Hot Brown Fun in the Summertime!

The 2004 Latin Music Festival pleases a lively crowd

By Frankie Firme
Published on LatinoLA: September 23, 2004

Hot Brown Fun in the Summertime!

If you weren't there, you missed a great one! While some Gente stood home to watch the De La Hoya fight, or just stayed out of the Southern Califas sunshine, the rest of us were out at the Arrowhead Credit Union Stadium in san Bernardino catching the hottest music concert-show this summer, the 2004 Latin Music Festival.

Great weather, lots of food, drink, souveniers, an exceptional sound system, some of the hottest names in Chicano talent, and of course the beautiful Brown Gente de Aztlan made this a PARTY worth remembering!!

Steven Chavez and IT'S A SANTOS THING Productions outdid themselves this year with an event worth remembering.

This year, I was honored and privileged to serve as Host & Master of Ceremonies, and I partied down like everyone else that was there!

Opening the show, members of the California Army National Guard presented the Flag & gave tribute to our brave men & women in uniform, past & present, while guitarist Maxie Rico played the National Anthem, a-la-Jimi Hendrix style, to a pleasantly surprised crowd. Wow! Haven't heard something like that in years!

Staying on stage, Maxie & his group Power Exchange, which included WAR drummer Sal Rodriguez (who also pulled double duty as stage manager) and bassist Juan Cortez opened up the music with some classic 60's rock from back in the day that had some of the older crowd loosening up with smiles & approving nods.

Next, a San Bernardino crowd favorite, The Best of Everything, came up & set the mood with their take on Oldies and Rock n Roll, which got the crowd dancing. This group has been together for almost 40 years, and they're still rockin' the house!

Next up, the Crown Prince of Chicano Comedy, Gilbert Esquivel, came on stage and gave the crowd more than one reason to smile, laugh, & spend the day.With his trademark Barrio humor routine, Gilbert got everybody in a party mood, proving why he's one of the most popular comedians in the Country.( And this Country could use a good laugh once in a while, ?qu? no?)

Following that, CHICO, one of Southern California's more popular Chicano groups came on stage, with beautiful lead singer Bertha Oropeza wowing the crowd with her sensual crooning and hard hitting vocals. Man, when home girl, and the band did their take on "At Last", jackets starting coming off and the Gente hit the dance floor for this one. CHICO is by far one of the hotter acts you can catch in Southern Califas, and they proved to be such a crowd pleaser on this day! I met Lava Gonzalez backstage (of Lava & The Hot Rocks, and Blues Straight Up fame), and without saying a word, we broke out into a dance during CHICO's performance...with this good of music & good Gente, I didn't need a dance floor at the moment! Thanks, Lava! You were one of the many highlights of the day for me!

By popular request (actually demand), Gilbert Esquivel came back out on stage for another gut-busting laugh-a-thon, while some of the CHICO members joined up with members of their old group, The Village Callers.

Although Gilbert is a hard act to follow, The Village Callers were more than up to the task, as they showed why, after 35 years, they are still a crowd pleaser. Playing some of their popular hits, like the original "Evil Ways" (yes, pre-Santana), and "Hector", The Village Callers looked sharp on stage, and didn't miss a beat. To add spice to the moment, Mr. Shin Myata from Barrio Gold Records (Tokyo, Japan), was on hand promoting his Village Callers CD. Being an American~Chicano group of worthy mention, The Village Callers are currently a popular music favorite of Japanese youth in Japan, and it is noteworthy that Shin's Village Caller CD is actually a Japanese import.

Wow! A Japanese import of Chicano music! Who says Chicano music is not happening? My respect & congradulations to the Village Callers for this accomplishment. I got a chance to meet the group backstage, and they were quite a classy group of people.

As the sun started to go down, the temperature stayed hot as CAULDRON, a Chicano veterano group out of East L.A., guest-featuring such L.A. music greats as trumpeteer Bobby Loya (Blue Satins, TIERRA), trombonist Romeo Prado (Thee Midniters), and bassist Steve Falomir (TIERRA), CAULDRON got the Gente deep into the mood with their take on Oldies, R & B, Funk, & Rock n Roll. These guys sounded great, and the dance floors started getting busy.

Then, as the crowd was warmed up (and maybe just a little bit buzzed?), The EAST L.A. REVUE ALL STAR BAND hit the stage full force, to a loud & boisterous welcome. The duel vocals of Maria Conchita Sandoval and Teri Speed was more than the seated crowd could stand, and a dance floor broke out in front of the stage where there wasn't one before! The band was in the zone, and when they broke out into their signature "Lose a Good Thing" song, I had to come out front and get my lady on the dance floor. (Couldn't help it!). I also saw Steven Chavez & his wife Janie, along with several other performers, out on the dance floor partying it up with the Gente. Just when you thought they couldn't get any hotter, the band then welcomed special guest Micky Lespron (El Chicano fame) on stage, and it was on! I saw people dancing all over the stadium. Even some of the security guards started boogying at their posts! When was the last time you ever saw that happen?

Man..it was a party! I just had to invite all the crowd in the stadium seats to come down and join the V.I.P. section on the infield, right in front of the stage, for the rest of the show. Things were going that good!

Coming out to close the show in style, I then had the privilege of introducing one of my favorite groups of all time, the pride of Califas, MALO. The applause was thundering, as the crowd came their feet to welcome Jorge Santana (pictured) and Aurcelio Garcia, the original & founding members of the group.

Hard hitting vocals, ground shaking congas & timbales, butt kicking brass, impressive dance routines, and the legendary guitar solos of Jorge Santana got the crowd so excited that extra security came up close to the stage as the crowd swelled up in front of the performance. (Not really necessary, because the Gente know how to act! Everybody was having a great time, and there were NO incidents or problems. NOBODY got out of hand!)

As they closed with a sensual and mellow version of "Suavecito", everbody in the house rocked out in mellow fashion, almost everyone singing along and dancing. After almost 35 years, MALO is as good as ever!

It was a great time for everybody. I met so many good Gente from all over, all of them telling me what a great time they had...and how much they can't wait for next year's Festival! Steven Chavez, Santos Chacon & Bob Trujillo worked their butts off, and they all tell me that this year's Festival (only the 2nd) was better than last year's (the 1st), and that it will be even better next year! I truly believe these guys...

....and I will be there! Hope to see you all again!! And thanks for being there!

...who knows where Frankie Firme will show up next?...only LatinoLA knows!!

About Frankie Firme:
Frankie Firme spins the finest Chicano flavored Oldies but Goodies & Latin Soul music on the world wide web, this & every Thursday at 6:oopm, pst, only on www.kclafm.com
website: www.frankiefirme.50megs.com

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