Keeping the Balance

Azusa's BALANCE BAND still on the move

By Frankie Firme ~ Contributing Editor
Published on LatinoLA: January 25, 2011

Keeping the Balance

There are so many talented bands and artists in the Land of 1000 Dances, and I feel that we are truly blessed with good music and art here on the U.S. West Coast more than other folks around the globe.

I have traveled to other cities & states, and while in the military, halfway around the World, during my short 55+ years here on earth, and always, I have looked for, and listened to the music. Because of the internet, I have made music friends all around the World.

I am amazed at how music travels, and how the sound of American rock & roll and original style rhythm & blues is custom made for the geographical area in which it exists.

I'm not a hip-hop or rap music fan, and I can't stomach Banda music with cowboy hats, so I can't comment on those genres, but I do know that:

Only in Texas, can you hear the original "Tejano" sound in places like San Antonio, Alice, Temple , El Paso, and Houston. Other places & states do it justice, but it just kicks it in more deeper, in Texas .

It's amazing what our Hawaiian brothers & sisters can do with Doo-Wop Oldies, Jamaican, and Hawaiian music, mixing it up and calling it "Ja~Waiian Island music". ..Not bad, either.

Up in the Santa Barbara & Carpinteria areas, lively Ska music captures the hearts of large crowds.

You find the best Blues anywhere on the planet in Chicago and the southern states, and there is no bigger music influence than Detroit 's Motown

The original "East Coast sound " is well known for it's Doo~Wops and original sounding Latin Soul & Salsa born in New York, and anybody that knows me, or listens to any good California Oldies radio station, or patronizes the "big kid & adults over 40" night clubs in L.A., knows how the "West Coast~East Side Sound" mixed with classic R&B, and California's Latin Bay Area sound, has metamorphisized into the "burrito circuit" among the large California Chicano populations from San Diego to Cresent City , with L.A. in the middle, making music here a fun experience of memorable proportions, should one take a close & deep look into the Brown American soul in the Land of 1000 Dances.

On another note, I am always in awe at how classical European music, literature, and poetry, over 500 years old, long before public concerts, radio, TV, and recording, is still alive and doing well as a testament to man's appreciation of art‘«™.

‘«™and I would hope that my beloved english~spanglish language Chicano rock & roll, funk, and original style R&B music would also be remembered more than 100 years after we're all gone as well, as a testament to the Chicano artists who made it happen over the many years it has existed ever since Lalo Guerreo first performed "Chigas Patas Boogie", and Don Tosti opened people's eyes with "Pachuco Boogie" in the 1940's.

I have written about many talented artists and groups that I have been privileged to make friends with and dance to their music, and now I present to you another one of the "big kids", the pride of Azusa, California, BALANCE.

For many years, I have danced and partied to the music of BALANCE at clubs & other locations around the City of Angels, and played it over the internet radio airwaves. Their sound is still as fresh and alluring as it was the first time I ever heard them live back in 1998.

9 members strong with a powerful 4 piece horn section, featuring lead singer and Chicano soul symbol Sammy Medina, BALANCE can take you on a musical voyage from 1960's to the present, with a hot powerful sound that captures your attention, including some killer cumbias, L.A. style.

Rivaling only Santa Ana's BARELA, and Santa Barbara's ANTHONY PRIETO BAND as a "wow" type, brass heavy, contemporary Soul~Funk band that epitomizes the adult California now sound, BALANCE can cover almost anybody, as well as bring out some of their original material, at the drop of a drumstick.

I had a chance to catch them live in concert recently at the Santa Fe Springs Swap Meet, where my Lady and I joined them and around 1,000 of their closest friends & fans to enjoy some great live music and dancing on a beautiful southern California Sunday afternoon.

The dance floor filled quickly, and we had a great time as BALANCE showed the Gente what's up with a great outdoor performance. They also announced their soon to be released CD at the upcoming Ruben Molina produced concert and dance show entitled "Soultown Saturday Nite" on February 19th, and performed a few cuts off it.

(the show also features the YOUNG HEARTS and RICH GARCIA & THE MIDNITE CRUZZERS~ for more info: www.ChicanoSoul.com)

Singer Sammy Medina, of course, seduced the crowd with his crooning of classic tunes, and drew screams of approval from the ladies when he stepped out into the audience, climbed on a table, dropped to his knees, and poured out his soul as he sang the Intruder's immortal ballad "I wanna know your name" to some lucky lady.

He and the band also whipped the crowd into a frenzy with their sizzling version of Archie Bell's "Tighten Up" that filled the dance floor shoulder to shoulder full. It was a straight out party the rest of the afternoon, and we all had a ball!

I had a chance to interview Sammy & the guys backstage briefly, and when asked what it felt like to still be performing to large crowds after all these years, they simply said " Hey Frankie‘«™we're just having fun‘«™" and THEY had fun the rest of the afternoon!

‘«™and that's the way it is in the Land of 1000 Dances!

Note: for more info on BALANCE ~ http://www.myspace.com/thebalancebandnet

About Frankie Firme ~ Contributing Editor:
Frankie Firme is the Al Capone of the microphone, and the Hitman of West Coast Chicano Soul heard daily on Internet radio station www.eastLArevue.com
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