Browntown Music, U.S.A.
The Land of 1000 Dances comes alive
It seems that whenever you assemble good Chicano musical talent anywhere in L.A., Chicanos y Chicanas will turn out for the party en masse. Tu sabes, word gets out, the Gente dress up & step out lookin' good, and the next thing you know, it's on! PAR-TAY! Boo-ya! Age, race, or territoriality can't compete with the Brown love of music, especially when it comes to Mi gente... and especially in the Land of 1000 Dances: Califas, Aztlan
Published on LatinoLA: May 26, 2004
So it was, after a fine Friday night of dancing & partying with the East L.A. Revue All Star Band in Pacoima, the Lakers whuppin' Minnesota, and hot reports of The Satisfaction Band keeping the Gente happy in Lakewood, Saturday night finds me in the heart of LOS, joining 15,000 good lookin' Brown people at the famed Greek Theatre in Griffith Park, for a sold out concert featuring some of the West Coast Raza's best: Thee Midniters, MALO, TIERRA and WAR... Man, somebody pinch me!...all this hot, fine, Brown entertainment on a weekend, and it's not even a holiday! Orale!
...What can I say? It's a Brown thing, baby! Welcome to the Land of 1000 Dances!
Opening up and starting off the action to a gradually swelling crowd (Chicano time, tu sabes...some call it fashionably late), Lil' Willie G and Thee Midniters brought back the nostalgic East L.A. sounds as only they can, as the sun slowly set on this beautiful L.A. afternoon. Still looking & sounding good at 55, Willie & the guys haven't lost a thing, and ladies of all ages still scream & swoon when he opens up them pipes for "That's All".
Next, San Francisco Bay area favorites, and headliners of this year's Latin Oldies Music Festival, MALO (pictured), hit the floor hard, coming out 10 strong. Their hard hitting Latin brass, percusssion and dazzling choreography (not to mention a large, strange smelling cloud of smoke that permeated the area as soon as the sun went down) got the Gente on their feet and dancing.
As if this wasn't enough, when Jorge Santana strutted on stage a couple of songs later, the roar of the crowd became deafening. This brutha can play the guitar, I ain't lying! The entire audience danced & sang along for such crowd favorites as "Nena" and "Suavecito", MALO sounding as good as they ever have, and lookin' hot. Showcasing some of their new tunes from their upcoming CD, MALO more than satisfied their old fans, while making many new ones. Man, it's been a long time since I've seen MALO perform, and I didn't want them to end. You gotta catch their act this September, Mi Gente! They are something to watch, hear, and dance to!!
Next, always a crowd pleaser, the pride of the Eastside, TIERRA, took the stage to a loud ovation and lots of love. Displaying their outstanding musical talent and dazzling showmanship during their trademark "Zoot Suit" routine, TIERRA got the crowd to their feet and dancing in the aisles. Lead vocalist Billy Mondragon has clearly come of age (being the youngest member of this veterano group) and had the ladies in the nosebleed section screaming out his name as he hit TIERRA classics like "Gonna Find Her", "Are We in Love" , and "Together" his way, hitting the high notes and vocal rolls better than any other male vocalist around today. Rudy Salas got in on it with some of the best guitar solos I've ever heard him play, and I could see the approving eyes of Jorge Santana as he proudly watched Rudy's performance on the sidelines. (Can't get no better compliment than that, Homes!) Clearly stealing the show, Billy Mondragon showed his stuff when he did the Manhattan's classic "Feels So Good to be Loved So Bad" TIERRA style...with plenty of Brown class! Brutha had THE GUYS yelling out his name after this one. (Now THAT's talent!)
Closing the show, Lonnie Jordan and the new and improved WAR came out out simply wowed the highly (ahem!) energized crowd, who by now just couldn't stay in their seats. Apologizing for not being around for a while, WAR quickly made up for lost time, adding new twists to WAR classics like "Country City, Country", "Slippin' into darkness" and "Spill the Wine". (Almost) new drummer Sal Rodriguez from Pacoima made the Raza proud with his sizzling percussion and vocals on "The Cisco Kid", "Cinco de Mayo" and "Lowrider", and brought loud cheers from the Gente every time the large close up screen monitors flashed him in action. (Vato can play!) Closing the final moments of the show was everybody's favorite Southern Califas cruisin' tune "All Day Music", and you could feel the love & warmth in the slowly chilling air as the entire audience sang along.
Wow! What a show! You should have been there! It was truly a Brown thing, baby!
And so my musical trek through Aztlan continues, seeking out the Chicano action, and bringing you the full report, here, only on LatinoLA.com...
...who knows where Frankie Firme will show up next?...hmmm...any ideas?...
Frankie Firme spins the finest Chicano style Oldies but Goodies in the World every Thursday at 6:oopm, L.A. time, only on www.kclafm.com