies every Thursday at 6:oo pm, (L.A. time)
only on www.KCLAFM.com

e-mail: Firmemusica@hotmail.com

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