On October 14 I had the chance to lend my support of the rebuilding of the Garfield High Auditorium by attending their benefit concert.
To be honest I've heard most of the bands on the bill so I wasn't expecting anything unusual. Let me tell you, was I in for a surprise. It seems that Raza Luv was in the air
That night, every performer brought their "A" game and took Brown Pride to a new level.
As I made my way to the Gibson Amphitheatrer it was really cool to see so many people hugging old friends and toasting their Bulldog alma mater. You could tell this was looking up to be a pretty special night.
Local band UPGROUND took the stage and mashed together some tight Latin Reggae rhythms to start the night off right. They were followed by the legendary EL CHICANO who put it down like they did 30 years go. Bobby Espinosa, Rudy Regalado, Jerry Salas and Freddie Sanchez on stage together again was such a wonderful sight. A highlight for all was "Tell Her She's Lovely" with its dueling guitars. It worked the crowd out of their seats for the first standing ovation of the night.
LITTLE JOE y LA FAMILIA took the stage next and put on great performance. At age 67 Little Joe still has the pipes and energy to throw down with the best of them. He delivered a couple of very fitting tributes to Freddy Fender and Frank Sinatra. Little Joe saved the best for last as he served up a big slice of Tex-Mex when he sang Las Nubes and had the Gibson Theater crowd dancing in the aisles.
By this time, with the crowd still buzzing, RUDY MORENO came out to do his comedy thang. Rudy always the professional, side-stepped roadies and sound techs and got the Gibson crowd laughing it up. Rudy introduced hometown favorite TIERRA and they launched into a great Latin set complete with a rockin' horn section and incredible vocals from Billy Mondragon and the reunited Salas brothers Rudy and Steve. A highlight for me was their Old Songs Medley with Billy wowing the crowd (especially the ladies) with his amazing voice.
Seeing and hearing Steve and Rudy Salas together again on Gema made me wish they were recording this show for a future CD release. Tierra closed with their chart topping "Together" and brought the Gibson Crowd to another standing ovation.
Hot 92.3 FM morning host Victor Zaragoza brought out the Garfield High School Marching Band to the audience surprise. They played and marched up the aisles showing their Bulldog pride. A video with Oscar De La Hoya showing the damage to the Garfield Auditorium was played on the jumbo screens. It reminded the crowd just what this whole night was for.
After a short delay the recently added WAR came out and put on probably the most energetic set of the night. Lonnie Jordan and company had the Gibson crowd jumping and dancing in the aisles with versions of "Me And Baby Brother", "Don't Let No One Get You Down" and "Why Can't We Be Friends". I think they must have performed a half hour version of "Low Rider" with each member of the band showcased in a solo.
I've seen WAR perform numerous times and by far this was their most impressive set I've ever seen. I could not imagine the evening getting any better.
The crowd again buzzing from all the great band sets, were treated with an encore performance of Rudy Moreno's comedy styling. This time Rudy had to endure even more sound checks and roadie interruptions. You have to give it up for Rudy because he powered thru and delivered some very funny material.
By this time 4 plus hours into the show my knees were getting stiff but that didn't matter because the headliners LOS LOBOS took the stage and I never sat down again. David Hidalgo, Cesar Rosas and company put on a rockin', bluesy, Latin mix that had everyone moving. Later, they brought out special guest vocalist Lil' WILLIE G (from Thee Midniters) to do a few numbers including a couple of Midniters classics "Sad Girl" and "That's All".
I saw David strap on his accordion and rip into a Norte??o version of the Mexican classic Volver Volver that had the whole Gibson crowd singing along. Man, this has to be the closer. Am I right? Wrong! Just then Los Lobos blares into "La Bamba" and invites all the other performers from the evening to join them in ending the concert with an All-Star Jam of The Rascals classic "Good Lovin".
I know I may not have attended Garfield High School but it sure felt like it because everyone there was an honorary Bulldog at least for this one magical night.
*Donations to rebuild the GARFIELD AUDITORIUM can be made to any Bank Of America branch to account # 21296-51293. Checks can be made payable to the FUND TO REBUILD GARFIELD AUDITORIUM
Originally Published Monday October 15, 2007 at DJAM's Blog
DJAM is a Club/Mobile DJ and Music fan in West Covina. DJAM spins for special events in the Royal Room at the Staples Center. You can e-mail him at email@example.com or visit him on the web at http://www.djdjam.com or http://www.myspace.com/djdjam