A Hollywood Night in Aztlan

CHICO rocks BB King's House of Blues

By Frankie Firme
Published on LatinoLA: March 14, 2005

A Hollywood Night in Aztlan

After a brief hiatus, I'm back on the road. When I'm not working my day job, doing my radio Show, or hosting a live show, I'm cruisin' the musical boulevards of Aztlan where that cool, hip, good looking, slightly over-40 Chicano crowd goes to get their boogie on and share smiles & good times and bringing you the full report here on LatinoLA.com .

The killer L.A. rains of 2005 have passed, and it's time to start steppin' out again!

This past week~end, my travels took me to the famed BB King's House of Blues at the Universal Citywalk at the Universal Studios complex in Hollywood, California at the invitation of promoters Rick Ortiz and Steven Chavez.

I've been to BB's numerous times, for private parties, or to catch a good dose of local Blues & Rock music performed live. Nothing like it, especially when the environment is comfortable and good food & service is available...that's BB King's of course.

This week , there was a different charge in the evening air. A first for me, an East L.A. Chicano group was hitting the stage at BB's...something I hadn't seen before. Who better to vanguard and break the ice, and bring the West Coast flavor of Chicano soul to the masses but the incomparable CHICO, featuring Bertha Oropeza.

I've been a fan of CHICO's for years, and have worked a couple of times with them, most notably at last year's Latin Oldies Music Festival in San Bernardino, where after a stellar performance, some of the members of the band metamorphsized back into their original group, L.A.'s legendary Village Callers.(http://latinola.com/story.php?story=2058). I've been a fan of Bertha Oropeza's even longer, remembering her as the gorgeous blonde pachuca in the movie "Zoot Suit", and catching her guest appearance with the East L.A. Revue All Stars a couple of years ago. Like fine wine and Chicano music, Bertha just gets better with time. She is still gorgeous, her voice is still excellent, and she shows no signs of slowing down. Tonight, her and the band were in the "zone!".

To a sold out, standing room only crowd, CHICO hit all the corners, going from Latin Jazz/Soul to Funk, Cumbias, Oldies, Disco, Tex~Mex, Nortenos, Salsa, Swing & Rock n Roll, with every member giving it their all, filling the dance floor and raising the temperature on all 3 floors of the club. Luckily, my Lady & I were lucky to share a table with Steven & Janie Chavez of the East L.A. Revue when we weren't on the crowded dance floor, or we would have been left standing... The place was shoulder to shoulder crowded for most of the night! Not a bad thing, especially when surrounded by the beautiful BROWN Gente de Aztlan, all having a good time!

One of the highlights of the night (if not 2) was guitarist Danny Diaz doing his thing, as Danny HAS to be the poster child for the fountain of youth properties of music. One of the original members of CHICO, as well as The Village Callers, Danny's playing abilities belie his age (I ain't giving up no digits here, but like me, I KNOW Danny doesn't get carded anymore!), as home~boy "wowed" everybody with his solos, especially on "Johnny B Good". His stage persona & performance turns him back into a teenager, and he looks like he's having a better time than the audience he's entertaining!

That's the way it's supposed to be done! That's talent, Mi gente!

I would put Danny up in the same category as Rudy Salas of TIERRA, Chris Reserva of SATISFACTION, or Byron "B-MAN" Domingo of the BLUES STRAIGHT UP BAND, as one of L.A.'s best guitarists currently on the circuit. (These guys are all in the "wow" league!)

Through it all, promoter Rick Ortiz sat at his table beaming like a proud Papa, taking in all the love of the Gente, watching us make the occassion a straight out party! He asked me to introduce CHICO for their second set, and I couldn't HELP but ask "..Is it me, or are there just a lot of BROWN people in here like never before?"...the approving roar of the crowd easily answered the question.

Rick told me, "I've promoted a lot of shows, but this is one of the better ones I've booked at BB King's House of Blues...looks like people like Chicano music, huh?".

....Are there mustaches in Mexico, Carnal?

Rick also told me CHICO will be returning to the BB King's Citywalk House of Blues on April 2nd, and that he has a couple of other shows lined up to promote Chicano music at this famous venue. LatinoLA.com will be there!

I asked him about such heavy L.A. hitters like TIERRA, SATISFACTION, THE EAST L.A. REVUE ALL STAR BAND, or Gilbert Esquivel's Old School Comedy & Music Revue...and he just smiled and said "...Whatever it takes to get the Gente together, and out here to the House of Blues"...

...and so my journey thru Aztlan continues...with a couple of aniticipated stops at BB King's, bringing you the full report here on LatinoLA.com.

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

note: keep an eye on LatinoLA.com's calendar page or logon to www.rickortizprod.com for
the latest musical happenings in the Land of 1000 Dances.
The weather's getting better...so is the action in Latino L.A. !
For more info on CHICO, log onto www.chicoband.com

About Frankie Firme:
When not working his day job or running the streets of L.A., Frankie Firme spins the finest Chicano Oldies but Goodies and latin Soul music in the World on www.kclafm.com and www.chicanoexpress.com
website: www.frankiefirme.50megs.com

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