Taste of the Old, New, & Best

A Southern Califas summer weekend to remember

By Frankie Firme
Published on LatinoLA: August 18, 2005

Taste of the Old, New, & Best

The music of Aztlan...who can deny that it's the best? I've been priviliged to meet people from different parts of the World in my musical quests, and I've noticed that once they've been exposed to the unique juxtaposition of Latin Soul, Oldies, Rock, Soul, and classic R & B music that epitomizes Califas as the Land of 1000 Dances, they become hooked on Chicano style musical tastes, with it's variations and "come hither" attraction.

....Works for me!

That being said, I had a recent musical summer week~end experience that I've just got to share! Check this one out, Mi Gente!

The weekend started on a Wednesday night, with the arrival of my good friend, the "Godfather of Tejano and Chicano Soul", Texas's "Crazy Chuy" Hernandez. As my invited guest, Chuy ,his Lady, & his son were given a tour of East L.A., joined me for breakfast at the Mercado, and midnite burgers at Tommie's, went shopping for Zoot suits at the Garment District in downtown L.A., was a guest on my Thursday night show, given a brief tour of Hollywood, then joined my Lady and I for dinner in the fabled city of Sylmar. His gift to us was a beautiful collection of some of the finest Tejano music I've ever heard, from his personal archives.

Friday night, my Lady & I traveled up the coast to the Chumash Casino in Santa Inez at the invitation of Santa Barbara singing sensation Mr. Pepe Marquez and his Lady. After a great dinner, we were treated to a great show that included The Original Lowriders (former members of L.A.'s original, legendary WAR), The Anthony Prieto Band, and Rocky Padilla. The show was hosted by Pepe Marquez and KUCR FM's Pablo "Tripp" Trevino. It was a colorful and memorable assemblage of talent and Gente under the surreal lights and backdrop of the Chumash Casino...a new spot I'll be coming back to. (...wasn't too unlucky , either!) I was again blessed with gifts of music from the performing artists. The highlight of the night was when Lee Oskar joined Anthony Prieto on stage for an impromptu jam session, ending with a unique version of "All day music".

After spending Friday visiting with familia, Chuy joined us at the Oxnard Salsa Festival over the week~end, where we were welcomed by Pablo Ortiz and about 50,000 of his closest friends, the beautiful Gente de Oxnard. I was priviliged to serve as one of the co~hosts and dance contest hosts. The 2 day festival featured such great acts as Nuestro, The L.A. Mambo Combo, Orquesta Charangoa, Johnny Polanco, and I was priviliged to introduce the Chicana Queen of California Salsa, Ms Leslie Paula and her Latin Soul Band.Once again, the Gente de Oxnard were marvelous and generous hosts!

Saturday night found us traveling up the coast again to the beautiful seaside town of Carpinteria, again at the gracious invitation of Pepe Marquez, where a block party attended by about 300 of Pepe's friends enjoyed a live performance by Pepe and his band, the Flashbacks. Pepe and the band (which includes a 4 piece horn section known as the "Ghetto blasters") were absolutely "in da zone", filling the street with dancers and merry goers, as they knocked everyone back into adolescent synergy with hard hitting Oldies, Cumbias, Disco, Tex~Mex, and Rock & Roll. The Gente de Carpinteria were most gracious hosts, offering my Lady & I food & drink at every opportunity (when we weren't out there gettin' our boogie on!), and there was NO shortage of either!

...Needless to say, Santa Barbara~Carpinteria rocks! They were GOOD to us! Mil gracias!

After day 2 of the Oxnard Salsa Festival, Sunday afternoon caught us traveling south to hometown L.A., where BB King's hosted the "Rocky Padilla & Friends Concert & tribute to WAR". Opening up the show was L.A.'s premier dance group, the great SATISFACTION Band. Putting on a stellar performance, SATISFACTION earned more than one standing ovation. Lead singers Robert & Eileen Benavides never sounded better, and guitarist Chris Reserva proved once again why he is a master of his trade.

Next, showing his stuff for the L.A. crowd, Anthony Prieto and his band wowed everybody with hard hitting latin brass, crooning and sensual stage moves. Another Santa Barbara sensation, Anthony joins Pepe Marquez in putting Santa Barbara on the musical map! Both these guys are talented, yet, humble & classy. I have been ever so priviliged to meet and make friends with these two upcoming stars.

Closing off the show with more than a bang, Rocky Padilla and friends, an all star Chicano music assemblage that included TIERRA greats Steve Salas and Bobby Loya, sax master John Burrola, and many others, simply took the crowd to another blissful level. Steve Salas delivered a beautiful message promoting education & carnalismo before giving a memorable rendition of his trademark tune "Together", that filled the dance floor & aisles.

As if that wasn't enough, the band called up Pepe Marquez & Anthony Prieto on stage for the finale, joining singers Steve Salas & Rocky Padilla. Sitting in the crowd joining me were Steven Chavez of the East L.A. Revue, Crazy Chuy Hermnandez, and members of the SATISFACTION band. We were all in open mouth awe as we were treated to an unexpected, never before heard, unrehearsed, all star rendition of "All day music", with Steve, Rocky, Pepe and Anthony all taking turns hitting a solo vocal roll, while the 11 piece band "brought it home". Also sitting in the crowd were members of the Original Lowriders (who, for legal reasons, were unable to perform) and promoter Tripp Trevino. They were all beaming with pride as the music brought everybody to their feet in a show of love & appreciation, proving the timelessness of good music.

Afterwards, after all the artists took the time to meet & greet him, we all had to say goodbye to Crazy Chuy & his family, as they headed back to Texas. Chuy's arms were filled with gifts of music from all the artists, as they all thanked him for joining me in keeping the music alive.

Tired, but musically fulfilled, my Lady and I trudged back home after an unbelievable week~end. In my closing act of the day, I went to check the mail, and as if I hadn't been blessed enough with the gift of beautiful West Coast musica , I find packages from some of the coolest talent pools in the San Francisco~Oakland Bay Area: Mic Gillettes's new CD "Ear Candy" and the new (Tower of Power inspired) group "Hip Service".

Talk about California Soul music! Some of the best you're gonna hear this summer!

Wow... as I listen to these great new CD's (which I highly recommend you pick up), enjoy the warm summer breezes de Califas while sipping on a cold one...

... I ask myself...can it really get any better in the Land of 1000 Dances?

I don't think so!...but then...who knows where Frankie Firme will show up next?....

About Frankie Firme:
Frankie Firme's website: www.frankiefirme.50megs.com

e~mail: FrankieFirme@yahoo.com

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