Never Unsatisfied in the Land of 1000 Dances

Pepe Marquez returns to L.A. to help out some friends

By Frankie Firme
Published on LatinoLA: April 6, 2006

Never Unsatisfied in the Land of 1000 Dances

Having a good times in the Land of 1000 Dances is always good. Sharing them with friends is even better.

Having good times, sharing them with friends, while helping friends out in the face of a crisis , can only result in a good memory.

That being said, here's a memory I'd like to share with you. It may repeat itself in the future, so you might want to keep this one in mind. Check it out:

As almost everyone in L.A. knows, one of the hotter Chicano Music groups in Aztlan is the popular & talented SATISFACTION band.

With their high energy, wide versatility, and stimulating stage performances, they have earned "Top Dawg" honors , and are in high demand. They have also become known as a classy group of people off stage, always approachable, always professional.

One of their trademarks has always been their top notch bi-lingual vocals, provided by the now legendary father-daughter duo of Robert and Eileen Benavides. Electrifying
on stage, the SATISFACTION band is well known for their almost unequaled ability to go from different genres of music in 2 languages in mid song without missing a beat.

When Eileen recently stepped down , a question of the group's staying power crossed few people's minds, but SATISFACTION proved they were more than up to the task, with Robert Benavides, Chris Reserva, Jimmy Silva, Ralph Orozco, Art Alvarado, and Ruben Martinez proving time and again why they are one of the best, easily performing without a female lead, or blending perfectly with guest artists.

Recently, they were joined by the lovely and talented Natali Rene, a Lady who has helped take the group's performances up a notch, not taking away from Eileen Benavides's legacy, but adding an exciting flavor to SATISFACTION, while she establishes a legacy of her own. Keeping in step up front on stage with Robert, Chris, and Jimmy, while filling a void is not an easy task.

Natali fits like a glove, the task has been conquered,and the band continues to enjoy success.

With that in mind, one would question what would happen if another member had to step off? Especially one of the front guys?

Recently, that unexpected moment came to pass. The established lead singer of the group, Robert Benavides, had to cancel an appearance for important, unexpected, personal reasons.

With less than 12 hours to find a replacement, SATISFACTION called out to our good friend from Santa Barbara, singer Pepe Marquez for some help.

Still basking in the glow of his successful CD release party the week before attended by members of the SATISFACTION Band, Pepe returned the love and came down to the Land of 1000 Dances to help out.

With no time to rehearse, and no previous performing experience with Natali or the SATIISFACTION Band, Pepe arrived at the Santa Anita Country Club in Arcadia just 2 hours before showtime, ready to get down.

My Lady and I arrived in the middle of an electrifying set as Natali, Pepe, Jimmy Silva and Chris Reserva were struttin' their stuff on stage to an excited dance floor.

It was a truly fine performance, and one would have gotten the impression that Natali and Pepe had been with SATISFACTION for a while.

Easily taking turns at lead vocals, Pepe and Natali followed the band flawlessly, blending vocal harmonies with Jimmy Silva like it was planned.

I was impressed when I noticed Pepe take some liberties and give up some ad lib moments, only needing eye contact with drummer Ralph Orozco and bassist Art Alvarado
to change gears in mid song, as he added "A Pepe flavor" to some songs. Like true professionals, Natali and the rest of the group jumped right on in like it was on schedule,everybody smiling, everybody having a good time.

Afterwards, I spoke with Pepe who told me he was complimented to have been invited to join SATISFACTION for a gig. "I've seen them perform so many times, and I've always wanted to get a chance to jam with them someday. The band members treated me well, made me feel welcome, and let me take some chances. Natali is a great singer, and she really supported me and made me feel like part of the group. I had a ball, and I would do again in a heartbeat if they ever asked me again".

I also got a chance to speak with the band members afterwards. "Wasn't Pepe just great?" Jimmy Silva asked. I agreed. That was an unexpected, unannounced, and totally enjoyable performance.

Chris Reserva told me "When we realized we needed a male vocalist at the last minute, I immediately thought of Pepe, after catching his act last week in Santa Barbara. I ran the idea by the guys, and they said 'call him'. Pepe came through in a pinch with a little more than we expected, especially with no rehearsal. He is really good, and a classy guy besides. I would like to jam with him again". All the band members agreed. The respect & love between performers was noticeable at the end of the night.

And so, the night ended with SATISAFACTION putting on another stellar performance for the Gente, getting through a tough spot, and my Lady and I going home with sore feet and smiles, like we do after every SATISFACTION gig we go to.

Thanks, Pepe, and once again, welcome to the Land of 1000 Dances, Carnalito!

...Don't you just love a happy ending?

Note: for info on the SATISFACTION Band or Pepe Marquez:
www.satisfactionband.com www.pepemarquez.com

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

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