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Happy Holidays Dance de Aztlan

La Raza rocks Norwalk & opens the holiday season

By Frankie Firme
Published on LatinoLA: December 21, 2006


Happy Holidays Dance de Aztlan


Damn !...talk about a pleasant way to open up the Holiday Season in the Land of 1000 Dances, MY WAY....with great music, lots of dancing, real good people, and no pedo!!

It happened this past Friday, where it was on at the Saddleback Inn (formerly the Norwalk Ramada Inn) as some of Aztlan's best came together for a sold out, standing room only show that saw people turned away as early as 11:00 pm, and the house bar actually running out of some booze! (YOU KNOW it's on when THAT happens!)

After a couple of personal setbacks that had me pretty much calling it a year as far as live shows are concerned, I received a call from the SATISFACTION Band's famed guitarist, Chris ("Little Santana") Reserva, inviting me to join them for a show and to bring in some "big guns" for a blow-out party that would signal the start of Holiday Season 2006 in the Land of 1000 Dances, puro West Coast Aztlan style...something that had me considering changing my mind about my self-imposed, temporary retirement for 2006...

..."Let's get together, have some fun before Christmas, call in some good talent, and put on a kick ass show for the people, Frankie! It's been a tough year for a lot of people, man, but we both still have faithful fans that have kept us in this madness that is our music...they deserve this one ! Whadda ya say, homie? Are you up to it?" (Not just because they're personal friends of mine, but, consider that somebody like Chris Reserva & the SATISFACTION band don't invite & challenge you out of the blue like this if they don't think you're worth it!... I hate when that happens! God, friends are hard to say "no" to)

Hmmm...only 4 weeks to prepare, promote, and put on a dance-show on a Friday night in L.A., at the height of Christmas shopping season, considering L.A. traffic, shopping Mothers (a VERY ruthless, dangerous, & predatory animal around this time of the year! Beware of them in Mall parking lots!), L.A. cops & highway patrol zealously working overtime, other top drawing names like TIERRA, Rudy Moreno, SUAVE, and THE COMPANY band staying close to home and doing gigs they planned months ago the very same weekend, my own personal life, and the personal lives of some others I was thinking about imposing on just a week before Thanksgiving, along with the cold, rainy weather that keeps ME inside this time the year...

..."I don't know Chris...let me call some people..." Was my reply.

"No problem! Lets do this!!" was his quick reply. "Call me back as you can!"

..."What have I gotten myself into?" was my first thought.

I called my friend and agent, RAMPART Records President/Music promoter Steven Chavez, and explained what Chris was asking for. "Oh yeah, Chris Reserva & SATISFACTION...nice guy...great guitar player...tight band...good idea..." He said. I explained my worries and all other factors considered, especially our time frame.

"Not a big problem...a couple of hard spots, but hell, Frankie, let's do this! Whatever you need, I'm there! I'll even have it recorded", was Steven's quick reply...I got a little more motivated...

I called one of the more popular West Coast Chicano singers in Aztlan, my friend Pepe Marquez. Despite living in Santa Barbara, having a busy personal life and gig schedule coming off the success of his latest CD "Dance Mamacita", he remains approachable, and is a true professional to work with. I invited him to join us. To my suprise, he was currently working with another of L.A.'s top dance bands, SOUL PURSUIT (pictured), and asked me to invite them also. "Hey, brother, I love SATISFACTION, and I love all the tight Gente in L.A. You guys have always been good to me...count me in! Here's SOUL PURSUIT's number. They're a tight band. Lets do this!" ...I was beginning to get a tingle...

I called SOUL PURSUIT's drummer and bandleader, Fred Magallanes. Luckily, Fred had sat in as drummer at a charity show I had done with the East L.A. Revue Band and Pepe Marquez earlier this year, so we weren't strangers. SOUL PURSUIT has built up a pretty good local reputation in L.A., have a busy gig schedule, and I wasn't sure they would be available.

..."Not a problem," Fred said easily. "We had an offer for another gig for that date, but they haven't called back to confirm. We've never gigged with SATIFACTION before, but everybody's heard of them, you, and of course, Pepe Marquez. Sounds like fun, Frankie...let's do this! Count us in".

(I almost felt sorry for the guy that didn't call them back...not TOO sorry, tu sabes!)

...Wow! 2 of L.A.'s hottest party bands, Pepe Marquez, me at DJ & MC, and with RAMPART Records recording the whole thing...now I was on a full blown buzz! Before I called Chris Reserva back, I thought, what the hell, it's my last show of 2006, let's push the envelope...

...I called up & coming Chicana diva, Melinda Del Toro, at Steven Chavez & Chris Reserva's advice...would you believe it, she was available and very enthused about joining us when I contacted her sister Marisol, who is also her manager.

Now I'm ready to call Chris back, I thought. What a show! (In theory, at least...)

I called Chris back the next day, told him who I had been lucky enough to bring on board for this one, and he suprised me by telling me he had been able to get former THEE MIDNITERS lead singer, veteran HANK CASTRO, also on board. Now I know we had a good show!

With less than 4 weeks till showtime, everybody got ready, rehearsed, and the word spread throughout Aztlan that we had a show coming up. My buzz turned to concern, and I thought, "Can we pull off a succesful gig in this short of a time?"...hmmm...time to worry!

By the night of showtime, my worry turned to gladness, as I arrived early to find almost everybody there 2 hours before showtime, setting up and feeling good. RAMPART Record's CEO & owner HECTOR GONZALEZ personally supervised the sound booth and recording operation.(As a Emmy award winning soundman, you couldn't ask for anybody better!)

A good size crowd was expected due to advance ticket sales, the stage was set... and the Saddleback came to life as the doors opened.

After a brief welcoming DJ spot of mellow music, I introduced SOUL PURSUIT in a musical opening monologue that warmed up the crowd, and got them ready to party!

SOUL PURSUIT, made up of members Fred Magallanes at drums & vocals, Steve Estrada at bass guitar, Danny Cordova at lead guitar, Ernie Estrada at keyboards, special guest "Conga Ray" Ybarra at congas & percussion, Alexa Robinson and Dale "Motown" Moten at vocals, took over easily and got the Gente dancing with their hot mix of top 40, disco, and oldies. The band was impressive and in fine form from the start, and got hotter as they introduced special guest star, singer Pepe Marquez.

Pepe came on stage to a loud ovation and belted out his style of music that kept the dance floor packed, as he and SOUL PURSUIT performed flawlessly, raising the temperature in the now standing room only crowd. Showing why he's one of Aztlan's best of today, Pepe answered the crowd's loud demand and sang his original tune from his latest CD "Dance Mamacita" that even got me & Steven Chavez out on the floor with our ladies. SOUL PURSUIT closed their set with a beautiful oldies mix, with Fred Magallanes smoothly introducing the band members one by one to a loud ovation.

After another brief DJ set, and a quick raffle that yielded some nice music electronics as door prizes, it was back to the live music, as the stars of the night, the SATISFACTION Band took the stage to earspliting applause.

Their first set brought out guest singers Melinda Del Toro (who wowed everybody), Hank Castro (who proved he still has a place among the "big boys" of rock & roll, as he brought out the screams in the ladies ), and finally a guest/return appearance of SATISFACTION's former lead singer, Eileen Benavides, who showed she hasn't lost a thing!

After a brief break, it was pure SATISFACTION, and the dance floor stood full till closing.

As always, SATISFACTION was in "the zone", Robert Benavides singing and dancing his heart out for his grateful fans, Chris Reserva simply making mouths drop open with his masterful guitar playing, guest artists Steve Falomir (TIERRA fame) at bass, and WESTSIDE CREW's John Lopez at keyboards, Ralp Orozco at drums, Jimmy Silva at sax and percussion, and Natali Hernandez on vocals. SATISFACTION truly satisfied...as they ALWAYS do!

Moving amongst the crowd, I ran into many fans, friends, both on & off the dance floor. I spotted BLUES STRAIGHT UP singer Lava Gonzalez, CHICO's Bertha Oropeza, MIDNITE MOON's (and original THEE MIDNITERS founding members) Benny Lopez and George Salazar, Tony "Beaver" Carrol (of JAGUARS, EAST L.A. REVUE Band, and now a member of MIDNITE's MOON), Cable TV's "East L.A. Rey" Garza, and many other friends, all out on the dance floor and having a ball!

Extra security was provided by members of the OLD MEMORIES Car Club of Los Angeles.

Rumors had Marvin Spencer (of Marvin & Johnny fame), LatinoLA's Abelardo de la Pena, singer Cory Silva, JEG's Peter Jaramillo, and brother Internet DJ's "Crazy Chuy" Hernandez and Ray "Maloman" Roybal in the crowd, but it was so crowded, I missed them and a couple of others. Sadly, because of fire codes and the large, sold out crowd, some latecomers had to be turned away...for which I apologize for...and we will make it better the next show!

The show was recorded, and will broadcast in part on www.eastLArevue.com in the near future. (For info, contact stevenchavez68@hotmail.com)

Amd a special THANK YOU goes out to our "Ladies of the evening", "Cousin" Judy Bustamante and Ms. Lydia Dominguez for serving as hostesses and welcoming committee, making everybody feel at home and everybody had a good time till closing.

...Some of you missed a GREAT show!!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS ~ and we'll catch you at the next one in 2007!!

About Frankie Firme:
Frankie Firme thanks you all for your support of over 7 years at kclafm.com and invites you to check out his last 2 live shows with Peter "Sock it to me" Jaramillo Dec 21st & 28th




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