The Love of the Gente Brown

Joe Bataan returns to Aztlan on Cinco de Mayo

By Frankie Firme
Published on LatinoLA: May 9, 2006

The Love of the Gente Brown

A happy belated Cinco de Mayo 2006 to you all. The Chicano Holiday week~end in L.A. came and went, and was enjoyed by all with no major negative headlines evident, as expected by the media...I'm always so glad to report that!

Music, dancing, and good times were had by all. Oscar De la Hoya , a Chicano from East L.A., is back on top of the boxing world. The weather was beautiful, and the Land of 1000 Dances was alive with action and love...like always.

...and LatinoLA was there!

The Lakewood Hop was the place to be this weekend, thanks to Steve Caudillo and company, with 4 days of celebratory events that kept the Gente local, happy, and united.

There's just that special "something" about good people, good food, ice cold drinks, good service, and good entertainment, combining with a comfortable & classy atmosphere, that makes for memorable times...and Steve Caudillo and staff put all that together in another fine example of what makes the Land of 1000 Dances, Southside Kali, so special, and so memorable.

Thursday night, after my radio show, it was off to the Lakewood Hop, where the Kings of West Coast Chicano music, TIERRA, gave another well attended, killer performance that had the Gente partying and dancing till closing.

Friday night, Mariachi Los Canarios and Xposure lit up the Gente for a rousing Cinco De Mayo celebration that included a fine dinner, and of course, lots of dancing and merry making.

Saturday night, the East Side faithful gathered to watch Oscar De La Hoya represent in a title bout that was televised on 22 monitors and a wide screen, and the place went wild when it was over!

But Sunday night, when most people were resting up and getting ready for back-to-the-real-World Monday, Steve Caudillo & company pulled out all the stops, providing a delicious gourmet prime rib/baked chicken dinner, drink specials, and brought on stage Chicano music's beloved JOE BATAAN all the way from New York, with one of Southern Kali's most popular openers, the one & only SATISFACTION, that made it hard to believe this was Sunday night in L.A., and so many people stepped out for one last party.


I was honored to be asked to co-host the evening with The Latin Style of Jazz Radio Show host Eric "Chico" Manqueros, for a packed, standing room only crowd... and that crowd was LOOKING GOOD!

With DJ Tony Miranda, one of L.A.'s best, at the helm, the place was alive and crackin' as soon as the doors opened. The electricity in the environment was palable from the moment my Lady & I walked in. The aroma of delicious food was in the air, while DJ Tony set the opening mood with some fine music, as the Gente made a grand entrance to each other, with respect and admiration for one another evident and aknowleged openly.

Puro RAZA to the bone! Chicano Royalty, if you will.

A large contingent of some of the most beautiful classic cars on the planet (aka "bombas mas firme") from the Car Clubs THE PHAROAHS, CLASSIC MEMORIES, and OLD MEMORIES, lined the entrance to the Hop, and the Gente were "dressed to impress".

A warm and comfortable Southern Califas spring breeze caressed everybody's face as they entered the realm of the Brown. It was quite an impressive sight, indeed, if you've never been to a truly CHICANO happening in the Land of 1000 Dances. If you like "Old School", this was the University de Aztlan tonight!

I was happy & privileged to get the call to open up the show and introduce my good friends, the SATISFACTION BAND, but I was more than excited when I found out that Eileen Benavides was stepping up out of retirement for the evening, filling in for a temporarily indisposed Natali Renee. Although many of Natali's fans were on hand and missing her, none of them left disappointed , thanks to the band's well known reputation for overcoming adversity.

Like she never left, Eileen sparkled like the beloved jewel de Aztlan that she is, singing, dancing, and flashing that million dollar smile of hers, accompanying the band through their well admired stage act. Daddy Robert Benavides was in "the zone" as he welcomed his mija back, and SATISFACTION got the dance floor full by their third song.

Chris Reserva reinforced his well deserved "Lil' Santana" moniker by laying down some superb guitar rifts & solos, at one point drawing loud roars of approval (and a couple of "ooohs") when he jumped up on a table and simply "gave it up" during the height of the band's performance. Of course, the rest of the band showed the crowd why they are one of the best in the burrito circuit by dazzling the crowd with solos and showmanship. Weither it's Natali or Eileen, SATISFACTION truly satisfies.

After a brief stint by DJ Tony Miranda, who kept it alive with his mix of Old School & Oldies, it was "time"....

As Chico Manqueros came on stage to introduce the Raza All Star Band (an East Coast-West Coast mixture of talented musicians that included such West Coast L.A. legends as Bobby Loya, Bobby Navarrette, and Rocky Padilla, and which also included Joe Bataan's lovely wife Yvonne at vocals), the crowd got to their feet and inched toward the stage, erasing whatever space was left for a dance floor. The moment had come...

After a wicked opening instrumental, Chico Manqueros then introduced Joe Bataan, who came on stage to a roaring welcome of applause that he aknowleged as a "welcome home" that the Raza de Aztlan has always bestowed upon him.

Giving up accolades to the band, the crowd, and conveying a message of the love of God, it was on!

Joe Bataan was in his element! If you missed it, you truly missed out!

Showing why he is still one of the most beloved performers in Chicano Music, Joe Bataan and the Raza All Star Band hit one classic song after another, and gave up a couple of new ones that had everybody dancing and singing along. At some points, Joe took some of the fans to tears with his emotional and inspiring words and dedications, touching everybody with love before he & the band took the crowd to higher levels all night long with each passing song. During his performance, Joe mingled & mixed with the audience, occassionally aknowleging friends and giving birthday & anniversary shout outs.

I ran into THEE MIDNITERS great George Salazar & his wife Lisa, "East L.A. Rey" Garza, Ernie Pintor of the Lil' Bit of Soul Band, KUCR FM's Christina Chavez, along with Steve Caudillo and the members of the SATISFACTION Band, all getting their boogie on and having a good time on the crowded dance floor.

Rumors had it that Steven Chavez and Richard "THEE MR." Duran were in the crowd, but it was so thick, I couldn't verify it. So many of my radio show fans also came up and introduced themselves to me, that it was like being at family gathering. I met so many beautiful people, and was having such a good time, I didn't want the night to end!

Good food, good drinks, great entertainment at a great spot, dancing with my Lady on Cinco de Mayo weekend surrounded by my Gente and nothing but love, in the palace that is the Lakewood Hop ...

...can it get any better? You bet your sweet tamales it can!

"You ain't seen nothing yet, Brother" Steve Caudillo proudly beamed as my Lady & I bid him & his Lady goodnight..."Keep your eyes open, we will be doing this again!"

...and LatinoLA will be looking! We invite you all to join us!

note: For info on upcoming shows and special events at the Lakewood Hop, log onto
http://www.lakewoodhop.com or call (562) 630-2229, and ask for Steve Caudillo.

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

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