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Still diggin' them Blues

The Blues Straight Up Band bring Summer 2008 to a mellow close

By Frankie Firme ~ Contributing Editor
Published on LatinoLA: September 17, 2008


Still diggin' them Blues


It's been a pretty cool summer, entertainment wise, this year of 2008, in the Land of 1000 Dances.

Despite record high gas prices, earthquakes, fires, heat waves, an on going war in the Middle East, and economic troubles that had me cursing in three languages, I still managed to get out in southern Califas and take a deep drink from the artistic fountain of youth that is music.

I rocked, I rolled, I salsa'd, I cumbia'd, I slow danced to the Oldies, I boogied, I ranchera'd , I Disco'd, and hell, I even gave it a shot at Hip-Hop and Ska music with some of the hottest names in California like TIERRA, SATISFACTION, WAR, EL CHICANO, The KOOL KATZ, TRAFFIC JAM, SUSIE HANSEN, LESLIE PAULA, NUESTRO, PEPE MARQUEZ , CHARLES WRIGHT, REDBONE, OLMECA,UPGROUND , THE COMPANY Band, THEE MIDNITERS, and the L.A. RHYTHM KINGS just to mention a few.

I got to enjoy some new music from TORTILLA FACTORY, BOB GALLARZA, and BIG FRANK GOMEZ out of Texas, while California legend LOLLY VEGAS put out some new stuff of his own, along with L.A.'s The COMPANY & BACKTRAXX bands.

I went to some killer plays, I attended festivals, fairs, fundraisers, and community events, and I even managed to DJ a few private events & parties while broadcasting my Oldies but Goodies/Latin Soul radio shows on eastLArevue.com, ChicanoExpress.com, and for a shining minute, on rockinradio.com.

The Land of 1000 Dances did not earn it's name for nothing, and I surprisingly didn't go broke surviving possibly the economically toughest summer of my life‘«™

..but life ain't all about the bucks, know what I mean? If it wasn't for the love of my Lady, my family, my friends, and my beloved Chicano music, I'd probably be parked on a porch munchin' nachos somewhere .

I needed just a little something else this summer to make it complete, and I found it and got it from my good friends, the BLUES STRAIGHT UP Band, at a little place on the edge of the San Fernando Valley called the Roast House in Santa Clarita.

Known for a killer 10 oz. burger and some of the best Chicken Marseilles in the valley, it's where the Blues Straight Up Band chose to end the summer with some comfortable company in a crowd that included yours truly, my lady, and a couple of good friends on a perfect, warm southern California summer Saturday night.

Known as the finest Chicano Blues band on the planet, the BLUES STRAIGHT UP Band features the sultry & sensually teasing voices of the one and only Lava Gonzalez and Dave "Harpdog" Pearce (one of the Brownest white dudes you'll ever meet on stage). Their duets, solos, and bi-lingual abilities show off their versatility in traditional, southern, delta, Chicago style, and west coast Blues music, whether it be a cover or one of their original pieces, the band makes it their own and gives it to you fresh.

With ripping, yet soul soothing guitar solos by Dave New, and lively yet impressive keyboard action by Jaime Avila, the band is well carried, pumped, and pushed by the backline of Carlos Carrion on drums and "Big Mike" Rincon (of the East Side Sound's BLENDELLS fame) on bass and backup vocals.

Like every bite of a well tossed salad accompanied by a perfect caldo with warm fresh bread, the BLUES STRAIGHT UP Band tastes better with every song they play during their performance.

Lava's lively yet naughty bi-lingual lyrics on "Stormy Monday" and "Black Widow Woman" were perfect dessert to Harpdog's hauntingly seductive harmonica, and his playful lyrics on his original cut "Do you love me for my body or my mind?"

Their rock-a-billy version of "Wine, wine, wine" showcased the outstanding keyboard talents of Jaime Avila, as he took us all for a ride on that one! ( My digestion even seemed to improve after that one!)

What makes the band and music so enjoyable is that you can see that the band is having just as good, if not better, a time on stage playing what they love most‘«™the Blues.

As the sun set gently over the Santa Clarita hills bathing the area in warm golden sunset light, with the delicious aroma of good food in the air adding to the candle lit ambiance of the Roast House's now packed outdoor patio, Lava Gonzalez and the BLUES STRAIGHT UP band gave up one of the most memorable performances I've ever heard them do as they simply seduced everybody into appreciative, head bobbing silence with a heart rendering version of "Someday, someway" that simply melted me, as Lava gave up her heart on this one, and shared it with all of us.

Now that, my friends, is a perfect way to end an imperfect summer in the Land of 1000 Dances!

Note: For more info on the BLUES STRAIGHT UP Band: www.bluesstraightup.com
‘«™and tell em' you heard it from Frankie Firme & LatinoLA.com !

About Frankie Firme ~ Contributing Editor:
Frankie Firme is the Al capone of the microphone and the Hitman of West Coast Chicano Soul
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