Ending the Year in Good Company

SFV's COMPANY Band makes it right

By Frankie Firme
Published on LatinoLA: January 3, 2007

Ending the Year in Good Company

Ahhh...the Land of 1000 Dances...southside Kali, on the west coast of Aztlan...the entertainment capital of the World, and home to some of the most beautiful people & music on Earth.

As always at this time of the year, I give thanks that I live in a land protected & cherished by the most mightiest & most loyal military force on the planet.

I give thanks that I have been blessed with health that has carried me through half a century plus...and all parts are still working!

I give thanks that I have been blessed with a great family, good friends, the CHICANO culture, and the fine music that represents us all.

That being said, 2006, although frought with many ups & downs for a lot of us, closed with a fortunate turn of events. There were some great music shows, dancing, and of course, good times for those who have always "kept it alive" by dressing up and stepping out onto the Brown side of town, enjoying the music & action that make life in my beloved Latino L.A. a "Brown thing" and ever lo mejor en el Mundo.

Artists like TIERRA, MALO, SAL RODRIGUEZ & WAR, SATISFACTION, THE EAST L.A. REVUE BAND, PEPE MARQUEZ, CHICO, APB, THE ROCKY PADILLA BAND, CORY SILVA, THE SOUL PURSUIT BAND, THE COMPANY BAND, SOTO, THE L.A. RHYTHM KINGS, MARVIN & JOHNNY, THE BLUES STRAIGHT UP BAND, SANGRIA, and ANTHONY PRIETO, to name a few, have kept it alive all year, helping the West Coast retain it's well deserved title of the "Land of 1000 Dances", performing for the Gente, rain or shine, all across the Land.

People like Steven Chavez & Hector Gonzalez of RAMPART RECORDS & The East L.A. Revue, Abelardo de la Pe??a Jr of LatinoLA/Mexican Cultural Institute, "Crazy Chuy" Hernandez of Texas's Chicano Express Radio, Ruben Molina of Mictlan Publishing, Luis Rodriguez of Tia Chucha's Cultural Center, the staff & management of The American Radio Network, the Inland Empire's Radio Aztlan, Latinbayarea.com, Steve Caudillo of the Lakewood Hop, Chuck Herrera of East Valle Promotions, Comedians Gilbert Esquivel & Rudy Moreno, Peter Jaramillo of the Jaramillo Entertainment Group, and Cable/Internet TV's Richard "THEE MR" Duran have helped me promote the music & artists of Aztlan locally, nationally, and around the globe with astounding success...

...and I am blessed to call them all my friends. These kind of blessings helped me bring 2006 to a mellow close, with a promising vision of 2007.

At this year's close, I was lucky enough to hook up with some old friends of mine, the pride of the San Fernando Valley, THE COMPANY BAND, featuring the "Diamond of the Valley", Ms. Becky Cordova, and ended the year with finesse and sore feet!

Becky has wowed everybody, and opened a lot of eyes this year by beating breast cancer, keeping her head up with that million dollar smile, and returning to the stage and her loyal fans after only 3 months of being diagnosed & treated. She has inadvertently become the poster child for this scourge of women's health, and has proven to be a role model to all of those who would mistakenly believe that diagnosis means the end of life. Not our girl Becky! Home~girl was able to hit the road in style, performing, and helping promote their CD "TCB~ Taking Care of Business", which has aired on mine & other Internet Radio shows with a most positive response. So positive, that band leader Eddie Garcia happily tells me they're heading back into the studio this spring to record their 2nd CD.

Funny...it was Eddie who tearfully called me earlier last year to break the news about Becky, while cancelling gigs temporarily, and now here he was, confidently chit-chatting happily on the phone with me discussing life, music, and good times like he and the COMPANY BAND had the World securely served in his favorite menudo bowl. Becky's recovery has certainly bolstered his attitude & confidence.

That kind of attitude & confidence is powerful and positive, and I wanted a little taste of that to end my year.

Hearing about my successful show at the Saddleback Lounge in Norwalk just 2 weeks prior with SATISFACTION, SOUL PURSUIT, PEPE MARQUEZ, and HANK CASTRO, Eddie invited me back to the Saddleback, where the COMPANY was scheduled to perform just one day before their much publicized New Year's Eve show with the West Coast Chicana Queen of Salsa, Leslie Paula.

"We won't have that much beef on stage, just us, THE COMPANY, but we'll give a great show for all the Gente, I promise, Frankie!", Eddie said.

...like I said, that kind of attitude & confidence is powerful...YOU GO, EDDIE!!

Arriving just before showtime, my Lady & I arrived to find a good sized crowd forming, with some familiar friends from the San Fernando Valley, along with other friends like "East L.A. Rey" from cable/internet TVs THEE MR. DURAN SHOW, all itching to catch the San Fernando Valley's finest in action.

Just like we knew, there was Becky (pictured), looking beautiful, smiling, helping set up & test equipment with her husband & band co-leader Ray Cordova, and looking like nothing was ever wrong, and she owned the World for the moment...which she does, with ALL of her fan's blessings, whenever she steps on stage...YOU GO, BECKY!!

By the second song, the COMPANY had the dance floor full, and it stayed that way for the rest of the night, as the house became packed. Along with Becky, vocalists Eddie Garcia, Issac Avila, and Ray Cordova shared the love and brought loud ovations from the crowd, as the COMPANY made Saturday night before New Year's Eve a party with their hard hitting mix of R & B, top 40, Oldies, Rock en Espanol, Rock & Roll, Disco & Funk.

Having fun & getting our boogie on big time, my Lady & I lost track of time, being almost suprised at closing, and not noticing that our good-looking grandparent feet were starting to get just a bit sore...

The next day was New Year's Eve, and I kicked myself for not getting advance tickets, as the LESLIE PAULA-COMPANY BAND New Year's Eve Show was sold out. (Not a suprise at all!)

The Goddess of Ritmo must have felt my lament, and sent good vibes across Aztlan to bring me luck. On a gamble, I called East Valle Promotion's Chuck Herrera to see if he could squeeze my Lady & I in.

"Hey! Not a problem, Frankie. Would you help us out & Emcee the show? We had some last minute changes...you know how that goes, tu sabes".

I WAS THERE IN A MINUTE!! Thanking Chuck and immediately agreeing, my Lady & I raced home to get dressed for what was probably the best show in the Land of 1000 Dances on this, the last night of 2006...

Arriving to the Hyatt Regency Hotel Grand Ballroom in Valencia just before showtime, it was obvious that Chuck Herrera & his staff had once again pulled out all the stops and provided the Gente with the best & finest of everything...which has become a trademark to the lucky Gente of the San Fernando Valley.

A luxury atmosphere that was lavishiously decorated, a generous 3-course gourmet dinner, champagne & party favors for all, 4 fully stocked bars (can you say "no waiting"?), a good looking formally dressed up crowd in the party mood, topped with 1st class service and one of the best concert sound systems and engineers in the World, let everybody know Chuck & Co. did it right!

All guests walked in to the powerful opening sounds of DJ FLACOMANIA, a popular staple of East Valle Promotion's well attended shows over the years, and a favorite of the San Fernando Valley's "Veterano" crowd.

As the show started I was musically introduced, and in turn introduced the COMPANY, who for the evening brought in some heavy artillery by having the brass section of TIERRA sit in. With Becky Cordova looking energetic & drop dead gorgeous (suprisingly, because of her hard driving gig the night before she showed no sign of wear & tear), the COMPANY "rocked da house" and packed the dance floor with happy Gente who were looking good & getting their boogie on. Vocalists Eddie Garcia & Issac Avila were also in top form as the COMPANY performed songs off their CD to the loud delight of the standing room only crowd, which included a large contingent of one of San Fernando's oldest Motorcycle/Social Clubs "Our gang", who set the tone for the evening as they boogied their nalgas off!

After another brief but well attended interlude by DJ FLACOMANIA, it was time to introduce the star of the evening and the West Coast's reigning Chicana Queen of California Salsa, the one and only LESLIE PAULA & her LATIN SOUL BAND.

Having worked with Leslie and her husband Anthony over the past 4 years at the Annual Oxnard Salsa Festival, where she has become one of the main headliners with an ever increasing international fan base, this was a honor and the highlight of the evening for me and everybody in the house, as I introduced my friends to the crowd who all came to their feet for the moment.

Backed up by a powerful 11 piece band & ensemble (including her father, renown percussionist Mike Gutierrez) which was already smokin', Leslie sensually strutted up on stage with her trademark killer smile that could melt the ice in your drink, took a breath & a half step back, jumped into dance, and let loose with her phenomenal voice that busted it wide open and proved once again to everybody within hearing distance why she has been dubbed the West Coast Chicana Queen of Salsa.

Keeping with the spirit of the moment, at the countdown and public declaration of "Happy New Year!", the band broke out into a salsa version of "Auld lang syne", which got us all out on the floor for the first dance of 2007.

As I looked around as my Lady & I were enjoying the moment, I saw DJ FLACOMANIA, members of the COMPANY BAND, and Chuck Herrera & all his staff of East Valle Promotions on the dance floor having a great time!

...and that, my friends, is how 2006 ended for me.

Ahhh...like I said...life in the Land of 1000 Dances. Happy New Year, Mi Gente!

Note: For more info on the Company Band, DJ Flacomania, or East Valle Promotions
call: (818)266-3180
and tell 'em you heard it from Frankie Firme & LatinoLA.com !

About Frankie Firme:
For the best Chicano Music in Aztlan & the World:
www.eastLArevue.com ~ www.chicanoexpress.com
e-mail: FrankieFirme@yahoo.com

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