Trippin' to Texas - Part III
Ladies and Gentlemen: The Tejano R.O.O.T.S. Hall of Fame
As if waking up from a dream, Pepe Marquez & I lazily woke up to beautiful Tejano music, a wide awake, smiling Crazy Chuy Hernandez, and a glorious Texas morning.
Published on LatinoLA: November 23, 2005
Then, it hit us....only two more days till the Tejano R.O.O.T.S. Hall of Fame Awards Ceremony! The clock was ticking!
After a quick breakfast, it was into the studio for a 3 hour show with the one and only Crazy Chuy and Chicano Express Radio Show. Pepe and I were impressed with the energy, effort, and fun Chuy puts into his show, mixing interviews, wisecracks, announcements, sound bites, and music into a synergistic flow of the magic that is Chicano music.
Wow! Can this guy move, groove, and behoove you! You should see his footwork between songs!
3 hours went by like a snack, as we jived, laughed, and spotlighted music by Pepe, Aaron Ballesteros & APB, The East L.A. Revue, Chico, and The Company Band, along with the great Tejano music Chuy is known for. Steven Chavez was still away visiting with relatives in nearby Plano, so we wisecracked good heartedly about him being "missing" during the show, to which he appreciated later.
We met up later with Steven and Chuy's daughter Jessica for lunch in downtown Dallas, before packing up and heading back on the road for San Antonio and Alice. The excitement and adrenaline was running again, and we forgot how tiring 3 days on the road had been so far.
Traveling down the south 287 freeway through Texas is a long ride (...and we're talking LONG!), but the weather was great, traffic wasn't a problem, and between Crazy Chuy and his wife Janie, Pepe, Steven, and myself, we joked and jammed music all the way down to San Antonio as we caught one of the most impressive sunsets you ever saw.
(Believe it or not, we actually saw a herd of camels in a field off the road! Texas has EVERYTHING!)
Pulling into San Antonio at night is a beautiful kaleidescope of colors, sounds, and people, as the city is alive, and the radio stations are blaring Tejano sounds loud and clear. Hearing commercials of the Tejano R.O.O.T.S. Hall of Fame Awards on the radio made us began itch for next day as we pulled into the Hernandez home (Chuy's Aunt & Uncle) just outside of downtown San Anto, where we would bed down for the night. After a delicious homemade meal of chicken pozole (you KNOW I had 3 servings), I drifted off into a peaceful slumber, while the far off sounds of railroad trains took me to la-la land, and thoughts of my Lady waiting for me in L.A. drifted through my exhausted mind).
Waking up excitedly the next morning, we took a short tour of downtown San Antonio, visiting the Alamo, and the world renowned Three Rivers walk, which is a masterpiece of modern architecture in an old world city. After doing the open mouthed "wow...look at that!" tourist thing, it was quick goodbyes, hugs, and thanks to the Hernandez family as we headed off to our final destination: Alice, Texas.
Arriving a couple of hours early, we checked into our hotel rooms and began preparing for the big event, while nervously munching on a pizza, and asking Chuy a hundred questions. Steven & Pepe decked out in formal dark suits, while Chuy and I broke out in full Zoot Suits and tongos, Chuy sporting Stacy Adams, and me in a pair of black & white gangster bucks. (hate to brag...but we looked "da bomb"...gotta admit). Of course, Mrs Hernandez was dazzling in a formal dress. (She made Chuy look even better as they walked together!)
While we were "dude-ing up", we received a suprise visit from the one & only MaryAnn "DHOC" Gonzalez and her famous drummer husband Mario, who graciously agreed to escort us to the VFW Hall where the event was being held. Like a bunch of high school kids getting ready for the prom, we joked, laughed, teased, and dressed up "to the nines", with Steven Chavez's camera snapping away like he was on assignment for Time Magazine. (Our editor Abelardo De La Pe?a Jr. at "mission control" in L.A. had asked for a picture of Ms. DHOC for her outstanding articles in LatinoLA.com, and Steven was up to task....besides, Mario & MaryAnn are a striking couple to look at anyway!)
Arriving to a packed VFW Hall, we were greeted by Javier Villanueva and Juan Sifuentes Jr., who welcomed us warmly, and thanked us for coming. Chuy was immediately surrounded by friends and fans, camera flashes snapping like we were at the Academy Awards, as "The Godfather of Tejano Soul" proudly made his entrance, his lady at his side. That was impressive indeed...quite a moment!
Many people went out of their way to meet and greet Pepe Marquez, Steven Chavez and myself, and we were escorted to our table as The Ceremonies opened up to loud and thunderous applause.
To my pleasant suprise, Leo Saenz and The Latin Express Band opened up the music with a dedication to "Los Pachucos Locos de Chicano Music, and our honored guests from East L.A.", and broke out in a butt-kicking version of "Pachuco Boogie". (Not exactly a Tejano staple, but the crowd loved it, and these brothers jammed it like they cruised all the way from East L.A. with us, they were that good!)...had my Lady been with me, we would have been kicking up the chancla on the spot!
I was honored again to meet up with my good friend, legendary horn man Tony "Ham" Guerrero, his lovely wife Norma, their talented son, recording star Alfredo Guerrero and his date, model Excelina. A California home~girl from the website Tejanolive.net, Crissy
AKA "A Txn girl" came up and introduced herself, and Steven Chavez & Pepe Marquez were quick to make her a gift of our music we had brought along. Luckily, Steven and Pepe brought a surplus, as so many people came up to us to take pictures and let us know what fans they were of California Chicano music, and Steven and Pepe made gifts of their music to all that asked. Pepe was amazed at the following he has in Texas, thanks to Crazy Chuy, DHOC, and the wonderful Gente de Tejas, and almost everybody we met had heard of the East L.A. Revue and CHICO bands.
During the evening we were honored to meet The Serrata Brothers, Bobby 'El Charro Negro' Butler, Nicho Saenz, writer Daniel Lopez, members of the Latin Express Band, Chente Barrera, Lefty Ray, The Honorable Mayor of Alice, DJ Ritmo, and so many others.... but the biggest moment for me came when I was invited on stage with Crazy Chuy Hernandez to present awards to composer/singers Eddie Perez and Ramiro Sanchez.
To be the first non~Tejano to be given this privilege was an honor for me, and a memory I will take to my grave, the moment almost bringing tears to my eyes as Ramiro hugged me on stage and said "Thanks, Carnalito, I've heard about you".
Talk about a rush! Afterwards, Ramiro gave a great performance of one of his classic songs, then came over to me and thanked me again for presenting his award, while everybody watched. I was in Tejano heaven for a minute, while across the table, my good friend DHOC smiled and beamed with pride.(Thanks for being there, Hermana!)
To add the icing on the cake, Chuy & I, decked out in our full Zoot Suits, gave the crowd our "Chicano salute": we took a half step back, got into a gangster lean, heads tilted back, arms extended, and shouted "Orale!" to a loud applause as we boogied off stage como vatos locos mas de aquellas. (Pictures at www.eastLArevue.com). You should have been there!
All night, Tejano music stars "showed their stuff" to the utmost delight of the crowd, as The Latin Express Band back them up flawlessly, and the night ended up a beautiful musical memory for EVERYBODY! (I even scored on a Latin Express CD, which is playing as I write this piece).
That night, as we had a little impromptu gathering at our hotel room, DHOC convinced Pepe Marquez to do something he had been refusing me & Steven all trip: He sang a song off his unreleased CD just for our small party that had us all staring in wide eyed amazement ... homie is THAT talented, and you're gonna love his new CD! (DHOC is beautiful, and if she had asked me, I would have sang for her...but then she would have left the party, and we probably wouldn't be friends anymore! Ha!)
The trip back included a brief stop in San Antonio at the home of musician/music collector Robert Gonzalez and his lovely wife Dolores, who fed us a banquet for lunch, and made us a gift of some more musica de Tejas. The night before, our good friend author/music producer Ruben Molina had been in town for the reunion of Texas classic group The Royal Jesters at the Gonzalez home, and Robert gave us all the details of what we missed.
Texas was happening on this week~end in this part of Aztlan, Mi Gente!
Our last stop before heading back to L.A. was the home of Chuy & Janie Hernandez, where we exchanged heartfelt thank you's and good~bye's for a most memorable adventure, warm hospitality, and LOT'S of great food!
As I think about it now, the long (and I'm talking LONG) drive back to the Land of 1000 Dances is but a blur, with nothing eventful happening, gracias a Dios. We all made it back safe, with lots of new music, 5,768 miles and 6 1/2 days later.
Gracias Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas! Chicano music lives!!
Steven Chavez said he would check in with Abelardo at Mission Control LatinoLA, as I needed 2 days of sleep afterwards...and my Lady let me know she missed me!
And so mi Gente, this mission accomplished, another is in the planning stage...whatever, whenever or wherever it happens, you'll hear about it here, on LatinoLA.com!
....but not till next year, please!!!
Frankie Firme's website: www.frankiefirme.50megs.com