New Year's in Aztlan

The Gente steps out in Califas

By Frankie Firme
Published on LatinoLA: January 14, 2005

New Year's in Aztlan

By all accounts, New Year's 2005 in Califas, Aztlan, was nothing but a party!

Despite miserable weather, and our Country still in the midst of a war, with the national economic recession slowly taking a break (slowly being the painful part), the Gente still managed to ring in 2005 with joy & good spirits.

Louie Cruz Beltran and his Latin Jazz Ensemble rang in the New Years in Bakersfield.

Gilbert Esquivel & The Company brought it in at The Fairways Country Club in Pacoima.

TIERRA rocked the house in San Fernando, The FineTones Doo~Wopped 2004 out in Norwalk, The Rythym Kings & ACE had Gente dancing in Santa Fe Springs, The Lakewood Hop put out a gourmet dinner and their best DJ's to dance 2004 away, and Thee Midniters made an appearance in the City of Commerce...and all houses were packed!

By all accounts, this was just a sample of the many great parties going on, and I was invited to all of these, along with many other private affairs for the New Years.

Being New Year's Eve and all, and me being a Brown vato, I took the advice of some police & highway patrol friends : "Get a room somewhere for the night... or we might reserve one for you with us!"...('nuff said, Officer!)

So, after some brief thought, my Lady and I decided to go over all the invitations we had received, and picked out the chingonest of them all. (No disrespect to the others, by ANY means!) ...a night with SATISFACTION!

So there we were on New Year's Eve, "dressed to the nines" with everybody else, at the Saddleback Lounge at the Norwalk Ramada Inn, a new venue that is rapidly becoming one of L.A.'s hottest night spots where that cool, hip, good looking and (slightly) over 40 Chicano crowd goes to get their boogie on in style to the finest in Chicano music & dancing entertainment.

Tonight, Guy Zimmerman and the Ramada Inn staff pulled out all the stops as the pride of Southern Califas, SATISFACTION, featuring the beautiful & talented Eileen Benavides, were the stars of the night that seemed to make the clouds go away, if only for the last hours of 2004.

I was honored & priviliged to serve as host & MC for the night, at the invitation of SATISFACTION & The Ramada Inn, at which time I chose to announce my engagement to my golden haired Lady, Josie, who has agreed to be my Christmas present for life. (Like tamales, I'll always have something to unwrap at Christmas time! Ha!!)

After some food, brief banter, greetings, and well wishes, I had the pleasure of introducing my good friends, SATISFACTION, which brought an immediate roar from the crowd, and the dance floor filled from their very first song and stayed that way the rest of the year! (..hadda throw that one in somewhere, tu sabes!) I ran into my friend, singer Pepe Marquez and his lady, Yolanda, as they had come all the way from Santa Barbara, in the rain, just to get some satisfaction!

As expected, the Daddy~Daughter vocal team extraordinnaire of Robert & Eileen Benavides filled the room with love & talent, displaying their versatility and superb showmanship, as they accompanied the band through a wide variety of dance music genres, going easily & smoothly from english to spanish and back. Belying his years, despite being the father of the prettiest member of the band (no offense guys!), Robert Benavides has proven to be a master crooner/rock n roller/entertainer, his fine voice and sparkling stage personality making the show, as his presence calls you out to the dance floor for a good time. I had to disappoint many a lady in the crowd who asked me if he was "available".

(I've had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Benavides, and it's easy to see why Robert is always smiling and in a good mood! You go, homie!!... Sorry , girls!!)

Of course, not enough can be said about the gorgeous Eileen, with her million dollar smile and superb multi-octave voice, dancing and singing seem to come as second nature as she is truly an entertainer and one of the stars of the show. On a personal note, she is also a lady of class, and my Lady & I are ever so impressed with Eileen the person, as well as the entertainer, whom we are priviliged to call our friend.

Blowing on that sax ever so sweet, and supplyling back up vocals & percussion, my homie & brother Viet Nam Vet Jimmy Silva adds a special touch to the bands' versatility, and makes us guys of the grey haired set proud, as he dances, sings & performs with a style young guys could take note of.

Making the magic of the keyboards, Ruben Martinez was in "da zone" tonight, as he proved to be a "master of the magic", adding the right juice at the right time to every song, making it his, to share with the crowd.

Keeping the beat going, and making the beat in itself, drummer Ralph Orozco shows the influence of his long musical career as he can jam with the best I've ever heard (and I've heard alot!) and could be right at home with any band, on any stage, at any time! He is also a man of talent & style. (This one's available, ladies!!) Luckily, he satifies only with SATISFACTION!

Despite a small setback that almost took him off the set earlier this year, my man Art Alvarado shows no signs of slowing down as puts down the "floor & carpet" of every song at bass guitar, while singing & dancing on stage like he's jammin' comfortably at home, and nobody's lookin'. His hot solos bring out the boogie in any booty!

There's nothing little about his performances, although he's frequently referred to as "Little Santana" , master guitarist Chris Reserva is easily becoming known as one of the better guitarists in the Country and of contemporary music today. Easily singing & dancing along with the band as he flawlessly "hacks his axe", Chris brought "oohs & ahhs" from the crowd as he jumped right into the middle of the crowded dance floor a couple of times in mid song and gave up some spectacular guitar solos that had people stopping in mid dance to just stare and go "wow!...this dude can play!".( Like I've said many a time before,"Carlos who?") Sorry, girls, Chris is also blessed with a wonderful Lady!!

If ever 2 bookends were perfectly matched, it's Chris on one side, and Robert on the other. And with Eileen & the band in the middle, you couldn't ask for a better entertainment package that truly SATISFIES!

This group doesn't just play music, they PERFORM it, in the true sense of the word, and tonite, they were "in da zone"!!! (My feet still hurt!)

Catch their act...and get some SATISFACTION! You won't be disappointed!

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

...only LatinoLA.com knows....HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL! IT'S A BROWN THING,BABY!!!!

Note: The SATISFACTION BAND is available for all occasions, public or private. For more info, please visit their website at :www.satisfactionband.com

The Saddleback Lounge at The Norwalk Ramada Inn will feature SATISFACTION, along with other top Chicano talent like The EAST L.A. REVUE ALL STARS, SOTO, SANGRIA and others. For upcoming concert information, contact Guy Zimmerman at: (562) 868- 0991


About Frankie Firme:
Frankie Firme spins the finest cruising Oldies but Goodies and Latin Soul music on the World Wide Web every Thursday at 6:oopm, at www.KCLAFM.com, and daily on www.chicanoexpress.com
website: www.frankiefirme.50megs.com
e~mail: frankiefirme@yahoo.com

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