Father's Day in the Land of 1000 Dances
The 4th Annual Peace & Unity Car Show & Concert in El Sereno
Father's Day in the Land of 1000 Dances...it couldn't have been any better this past Sunday as over 3,000 people stepped out into the beautiful, warm sunshine of Aztlan for the 4th Annual Peace & Unity Car Show and Concert held at the El Sereno Park and Recreation Center.
Published on LatinoLA: June 21, 2007
A day-long, family-oriented extravaganza put on by L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar, the El Sereno Community Coordinating Council's Michael Romero, the San Gabriel Valley Chapter of the Old Memories Car Club, and a multitude of local businesses, the event was peaceful and historical...not to mention a whole lot of fun!
Steven Chavez of East L.A. Revue Radio & Rampart Records, Puppet & the guys from Sounds of Music Record Store in East L.A., Art & Kelly Galvan of THE KOOL KATZ, promoters George Fernandez, Kentara Padron from Oakland, and cable TV's Arturo Esparza were on hand for a great show.
A well-attended car show with representatives from as far away as Arizona displaying some of the finest rides on the planet, entertainment & activities for the kids, food, refreshments, live music & souvenirs, the event went on without incident, and the World saw how Brown people can come together in peace and unity in the City of Angels.
I was honored to be Host & MC of the music concert segment, as promoter Michael Romero, an L.A. street survivor now in a wheelchair, gave the event his blessing with an opening prayer and a well-timed message of respect for GOD, each other, our familias,and the need for peace in our streets among all human beings.
Opening up the concert was RICH GARCIA & the MIDNITE CRUIZERS, a local favorite for many years with their hot Chicano Soul sounds. "I'm originally from El Sereno", Rich Garcia said backstage just before going on. "To come back and play in my old neighborhood in front of such a large hometown crowd is probably one of the best Father's Day gifts I could get...and give! Today is for the people!"
Coming up next and blowing people away with their hotter than hot Latin Soul sounds, SOTO brought the crowd alive in the noon hour with a dazzling display of music talent, and stage persona that had many in the crowd simply saying "Wow!" The Soto Brothers have never failed to entertain the Gente in the many years I've seen them in action, and today was no exception...they nailed it, and set the tone for the day.
Next, fast becoming a Chicano Music icon in L.A., Rocky Padilla and the Rocky Padilla Band (featuring papa Padilla on timbales), came on to a loud ovation as the audience sang along with almost every song. Although the temperature started getting a little cooler, Rocky nonetheless kept things hot with his music & singing, closing off with the crowd singing along in "Crystal Blue Persuasion".
A brief break and welcome messages from Councilman Jose Huizar and Michael Romero, proclaiming the blessing, benefits, and advantages that peace and education can bring to our communities & young people, brought a ringing round of applause as the crowd in the park now had come to peak attendance size, and the message was well received.
It was Father's Day in the Land of 1000 Dances...and the Daddy's were all having a ball!
At that time, I was honored to introduce a group of guys I've waited many years to share a stage with...
Representing one of L.A.'s most powerful and recognized Chicano groups of all time, and members of the only Chicano music group from Los Angeles ever to play in New York's legendary Carnegie Hall and Tokyo,Japan, TIERRA founders Rudy and Steve Salas, along with original former members Bobby Loya, Bobby Navarrete, and Joey Guerra reunited on stage and brought the park to it's feet with their easily recognized trademark sound. As if taken back 25 years, there was TIERRA in all their glory, Rudy ripping his guitar solos and singing his heart out, Steve on timbales & vocals, Bobby, Joey and Bobby all doing their thing, hitting some clean solos, and singing in harmony during their closing theme song "together", with Steve giving a message of peace and unity that brought tears of nostalgia and pride to almost everybody in the park.
Man! It was a moment that nobody ever expected!
I HAD to call them back for a curtain call and get out of the way as cameras starting flashing for these guys....los carnales de TIERRA!
I had a chance to talk with Steve backstage afterwards: "To be here in front of the L.A. crowd has always been an honor for me and my brother" he smiled. "To see such a large crowd of proud, low~riding Chicano families all sitting together, getting along, enjoying the music & the day is a tribute to our people & our culture. We are more than proud to be here...and we wouldn't mind coming back next year!"
Brother Viet Nam Vet Bobby Loya simply smiled and said, "I'm home, Brother...and glad to be here!"
Next, one of L.A.'s most recognized & beloved Chicano rappers, M.C. Boulevard, came on stage and gave a quick prayer and thanks to GOD and everybody, for a most peaceful and harmonious day. Like me, we just enjoyed the moment of being amongst our people, surrounded by love of Brown people, and good music in the Land of 1000 Dances.
Busting it wide open next, and not missing a beat, brother East L.A. Revue Radio DJ Chico Manqueros came on stage and warmed up the crowd for the arrival of the King of Latin Soul, Mr. Joe Bataan, backed up by the Latin All Star band which included Bobby Loya, Bobby Navarette, Rocky Padilla, and Mrs. Joe Bataan. With almost everybody in the park singing along, Joe excited, yet mellowed the crowd with his colorful messages of peace, love, unity, and respect for GOD, our families, and each other that was not lost on the younger generation. I saw some young guys simply staring with their mouths open in awe as Joe talked directly to them in mid-song, saying "...when you go home tonight....kiss everybody you love, thank GOD you & them are alive today, and say a prayer for those who have left us...". When I noticed tears in one young man's eyes, I just had to invite him backstage to watch Joe perform up close, and take some pictures. He must have thanked me a least 5 times, as Joe hit 'em hard with the Oldies.
Joe brought more than a few homies & their ladies to tears & dance with his performance & message....home~boy was simply in "da zone", proving once again why he has been dubbed the King of Latin Soul on both coasts!
As the sun began to set, and some of the vendor booths began to close for the day, everybody came towards the stage for the next act, The ORIGINAL LOWRIDER Band. Featuring the reunion of Howard Scott, Lee Oskar, BB Dickerson, and Harold Brown, former original members of one of L.A. 's most legendary groups, easily recognized. With the crowd easily recognizing the band member's names, they had no trouble yelling out "WAR! WAR! WAR!", as the ORIGINAL LOWRIDERS went into a tribute medley of classic hits they are originally part of, that is every bit a part of Chicano Music history. These guys also went back in time, with Lee Oskar simply all over the stage blowing his harmonica to the thrill of the crowd, and Howard Scott letting the younger generation see what it was like back in the day with a butt-kicking ,1960's, Jimi Hendrix style concert guitar solo that belied his age, then, he gave a thoughtful tribute to the Gente Brown from the Eastside.
Afterwards, I had a chance to talk with Howard as I complimented him on his playing. "Man! Look at that crowd!", he smiled. "Although I'm originally from Compton , the Eastside is where real music has stayed alive all these years, generation to generation. We have so many friends and fans out here, I feel like a young guy again! I'm lowriding with the homies again!" .
Closing off the show in style as the park lights lit up the cool early evening, SLY, SLICK, & WICKED strutted up on stage ,resplendent in matching white zoot suits, drawing "oohs" and "ahhs" from the audience. Giving up a heart warming medley of Soul~Oldies and timely, in-step choreography, they drew the crowd closer to the stage,
and were surrounded with love and appreciation , as Sonny Daye enthusiastically thanked the crowd for coming out, for keeping the peace, and for sharing the love of classic R&B Oldies, and the sounds of L.A.
After their last song, the crowd would not disperse without an encore, and SLY, SLICK, & WICKED gave the people what they wanted, closing the show with a last "grinder", and getting a loud and thunderous ovation from a loving audience. Talking with Mr. Sonny Daye before show time, he enthusiastically told me "The Eastside and the Chicano Community have always been a strong fan base for us, for more than 3 generations. We started off on the Eastside, and although we enjoy performing for fans across the Country...it's here in East L.A. where I feel at home. I'm proud of my African~American heritage, no doubt, but I want to hear, sing, and live the Soul Oldies that this loving Chicano audience recognizes as SLY, SLICK, and WICKED...and keeping the peace and bringing people together only makes it sweeter for all of us. This needs to happen more & more."
....it just keeps getting better in the Land of 1000 Dances...know what I mean? You just couldn't have asked for a better day, better music, or a better crowd.
Catch you in El Sereno next year, Mi Gente! Keep the peace!!
Frankie Firme is the Al Capone of the microphone & the Hitman of West Coast Chicano Soul.