A Little Satisfaction Goes a Long Way

The Satisfaction Band and friends rock the Norwalk Ramada Inn...again!

By Frankie Firme
Published on LatinoLA: July 5, 2006

A Little Satisfaction Goes a Long Way

By now, we're all getting used to the idea that it's Summer 2006 in the Land of 1000 Dances.

The temperature hovers around 100 or better, gas prices have suprisingly gone down (a little), kids are out of school, and although it won't EVER get good again, freeway traffic in L.A. is just a little bit lighter for a brief moment, as some of us are lucky enough to get to join the kids on vacation and don't have to punch a clock for a while.

Entertainment venues are popping up at beaches, parks, and carnivals throughout the land, joining established and new clubs in bringing out the best in Chicano Music and entertainment talent for those of us who enjoy steppin' out and tasting the winds of Aztlan and the free World. (the latter provided by the finest and bravest military forces on the planet, of course!)

Shows are being planned, scheduled, and talked about, as word spreads that it's happening in the Land of 1000 Dances.

Bands like ACE, CHICO, and Bob De Sena & his Latin Jazz Group are performing on the 4th of July at different locations. The Soul of Aztlan show happens July 8th. The Gilbert Esquivel Old School Comedy & Dance Show happens July 14th.

SOTO, MELINDA DEL TORO, & the BARELA Band come to the Santa Fe Springs Swap Meet the weekend of July 15th-16th.

SLY, SLICK, and WICKED, TIERRA, ROCKY PADILLA, CORY SILVA, LOOKS1 P10, MELINDA DEL TORO, and Hank Castro come together and rock the southland like only the best can on July 16th.

The Salesian Rock & Roll show happens July 29th, and the grand~daddy of them all, the legendary Annual Oxnard Salsa Festival happens July 29th and 30th, bringing together salseros from different corners of the World.

Whew! And that's just July! I am ever so fortunate to live in the Land of 1000 Dances!

Bringing in the first full month of Summer were of course, one of L.A.'s tightest Chicano Music groups, the great SATISFACTION band of Southern California, at one of L.A.'s tightest spots, the Saddleback Lounge at the Norwalk Ramada Inn.

Featuring the gorgeous Natali Renee Hernandez at lead vocals (pictured), this group has become known as one of the best in land, easily adaptable to any situation or venue, and music artist friendly, as their ability to invite and jam with some of today's best in L.A. has become a trademark.

They put on one of the best dance/show/concert performances in the land, that's for sure, and if you haven't yet caught them in action, you are missing out on a most memorable experience in contemporary Chicano music.

And CHICANO Music, like Brown women and fine wine, just keeps getting better with time!

That being said, it was one of those hot, mellow, Southern Califas summer evenings that simply seduce you into steppin' out last Saturday as my Lady and I, joined by some good friends, stepped out to cop a little fresh air and SATISFACTION.

As always, these guys and a gal are always gracious in personally welcoming as many guests as they can, and tonight's audience was a standing room only, packed house of good looking Gente that danced in the aisles when the dance floor was full. After each set, they mingled among the audience, and gave the evening that "familia" ambience that we all cherish so much. They make every appearance a party that you feel personally invited to.

It just gets THAT good!

Tonight, they welcomed guest musicians Steve Falomir (APB, TIERRA) at bass guitar, and John Lopez (Westside Crew) at keyboards, and it was on! As expected, the SATISFACTION Band made their guests part of the family, and the music was as sweet, Brown, and cookin' as you would have expected. My sore feet the next morning are testament to that!

Unannounced, suprise guests included East L.A. Chicano Music icons Willie and Susan Mondragon (parents of Billy & Eric Mondragon, of TIERRA and Down With 3 fame), and Thee Midniter's legendary drummer and founding member George Salazar.

I haven't seen Willie Mondragon perform since last year at the Edward James Olmos movie "Walkout" wrap party , and although I've heard the many stories, and heard many recordings, I've never had the pleasure of seeing him perform with his talented wife Susan. Playing bass guitar, Willie first joined SATISFACTION in a ripping, shake-your-nalgas version of Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode", with Chris "Little Santana" Reserva simply ripping the roof off the Ramada at lead guitar that brought him a loud, standing ovation a mid-song.

Nothing new for Chris, as he has become known as one of the best in L.A. today.

Then, after graciously asking the band's and the audience's permission (which was granted unanamously), Willie called his lovely Lady Susan off the packed dance floor to join them in a hard knocking, booty shaking duet version of Rufus Thomas's "Walking the dog" that brought out the nostalgic boogie urges in everyone. Susan blew everyone away with her singing and dancing like I've heard she has done for over 30 years, re-establishing her place as one of the "big kids" of Eastside Chicano Rock & Roll, and introducing herself and Willie to some new fans.

Watching these two in action, easily dancing, performing, and interacting with each other and SATISFACTION on stage as if they had rehearsed a 1000 times before, I was once again touched with a moment of pride and appreciation for the wonderful talent of my people, as their voices and the music blended in perfect harmony, and WE ALL scored on this spontaneous, unannounced, and totally unexpected blast from the past.

My Lady and I joined the audience in giving up an ear deafening, appreciative applause as these legends of Chicano Music walked off stage hand in hand, smiling like 2 teenagers in love...good music does that to the soul, you know!

Then, seizing upon the moment, lead singer Robert Benavides (whom I've now dubbed the "Frank Sinatra~Elvis-Rick James of Chicano Soul") called George Salazar off the packed dance floor to join them on drums for a sweet version of Thee Midniter's classic "That's All". As he's done since the original 1965 recording, George's performance was flawless, and the audience welcomed him loudly with nothing but love.

Getting better and more commanding each time he performs it, Robert's emotional and soul scorching rendering of this Eastside classic always packs the dance floor with smoochers (yours truly included), and when Jimmy Silva hits that sweet, smooth sax solo his way,...
...oooh~wee! You can almost feel people melting into each other, as the band simply hypnotizes you into a romantic dream~like state, while Robert puts the icing on the cake and the carne in your tacos with his heart stopping, mouth dropping open, wow-did-you-hear-that?, vocal roll at the end of the song that brought tears to some people's eyes.

Home~boy is THAT good!

Not one to let "a moment" get by her, Natali Renee jumped back on stage before the thunderous applause died down and easily whipped the band into a sizzling Tina Marie dance medley that raised the temperature a few degrees higher as she sang, smiled, danced, and captured hearts as she once again filled the dance floor with her dazzling stage presence and killer smile.

Home~girl is THAT good!

Just to make sure she won't let the Gente ever forget her in the Land of 1000 Dances, Natali performed the Etta James classic "At last" with deep, sensous, baby-come-get-me soul, dedicating it to my Lady and I, matching Robert with her own eye opening, sweet vocal roll a the end of the song ...and the evening ended with the hypnotic swaying of beautiful Brown people embraced in a magical moment of Chicano Music in the heart of Aztlan, in the Land of 1000 Dances, on a most memorable evening on the West Coast of the finest Country in the World.

...and THAT, my friends, is what you call an entertainment experience!

And so...who knows where Frankie Firme will show up next?...keep yourself connected to LatinoLA for the latest on the greatest in the Land of 1000 Dances, Southside Kali, Aztlan. If it's not here, it's not happening!

It's a BROWN thing, Baby! What can I say?

Note: For more info on the SATISFACTION Band > www.satisfactionband.com

For more info on George Salazar and his new group MIDNITES MOON: www.midnitesmoon.com

Willie & Susan Mondragon are working on a new CD that you will hear about first here, on LatinoLA.com

For more info & details on the many mentioned events in this article, check out the calendar page here on LatinoLA or e-mail: stevenchavez68@hotmail.com

About Frankie Firme:
Frankie Firme is the Al Capone of the microphone and The Hitman of West Coast Chicano Soul.
website: www.frankiefirme.50megs.com

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