News from the Brown Side of Town -1.23.07

Happenings in the Land of 1000 Dances

By Frankie Firme
Published on LatinoLA: January 23, 2007

News from the Brown Side of Town -1.23.07

Orale, mi gente! Another good weekend in Aztlan has come & gone.

I must be missing something, or I'm just lucky, or the Goddess of Ritmo has chosen me to be the voice of Aztlan, reporting just the good stuff in the Land of 1000 Dances that has come my way...and thus, yours, here on LatinoLA.

I'm just not experiencing or witnessing all the terrible stuff I saw on the Sunday night news this weekend. I mean, the price of gas still sucks, traffic in L.A. has never been worse, my heart still aches when I think about our guys over in Iraq , and having 2 teen aged step sons still in high school keeps my hair white, and my wallet a little lean.

But when I look at the "big picture" as far as my world turns, I join the Gente Brown from Aztlan in just takin' it a day at a time...and making each day count.

This week's News is dedicated to a friend & neighbor of mine named Nacho.

Like me & my Lady, Nacho & his wife Anna are hard working, dedicated Brown parents & grandparents, "slightly" over 45 (let's leave it at THAT, please!), and survivors in Aztlan. I like the guy. He likes my music, all the great Chicano artists, respects his woman, and takes care of his business & family. A proud Chicano... We got a lot in common, me & Nacho... except one thing....

Recently, Nacho's youngest daughter got married and left for her honeymoon. Being the last of 3 to leave home, Nacho's fallen into a mild depression caused by the "empty nest" syndrome. He & his daughter were tight...

Catching Nacho sitting on his front porch last night, I wandered over to say hello & chit chat with the homie. He complained of missing his daughters and being bored. "Is this what it's like to get old, Frankie?" he asked.

"Not if you don't want it to be, Carnal", I replied. I reminded him that he & Anna had made a great life being married almost 30 years, had raised 3 beautiful daughters, had a nice house, a good job, and he & his wife were not struggling to make ends meet as they both worked, they suffered no physical handicaps, and they did were NOT old. I suggested that he & his Lady step out more often, which is what I recommend to all my Gente, especially my generation.

"Well...maybe Anna & I would...but there's nothing to do lately..." he lamented.

And THAT, mi Gente, is where and how this piece gets dedicated to all the "Nachos" in Atzlan...wacha:

This weekend started off on Thursday night for me, as I cruised down the 110 freeway to San Pedro to catch a good meal and a good show at LA CONGA MEXICAN BAR & GRILL. The clean, fresh, ocean air was enticing, as was the food at LA CONGA, Billy Mondragon's & Gerry Ruiz's new hot spot by the sea in Aztlan. Bringing the familia with me, we were served up some fine, hot food with all the fixings, and enjoyed 1st class service.

In the middle of our steaks, shrimp, enchiladas, and cool drinks, Billy and his talented brother Eric, also known as "Down with 3", a popular Chicano R &B/Funk/Jazz fusion group, came on stage & put on an excellent show, easily going through a mellow variety of popular music, almost effortlessly performing,& displaying their versatility. One of the highlights was a young Chicano crooner named "DAX," who gave a wonderful guest performance of his song "Music is forever", which I know is going to hit it nicely on the R & B charts. You'll hear about it first here on LatinoLA.

A good Thursday night, for sure!

Friday night had me staying local in my adopted 'hood of the San Fernando Valley, home to some of the most beautiful women on earth. (I know, 'cause I got ME one!).

The pride of the SFV, THE COMPANY BAND, featuring "the Diamond of the Valley", the gorgeous & talented Ms. BECKY CORDOVA, were taking the stage at Northridge's Presidente Restaurant & Cantina on this night. The full parking lot & large crowd were testament to the faithful following this group has developed in this part of Aztlan.

Chicano Music veteran George Salazar (Thee Midniters, Six-Pac, Midnite's Moon) chose this spot to celebrate his wife's birthday, with brother Midniter ~ Midnite's Moon founder & member, Benny Lopez, and SATISFACTION's guitarist Chris Reserva and his lovely wife Rosie joining my Lady & I in the party.

As expected, the COMPANY, with vocalists Isaac Avila & Eddie Garcia keeping the corners tight, were in "da zone", as the house & dance floor stood full till closing. BECKY CORDOVA was in her element tonight, as she gave up one of the best performances I've ever seen her do, as she seductively roamed the crowd in midsong, tantalizing all that were lucky enough to get close, and I swear, she simply melted Benny Lopez & George Salazar as she gave up a beautiful rendition of the Midniter's classic "Giving up on love" as she walked up to them and serenaded them in front of everybody.

Chris Reserva & I could only stare in awe as she hit us with a killer version of "At last" (one of SATISFACTION's signature songs that I have writen about extensively), ending it with some high notes that Lady Eileen Benavides would appreciate, and then, coming in for the kill with her million dollar smile, received a roaring ovation at the end of the song. Husband Ray Cordova & the rest of the band beamed with pride, as Becky had the crowd eating out of her hand...she was that good tonight.

Friday night was "da bomb".

Saturday night was a dilemma, as Aztlan seemed to explode with music, dancing & talent. All over, clubs, concerts, community events, parties, celebrations...everybody seemed to be booking live talent, and there was something for every age group & music genre.

For the "big kids": The Whittier Radisson saw SOTO take the stage, Bruce's Steakhouse in Santa Fe Springs enjoyed a packed house as SOUL PURSUIT kept the dance floor full, THE COMPANY was demanded back for another night at the Presidente in Northridge, UC Riverside's Noche de Cultura program drew a crowd with MELINDA DEL TORO in the mix, and a neighborhood birthday party with a local band almost kept me off the road for the evening...but the ticket on this night was SATISFACTION at the L.A. Crown Harbor Hotel in San Pedro.

Still keeping company with George, Benny, and the East L.A.Revue/LatinoLA road dogs for the weekend, it was back on the 110 freeway towards San Pedro again. Landing at the La Conga Restaurant again as a meeting place prior to the show, we were all greeted by Chicano music veterans Willie & Susan Mondragon (Billy's parents), Sly, Slick, and the Wicked original drummer Gerry Ruiz, and the East L.A. Revue All Star Band's Robert "Chickie" Garcia. After a small reunion which also saw SATISFACTION's Natali Rene dropping in for a pre-show snack, an impromptu jam session ensued, with Susan & Willie taking center stage and kicking out some hard core rock & roll oldies. If not for the SATISFACTION show 2 blocks away, we would have stayed, as you could see Benny Lopez watering at the mouth, itching to get on stage after Willie invited him.

Landing at the Romeo Lounge at the Crown Harbor Hotel just 10 minutes later, just as the band started, it was obvious the guys & gal of SATISFACTION were ready to rumble as the crowd came in.

As if on cue, the band seemed to explode in a masterful cacophony of music, blended voices, lights, and stage dancing, as they lit up the stage with their tasteful choreography and great music.

Reminiscent of a good old fashioned, Las Vegas style Rock & roll show, Robert Benavides, Natali Rene, Chris Reserva, Steve Falomir, and Jimmy Silva were all in step on stage, and it also seemed that drummer Ralph Orozco & keyboard player "Westside Johnny" Lopez were dancing in their seats! To see 7 performers all in step, on the same note, on the same page, to every song , and having a ball on stage is truly entertaining, and nobody entertains better than SATISFACTION.

When the beautiful Natali Renee broke out into the cumbias, there wasn't an empty space on the dance floor. With Robert teaching the crowd the true "tighten up" dance, and Chris "little Santana" Reserva simply blowing people away with his powerful guitar solos (once coming out onto the dance floor, then climbing up on the bar & struttin' while choppin' his axe), the crowd was treated to first class Land of 1000 Dances Chicano music & dancing.

A highlight of the night was when the band spotted George Salazar out in the crowd and invited him up on stage for the Midniter classic "That's all". Always a crowd pleaser (and a BIG Satisfaction fan), George joined them for this soulful classic , and the evening ended on a perfect note...with everybody SATISFIED!

Saturday night estava mas de aquellas!

One would think that an old vato my age would call it a weekend, but hey, the Goddess of Ritmo was not done with me yet! (Are you catching this, Nacho??)

Sunday afternoon, it was back on the road for another day of live music in the Land of 1000 Dances. This time to Pasadena, to the renown Frank & Dean's Steakhouse on Colorado Boulevard , where rumors that the ghosts of Frank Sinatra & Dean Martin still getting' their boogie on & partying on the dance floor abound...hmmm...

(I ain't afraid of no ghost!)

Tonight, the bill of fare featured the finest Chicano Blues Band on the Planet, the BLUES STRAIGHT UP BAND. With Lady Lava Gonzalez conspicuously absent due to unforeseen illness, famed Blues guitarist & singer VAL RAEL sat in, and homies, lemme tell ya, this dude can crank!! Joining Dave "Harpdog" Pierce on vocals, Val helped Big Mike Rincon & the guys treat the crowd to some good old fashioned, home~style , take-you-to-another dimension Blues music.

Sitting out in the crowd in the well preserved, 1950's Las Vegas style atmosphere of Frank & Dean's, I spotted George Salazar & his wife (still keeping her birthday party going), Benny Lopez, Fred Magallanes of the SOUL PURSUIT Band, and Ray Cordova of the COMPANY Band, all digging the sounds, having a great time...and I could swear I caught a glimpse of the ghosts of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr. lurking in the shadows, smiling & enjoying a great show. (No!...I wasn't on a good buzz !)

Sunday was a great end to a great weekend!

Also missing conspicuously was RAMPART Record's Steven Chavez & Hector Gonzalez, who ALWAYS know where the action is in Aztlan. It also being Mr. Chavez's birthday weekend, we all waited all weekend to catch up with him and help him toast another year.

Rumors & reliable sources spotted Steven & Hector at the 2007 NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Convention in Anaheim this weekend, where, as the distinguished guests of Mr. Ryan Smith, President of the A&R division of World renown & recognized SHURE Microphones, Inc., they were spotted in the company of Stevie Wonder & the Tower of Power at a private reception.

(Happy Birthday anyways, Mr. Chavez!)

Life in the Land of 1000 Dances! Who says "there's nothing to do?"...

As always, the great sounds of Chicano Music are heard on www.eastLArevue.com , and www.chicanoexpress.com, everyday, 7 days a week.

The word of Aztlan is found here, on LatinoLA, where more Latinos are hipped & informed than on any other Latino Web Magazine on the West Coast, featuring articles, announcements, and perspectives by some of Aztlan's best writers.

More news in support of Tia Chucha's Cultural Center is coming, and WE WILL be asking for you support!

A new CMPSA (Chicano Music Public Service Announcement) e-publication is being developed, sponsored by East L.A. Revue Radio & Latino L.A. for the benefit of that particular audience that appreciates the Art of Chicano/Latino music. For more info: stevenchavez68@hotmail.com or call (951) 653-7777.

It truly is ..."A Brown thing, baby!"....

Orale, Nacho! This one's for you, ese!....

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

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