Kool Cruising on Cinco de Mayo
The Kool Katz connect Aztlan
The Chicano music world is alive and well in Aztlan, I'm happy to report.
Published on LatinoLA: May 9, 2007
From New York to the midwest state of Kansas to San Diego, California, all the way north to the Oregon border and beyond, Chicanos are rockin' & rollin' and connecting!
This Cinco de Mayo weekend was evidence of a new day and a new way. All over Califas, from L.A. to the San Francisco Bay area, celebrations were happening, being celebrated by everyone, and people were connecting.
....and everything was not just Mariachi, Ranchera, soccer, and beer!
All over L.A., gigs were happening, and the much touted (possibly over-flouted) De La Hoya ~ Mayweather fight drew record numbers to sports bars and backyard bar-b-ques all over Aztlan, and a group of California Chicano kids from Concord High school became the first high school thespian group in the country to perform Luis Valdez's "ZOOT SUIT" play.
Even L.A.'s police chief Bill Bratton got in on the spirit & action by publicly chastising and demoting 2 top white police commanders for ordering the traditional hitherto accepted brutality of minorities in L.A. during last week's May Day march.
Orale, Bill! This Corona's for you! Gracias for finally seeing what we've been saying for years. A wrong is starting to get right! It's a new day, baby!
That being said, I took the opportunity to join friends Steven Chavez & Chico Manqueros as we traveled to northern Aztlan in search of our musical brethren outside of the Land of 1000 Dances and celebrate the moment.
As guests of Art & Kelly Galvan of the heavy hitting KOOL KATZ Band de Califas, we took part in a righteous Chicano celebration that had us celebrating Art's 50th birthday, Cinco de Mayo, and the connecting of some of Southern & Northern California's Chicano music lovers & artists.
The Avalon Club in Sunnyvale was the exquisite setting for the gig on Friday night as myself, Chico Manqueros, Steven Chavez and our Ladies were wined & dined like royalty courtesy of the Galvan's and about 500 of their closest friends & family, and 5 bands from areas like San Jose, Sunnyvale, Tracy, Stockton,the San Francisco-Oakland Bay area and beyond. Real good people...real BROWN!
Opening up the festivities was a group called MIDNITE BREEZE, who mellowed everybody out with their smooth Latin Jazz sound as the sun started to go down, and a feast of a dinner was served.
Then, Chico Manqueros and I, serving as co-hosts & MC's, introduced the SUENOS/LOVE TAXI Band, who got the house rockin' with their hot salsa sounds and mellow boleros. The dance floor got full when they hit their classic tune "Oh little girl", and it stayed that way.( My apologies to the band for earlier stating they were from the east coast in one of my shows. These guys are West Coast Califas veteranos all the way! Real gentlemen and a Lady as well)
Next, the KOOL KATZ came on stage 13 strong, with hot brass and dazzling stage moves that had me going "Damn! I wanna dance!" Kelly Galvan was simply sparkling, and would be right at home on any L.A. stage, hitting them high notes, vocal rolls, and belting out the tunes with serious moxie. When she got the whole band to start siding on stage during "Fantastic voyage", I knew she had the whole place eating out of her hand.The dance floor was packed and undulating. Knowing that Steven, Chico, and myself have been witness to some of the finest Chicano guitar players of our time in the Land of 1000 Dances, Art Galvan let loose with some serious axe choppin' of his own , ripping some very impressive solos that I KNOW veterano guitarist friends of mine like Rudy Salas (TIERRA) and Chris Reserva (SATISFACTION BAND) would have said "Damn! Home-boy can play!".
It was Art's 50th birthday, but he sang, danced, and played guitar on stage like he had just turned 18! The KOOL KATZ were in "da zone" tonight. (I highly recommend you pick up their CD)
Their finale was a birthday fantasy come true for any artist: Singing on stage with his wife, his children, his band, in his hometown, in front of a packed hometown crowd on his birthday, and SOUNDING GOOD with the Gente dancing and having a ball! The screams of delight were deafening!
Chico & I couldn't fight the feeling...we had to get the crowd to join us in singing happy birthday to Art after the finale...and they all did!
Next, the JAMMIN' BAND came on and kicked it even higher with their hot top 40-Tex Mex-Oldies-R & B set that had everybody dancing and sharing the mood as Chico announced on stage that it was midnight and officially Cinco de Mayo. Another large group of 12 members, the JAMMIN' BAND represented Nothern Califas in style, that got my serious attention when they hit their Oldies medley.(...what can I say?) They were smooth as a Chicana's smile in the moonlight.
The final act of the night was the legendary pride of the San Francisco Bay Area, SAPO, featuring RICHARD BEAN.
Introducing them on stage, Chico and I felt honored to be among some of Aztlan's best, and they didn't disappoint, opening up with their trademark "Ritmo de Corazon" that had the dance floor full of Gente just standing in awe and snapping pictures, as SAPO simply went off the chain and proved why they deserve their place among the West Coast's Chicano Music Pioneers roster. They closed the show in masterful style, brass to the bone, and Richard proved he hasn't lost a thing since his "Suavecito" days.
In between all 5 bands, DJ Jimmy Jamm rocked da house big time!
What a party! Steven video taped portions, Chico recorded portions, and you can catch some of this on www.eastLAevue.com . Take a look at the north, Mi Gente! They know how to have a party!
...."we WILL be bringing the KOOL KATZ down to our part of Aztlan. L.A. needs to hear these guys & a gal..." Steven and Chico happily told me.
...I can hardly wait! You know LatinoLA will be there!
note: For info on any bands mentioned, contact Steven Chavez or Chico Manqueros via the East L.A. Revue Internet Radio Jukebox webpage. (www.eastLArevue.com)
Frankie Firme is the Al Capone of the microphone & the Hitman of West Coast Chicano Soul.