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Another Great Night in the Land of 1000 Dances, with the Homies

Gilbert Esquivel, Louie Parra and the Mad Latins Band make staying local not so bad after all

By Frankie Firme ~ Contributing Editor
Published on LatinoLA: October 6, 2008


Another Great Night in the Land of 1000 Dances, with the Homies


"Times be tough," I'm told, "How can you afford to step out and party with the economy being like it is?", I'm sometimes asked.

"What is there to celebrate when we're in the middle of a recession?" some readers ask. "I'm almost broke, and I'm too depressed to laugh or dance," one of my friends recently told me.

That's exactly the point! The economy may be bad right now, but not my desire to live, love, laugh, and dance!

The country might be in a recession for sure, but there's no recession in the spirit of my people! Many of us grew up in hard times, so this ain't nothing new for a lot of us, so why should we get depressed?

There are good, brave, young Americans in uniform serving overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan that take a chance of dying everyday for people like me‘«™I know, because I served in two branches of the U.S. military prepared to take a chance on dying for people like you‘«™and I've mourned the loss of family members and friends in my lifetime‘«™.so for you and them, I'm going to celebrate life while I'm still living one.

If you can't take a little time out to enjoy the sunshine, feel the warmth of a baby's laughter, appreciate the sound of music, laugh at life, enjoy the love of familia and friends, or dance with the moon at night while you rest‘«™you are definitely taking life TOO serious, and your health, both mental and physical, may be at risk.

You don't have to cop a buzz to have a good time, either.

I know some of you may not comprehend some of these metaphors, but for those of you who do, let's share the love!

Watcha:

According to the news and latest statistics, the north side of the San Fernando Valley, with neighborhoods like Pacoima, San Fernando, and Sylmar, is one of L.A.'s toughest and most violent areas. People just don't get along, one would tend to believe. Not a cool place to be if you're not a local.

I beg to differ. I'm relatively new here, originally coming from East L.A. and the San Gabriel Valley , so as an outsider, I should fear being the Brown "new guy"... right?

Nah! The Gente de la SFV are just as warm & friendly as anyone would want, and I've been privileged to make many new friends, so don't be mislead‘«™no te crees! The good Gente in the SFV, the good-looking adults, be happening, and they bring a wealth of talent to Aztlan.

Last Friday, I was lucky enough to join my good friend, renowned comedian and now movie actor Gilbert Esquivel (a local homie from the area, as a matter of fact) as he hosted his "Old School Comedy & Music Show" at the elegant Odyssey Grand Ballroom in Mission Hills, which was a sold out success as always.

This being his ninth sold out show in the last three years since it's inception, the event has become a local tradition of sorts, as one of the SFV's favorite sons brings it back home for the Gente. The attendance of hundreds of well-dressed Chicanos and Chicanas from the different neighborhoods is testament to the power that laughter and music have in uniting people in peace and harmony, while in the pursuit of a good time during tough times. No pedo‘«™just a lot of love & respect‘«™the way it's supposed to be!

With Gilbert (bringing in some of the Country's top comedians, and booking some of the area's favorite adult Old School music DJ's, while offering ample food & drink, it's always a party where everybody knows everybody. It's almost like a big neighborhood family reunion of different generations.

Old rivalries and problems are now laughed about, and old rivals share a drink, a meal, and a laugh while talking about the old days, and the ladies are dressed in their finest and looking good! Everybody seems to be the "comadre" of somebody, and everybody ends the night dancing.

After a rib-busting comedy show that included Gilbert and some of his friends like Willie Barcena , there was dancing till after midnite, and I was out there tirando chancla with SFV celebrities like Bobby Chacon, Bobby Arias, William "Blinky" Rodriguez, and singer Issac Avlia. As always, Gilbert Esquivel, and the show's producer, brother Rudy, are out among the Gente shaking hands, sharing a memory and a laugh, and just making sure everybody is having a good time‘«™.which everybody of course did! And like always, the Esquivel brothers and the Gente de la SFV treated me and my Lady like familia, and we soaked it all up while having a great time all night long.

(Didn't go broke either!) .

Thanks, guys!....you know how to throw a party and make a brother feel welcome!

Gilbert's working on a new movie, which he tells me will be plenty of old school music connected to comedy tales from the 'hood‘«™and you will hear all the upcoming details here on LatinoLA as they develop!

The next night has me cruising back home to the Eastside, where I was honored to host and MC the MAD LATINS Band concert at the Montebello Inn on a most welcome cool and rainy Saturday night in the old neighborhood.

Despite the day-long City of Montebello Cultural Street Fair on Whittier Boulevard just outside the doors of the Montebello Inn, a good sized crowd still fell out to enjoy the classic Latin Soul/Oldies/funk/R&B sounds of one of L.A.'s top up-and-coming adult Chicano dance bands as the soft rains relieved us of the past heat spell that was Summer '08, and the day turned into night‘«™.time to dance!

Struttin' on stage in a pin-striped zoot suit & tongo, lead singer & percussionist Louie Parra was in "da zone" as he masterfully led the band in three hot sets of dancing music that again had me & my Lady out on the dance floor tirando chancla como jovenes, this time with the homies and compadres from my side of town, along with that good looking, mellow, and never-gonna-get-old, 45-year-old and over crowd from the East side.

Like the previous night in the San Fernando Valley, the love of the Gente was there, as we all boogied away our troubles for one enjoyable night, making jokes about everything and anything that has everybody else down, and old friendships & memories were remembered and shared. The only difference was geographical.

Like the commercial says: Music, dancing, and laughter among the Gente‘«™priceless!

Joining us were THEE MIDNITERS original founding member & drummer George Salazar, and cable/Internet TV personality "East L.A. Rey" Garza of the THEE MR. DURAN Show, and they both got their boogie on.

The Mad Latins easily got the place rockin' & rollin', and it was a straight out party till the end. Along with Louie Parra and the band, vocalist Lisa Gutierrez kept the action going with her sizzling voice and saucy stage moves, as she helped kick it into high gear, where the band stayed all night. Big surprises come in small packages, and Lisa Gutierrez is an epitome of that! ( You go, girl!)

In case you've haven't heard them (yet!), the Mad Latins are a group of seasoned L.A. veterano musicians that have a nice range of different genres that they are totally adept at, but they excel at Latin Soul, funk, R&B, cumbias, and of course, East L.A. Oldies! Veteran drummer Rene "Reenie" Flores (of The Sly, Slick, & the Wicked, & the East L.A. Revue All Star Band fame) adds that icing on the cake that makes you know you're listening to one of L.A.'s upcoming best.

To the surprise of a lucky audience, during the third and final set, Louie and the guys called up George Salazar on stage to join them in performing some classic MIDNITER tunes, and George was up to the task, as he received a loud ovation.

Starting off with "That's All", the Mad Latins went through a nice five-song medley of Midniter classics, including a butt-kicking version of "Whittier Boulevard" that got everyone, even the bartender behind the bar, boogy-ing! With George at drums and Louie at lead vocals, it was pure Midniter magic, for those of us that remembered.

Afterwards, George walked off stage to a standing ovation from an audience who still appreciate the music he helped develop over 40 years ago, that still can pack a dance floor.

"Man! That was an honor!" Louie said after he show. " I grew up on Thee Midniters back in the day, listening to their music, seeing them on TV, and having been inspired to play their music, I finally got to perform with one of the originals from that first album. What a rush!"

"I haven't played that much Midniter music, live, in years!", an enthusiastic George told me afterwards." That was a lot of fun. That Mad Latins band got it going on, and Louie Parra is one of the better Latin Soul and Oldies crooners I've heard in a long time. I wish them a lot of luck"
‘«™a better compliment you couldn't buy!

The MAD LATINS will be going into the recording studio soon working on their first CD. Info on completion & release will be heard here on LatinoLA first.

I know I make an issue of it, but, in view of our current situation, I feel it appropriate:

I DIDN'T GO BROKE!

I may be brown bagging it for lunch, but at least I got gas in my tank for the week, and I was able to step out this weekend and live, love, laugh, and dance with good company‘«™and I 'm not depressed because of tough times!

As many entertainment venues across the country are experiencing low turnout crowds due to the economic crisis, a lot people are staying home and staying local.

Nothing wrong with that, but you shouldn't punish yourself or deprive yourself of living life. STEP OUT! LIVE! ENJOY YOUR WORLD!

I may not be rich, I may not be young, but I got me some great family and some great friends, and I love to have a good time, even if it's just a local party or dance in the neighborhood‘«™

‘«™and I implore you all to join me just outside your door!

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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