Mas Cool... But Still Sizzling in Aztlan
Beautiful music & gente everywhere in L.A.
There just ain't no stoppin' the action in the Land of 1000 Dances. Just because the weather's hot doesn't mean there's no cool happenings in Southside Kali. And YOU KNOW Brown people are the best at struttin' their stuff when the time is right!
Published on LatinoLA: June 6, 2005
Memorial Day week-end was no exception, as the Gente proudly honored our warriors by flying the Flag, staying local, and keeping the peace, while stepping out and enjoying the best music, at the best venues, among the best people.
That Thursday night, besides my Internet radio show, which always gets people in the mood, the Legendary Joe Bataan started the week-end off by performing to a packed house at Pepito's Cantina in Riverside, Califas. Author-publisher-music producer Ruben Molina let me know that the action was hot, and destined to get hotter! Joe is making a series of comeback performances in the Land of 1000 dances to a most grateful audience, so keep your ears open.
Friday night, the one & only SATISFACTION did it right at the Lakewood Hop like only they know how. This tight group just seems to get better every time my Lady & I step out to catch one of their performances. Adding new songs & colorful variations to their already versatile repetoire, lead vocalist Eileen Benavides now honors Janet Joplin & Tina Marie in her soulful & sensual renditions of the classics, doing them her way.
And you ain't seen NOTHING till you've seen master guitarist Chris Reserva (aka "Lil' Santana"), complete in black suit, full tie, & top hat tongo, leap on a club speaker and crank out a most deadly guitar solo, Eddie Van Halen style, to the open mouth wonderment & suprise of a most appreciative crowd. Now THAT's ENTERTAINMENT!! As usual, Robert Benavides & the rest of the band (Ruben, Jimmy, Art & Ralph) are a well oiled machine.
Lakewood Hop manager Steve Caudillo and I could not help but notice what's becoming an engaging Lakewood Hop landmark: The dancing man of SATISFACTION, a man known only by the name "Whurrie". My Lady & I have been to the Lakewood hop several times in the past 2 years to see SATISFACTION, and we always notice this guy off to the side of the stage, just having a ball dancing by himself.
"He doesn't cause any problems...he pays his admission, maybe drinks a couple of sodas, dances to every song that SATISFACTION plays...then leaves when they're done. Sometimes women ask him to dance, but if not, he just parties by himself in that one spot" Steve tells me. I had to go up & introduce myself to Whurrie. He just smiled and said "I love this band, I love to see & hear them perform, and I love to dance"...like a lot of male fans, I figured he just came to see Eileen...but hey, who doesn't? SATISFACTION...the one & only!! They keep my Lady & I on the dance floor, no matter where they play!
Saturday afternoon had me heading towards Santa Fe Springs Swap meet where Joe Bataan (pictured) was making 2 last appearances before heading back to New York. Despite temperatures in the 90's, an enthiusiastic crowd of at least 1,000, if not more, packed the centerstage quad to hear one of Chicano music's icons. With an exceptional and extraordinary band comprised of Aztlan's best, including legendary trumpeteer & music director Bobby Loya, saxophonist mas chingon Bobby Navarette, percussionist Sal Rodriguez of WAR, and singer Rocky Padilla, among others, the music was as perfect as you could get, and Joe was "in da zone", singing, giving out prayers, love, and a beautiful message about peace & respect among the carnales & carnalas of the barrios de Aztlan.
It must have taken hold, because I saw some of the baddest lookin' Brown vatos and their Ladies from probably every 'hood in L.A., from the West Side to Pomona, from the Coast to the San Fernando Valley, homies were representin' big time....and there was no pedo or pleitos! Lot's of hand shaking & introductions...lot's of respect! (Lot's of nervous cops, too! ha!)
I got a chance to interview Bobby Loya and Bobby Navarrete (dubbed "Los Bobby's" after a most successful gig with Tejano superstar Ruben Ramos last year), and both these guys were as enthusiastic & happy as 2 teenagers.
"This is the music and spirit of our people! This..(pointing to the large crowd) is what gets me going and living life the way I do. I love my people, I love my music." Bobby Loya told me. I asked him about his long career starting off with East L.A.'s legendary BLUE SATINS, thru his stint as an original member of TIERRA, to the many different genres of gigs I've seen him at over the years ( the Oxnard Salsa Festival, with Ruben Ramos & the Texas Revolution, with Thee Midniters, etc) and now as a music director, what keeps him as enthused as he is. "Music is always changing, always evolving, as are our People, it's never boring, but we must always remember our roots. That's what keeps me connected to the people. I just love what I do, man! And I'm gonna keep on doing it". From the looks of it, homie should have NO problems!
I then spoke with Bobby Navarrete (TIERRA, THEE MIDNITERS), who was also enthused by the crowd. "Look at all these people...all the different generations of Gente they represent...they're all here because of the music! Music is a powerful and multi-generational bond, handed down from the old to the young, and we need to keep that going. It's the legacy of the Gente, the power of my people. I'm putting a book & CD together that I hope will capture that idea & spirit. To play with people like Joe Bataan and this great group of musicians is not only fun, but an honor...because we play for the people!".
I caught up with drummer Sal Rodriguez briefly, who just couldn't get the Cheshire Cat grin off his face. "Did you see all these people partying out there, Frankie? They were having a good time...and when my people are having a good time, I have a good time! Hell, I can keep on playing! I love the music, and I love to have a good time". I've worked with Sal on a couple of gigs, and I got to admit, the guy always manages to have a good time!
Out in the crowd, I ran into a number of Gente from the Chicano music world, all here to soak up the love of the Gente and hear the music. I ran into Arcelio Garcia of MALO, Tex Nakamura of WAR, Art Alvarado and Ruben Martinez of SATISFACTION, Shin Myata of Barrio Gold Records & Lowrider Magazine, Tokyo, Japan, Internet Radio's Ray "Maloman" Roybal, and music promoter Toni West.
Both Shin & Tex (homies out of Tokyo, Japan), have told me that Chicano music is real big in Japan right now, and they have been big fans and followers of almost everything Chicano for years... I'm honored to say, among the 1000 or more Chicano homies out there on Saturday...we added 2 more to the family! Aregato! (Japanese for Gracias!)
Whew! I thought the day was done, but nooooooooo! As the sun went down, the Gente migrated northwest, out to Hollywood...out to Universal City's Citywalk...out to BB King's, where my friends, the dynamic EAST L.A. REVUE ALL STAR BAND was putting in a demand return performance. To a packed house, Art Hernandez and The East L.A Revue gave a much appreciated refresher course on the "Eastside Sound" to a responsive crowd. The horns never sounding better, vocalist Teri Speed made up for Maria Sandoval's unexpected absence by "taking it upstairs" (in BB King's that's 3 flights up!) in style with verve & attitude! Girl can hit them high notes! Bertha Oropeza of CHICO was spotted in the crowd, kicking up the chancla with her man, and joining the Gente in a celebration of love & music. Man...I LOVE when that feeling strikes, don't you?
Sunday is usually set aside for rest before going back to work on Monday, but being this was a holiday weekend (and one honoring Warriors at that), the spirit reached out & touched Cory Silva and Midnight Productions, who couldn't help but keep the party going at the Club Montebello (aka the Montebello Inn) with one of Aztlan's favorites, Danny Rios and SANGRIA.
By all accounts, the house was packed and the Gente let loose (...you had doubts?). With Internet Radio's Ray "Maloman" Roybal, and Internet TV's Richard "THEE MR." Duran hitting the dance floor with their Ladies, the buzz was all about singer-music promoter Cory Silva's upcoming marriage to his beautiful Lady, Diana. Cory even joined the band for a song , making it a perfect after-engagement-pre-wedding-party-holiday get together with just a couple hundred of his closest friends.
LatinoLA.com and the music world of Aztlan wishes Cory & Diana congratulations, and many years of happiness....and like Chicano music, may your love live forever, carnal!
And so...as I soak my feet under my desk at work, order out for lunch, and plan for a 4 day work week...I look forward to another trip through the musical boulevards of Aztlan, where the spirit of the Gente lives, the legacy of my people grows, and the music transforms itself into a kaleidescope of colors, movement, excitement and above all...love! We are all one tribe...we should share one love...and pass this on to our children, the way our ancestors dreamed!
Keep the peace, end Brown on Brown violence, stop the scourge of drugs & alcohol that is destroying our people...and always keep a song in your heart, that will chase needless envy from your mind!
...who knows where Frankie Firme will show up next?....only LatinoLA knows!!
Note : Joe Bataan will be returning to California August 13th for a blockbuster Oldies
concert ~ Produced by Ruben Molina in conjuction with Radio KUCR Riverside, for
more info, log onto www.mictlan.com
SATISFACTION : www.satisfactionband.com
East L.A. Revue All Stars Band : www.eastLArevue.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
Cory Silva : email@example.com
Frankie Firme welcomes all invitations, and plays the finest Chicano music on www.kclafm.com, and www.chicanoexpress.com