The Lady is Back!

Popular L.A. Chicana diva Eileen Benavides returns to the stage with the SATISFACTION Band

By Frankie Firme ~ Contributing Editor
Published on LatinoLA: November 18, 2008

The Lady is Back!

Like a music lover's dream come true, nobody is wasting time asking, "Why?" We're all just happy that it came true, as one of L.A.'s favorite Chicana Divas is back on stage belting out the tunes that make us get on the dance floor deep in the Heart of the Land of 1000 Dances.

After a brief hiatus, and anticipation in the air so thick you could almost taste it, popular singer EILEEN BENAVIDES returned to join the SATISFACTION Band, much to the delight of a surprisingly large crowd that came down to Norwalk's Guest House Inn this past Friday to give her a warm welcome back.

I had heard rumors for a couple of weeks, but could never nail down the source. I had written about Lady Eileen's musical seduction of the Land of 1000 Dances audiences regularly for a couple of years from early 2003 until late 2005 when she stepped down, and nobody was more bummed out than me and the band when she left, I'm sure.

The SATISFACTION Band was very fortunate that the Goddess of Ritmo had sent in the talented Natali Rene Hernandez all the way from Colorado for awhile, and they were able to stay at a high level of performance, but home beckoned, and Natali recently returned to Colorado, much to the disappointment of SATISFACTION Band fans.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I ran across guitarist Chris Reserva at a private party where he just couldn't hide his enthusiasm and smile as he broke the news and invited me down to the Guesthouse.

My Lady and I arrived a little early to the Guesthouse Inn in Norwalk (formerly the Norwalk Ramada Inn), half expecting a low turnout that many L.A. gigs are currently experiencing due to the economy. Much to our surprise, a pretty good sized crowd was already forming prior to the band's first set‘«™a good sign‘«™

We found good vantage point seats, ordered a drink, and sat down to wait for a party to start. I saw the band members setting up and testing equipment, but couldn't spot the lady star of the evening .

Damn! I was misinformed, I began to think! Too good to true, I thought. ..she's not gonna show!...bummer!

Smiling, my Lady nudged me and nodded to a corner of the club, and there she was! As always, tall, beautiful, and statuesque, with her legendary Latina-India good looks, long black hair, and impeccable dress, we walked up to her and were greeted with that famous smile that could melt a thousand hearts!

"Hey, you guys!" she happily greeted us with warm hugs, "Good to see you! Thanks for coming out! I'm so excited to be here!"...our girl was back, we thought. Her enthusiasm was electric! I could see numerous fans and friends coming up to her as well, and she graciously greeted them all in the same manner.

Girl's got the juice, know what I mean?

The band started off with a short number, after which lead singer Daddy Robert Benavides announced the return of his daughter Eileen. The crowd roared their approval as Eileen walked up to the stage with the confidence and grace that endeared her to us all, as "Our Girl" was back!

Flashing that million dollar smile, she stepped up to the microphone and said what we haven't heard in a couple of years: "Y'all ready to get this party started?"

And with that, it was on, as SATISFACTION kicked it open with some Mary Wells classics that Eileen has made her own, and the dance floor easily filled. I bumped into mama Benavides and the wives and girlfriends of the band members on the dance floor, and we all made it a party as we got our boogie on!

Nothing defines an R B singer like a soul ballad with deep, romantic lead vocals. Eileen Benavides is probably one of the best female vocalists in L.A., in this humble writer's opinion, getting her talent from her father, singer Robert Benavides no doubt, who is also one of the best vocalists in the current contemporary club circuit.

In less time than it took to finish your first beer after the opening number, there was Eileen and the SATISFACTION Band, smoothly spreading love among the Gente with a sultry version of "It's Gonna Take a Miracle" that of course had me out there with my Lady on a packed dance floor.

As is their style, once SATISFACTION gets you on the floor, they keep you there with a blistering twist of genres that beckon you with cumbias, disco, and classic rock & roll, not to mention a nice taste of today's R&B, guaranteed to keep you dancing & partying.

Looking military fit and ready to parachute out of a plane, a much slimmed down Jimmy Silva was on it with the sax and percussion, as he joined famed guitarist Chris "Lil' Santana" Reserva, bassist Edgar Salas, drummer Ralph Orazco III, keyboardist John Lopez, and of course lead singer Robert Benavides as they backed up Eileen flawlessly, and satisfaction was shared by everybody in the house like they haven't in awhile!

During one of the breaks, the band joked that the large crowd was "‘«™really here to see Eileen, not us!..."

Had I not been having such a great time, I might have agreed, but the band seemed energized , even when Eileen took a break off stage, and the party stayed full all night long as Eileen's return just made it a good reason to be there and kick up chancla.

As always, Eileen brought down the house with her no- legendary trademark ballad, the immortal Etta James tune "At Last", with a closing vocal roll that had the full house standing still in opened mouthed awe as "one of ours" shows us how it's supposed to be done.

As one of Eileen's unofficial "uncles", I couldn't help beaming just a little with pride for one of L.A.'s best, who's back on the set, helping keeping it alive in the Land of 1000 Dances.

...welcome back, Mija! ‘«™Now, knock 'em dead wit' yo bad self, girl!!

Note: For more info on Eileen Benavides & the SATISFACTION Band and future appearances, go to www.satisfactionband.comt and tell 'em you heard it from Frankie Firme & LatinoLA !

About Frankie Firme ~ Contributing Editor:
Frankie Firme is heard on Internet radio stations eastLArevue.com, djchentemrog.com/RADIOSHOW.htm and ChicanoExpress.com
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