For the Love of Brothers

Music & dancing to FUNK Cancer on the West Side in honor of Danny Boy Padilla

By Frankie Firme, Contributing Editor
Published on LatinoLA: March 10, 2015

For the Love of Brothers

The curse of cancer and the love of music & familia can have a harmonious effect on people in the Land of 1000 Dances.

So many fundraisers to aid in research & care for those suffering from this dreaded disease that affects over a million people a year bear witness that our people are not giving up hope as we used to in years past, and the battle cry of "Funk Cancer!" grows louder & prouder among the music lovers and music stars de Aztlan.

That being said, the Fraternal Order of Eagles Hall in West L.A. was the setting this past weekend as the famed Chicano Music Soul Sounds of the East Side was embraced by the good Gente of the West Side, and a great party was had in honor of percussionist Danny "Danny Boy" Padilla.

Danny Boy has been a performer and supporter of causes for many years, and along with his famous brother, singer Rocky Padilla, has appeared at numerous fundraiser causes in support of others, even after contracting cancer himself.

Much like famed singers Sammy Medina, Becky Cordova, and Monibee Henley, who refuse to let cancer stop them in life or their love of music, Danny Boy continues to travel to gigs despite his pain, "funking cancer" and continuing to perform.

If you've ever seen a good drummer, conguero, bongero, or timbalero at work, you know how much physical strength & stamina it takes to be a true percussion artist practicing his or her trade while performing 2, sometimes 3 sets a gig with a band.

Danny Boy Padilla is one of them.

I first met Danny Boy Padilla about 11 years ago at a Summer function we both did at the invitation of KUCR FM's Angel Baby in Riverside, California.

We both arrived at a stage at one end of a large fiesta just as the popular Inland Empire group A LITTLE BIT OF SOUL, formerly known as the DUPREMES, were setting up. We didn't see Angel Baby anywhere, but we assumed we were in the right place. I talked to members of the band to get some quick intro information when this sharp-looking guy in a 3-piece suit carrying congas & bongos walks up and asks "Where do I set up?"

I didn't know who he was, as Litlle Bit of Soul was a 3-man group, so I asked.

He smiles and says,"I'm Danny Padilla. Rocky's brother. I got asked to play today."

One of the band members says, "Wow,I heard of you! You can set up right over here. Glad to have you, man!" and Danny sets up his congas & bongos on stage.

I introduced myself, we chatted and both laughed how we were the first ones here ahead of Rocky and other artists.

I make a few announcements before introducing the band, and it was on.

From the start, it was evident that Danny was adding some Latino "kick" to the Little Bit of Soul Band, and the crowd loved it.

After a killer hour-long set in 100 degree weather (It gets REALLY hot in Riverside in the Summer) Danny Boy starts packing up his stuff, as he and the band shake hands and start getting ready to enjoy some well-deserved tacos & beers in the shade when one of the fiesta staff walks up saying, "Frankie! Danny! Where you guys been? Rocky & Angel Baby are looking for you guys. The band goes on in 10 minutes!"

Danny & I exchange glances & smile....we were at the wrong stage!

I was expecting Danny, who was soaked in perspiration, to pack his stuff and carry it out to his car and call it a day, when he smiles and asks "Can you help me carry some of his stuff, Frankie? I'm supposed to play with Rocky & my Dad."

...So here's these two Chicanos in black suits & ties carrying congas & bongos across the fiesta grounds in 100 degree weather to a stage on the other side of the fair grounds....Chicano Blues Brothers or Men in Black?

Anyways, we make it to the stage where Danny Boy calmly & quickly sets up, I walk up onstage after a few minutes and introduce the band, and Bamm! It was on again, with Danny Boy giving up another killer performance with another band for over an hour that left him exhausted & dripping with sweat.

Never complaining, he earned his tacos & beers afterwards ...and I gained a new respect for Danny Boy Padilla and percussionists that day, that I carry to this day.

Over the years I've seen Danny Padilla at numerous events in support of others, including a couple of mine, and he's always been such a gentleman, willing to step up & help out ... hell, he once even helped me load my DJ equipment onto my truck after a gig one night, while dressed in a 3 piece suit!.

So it was apropos that I shared the honor of being involved with some of L.A.'s best musical artists, as we gave Danny Boy Padilla some love back in a musical way.

Besides his famous brother Rocky, Danny was joined on stage by brother L.A. percussionists Mike Castanon, Richard "Shorty" Sedillo, and David Rhodes, TIERRA's Rudy Salas and Bobby Navarrette, L.A. guitar killers Ronnie Reyes and Ray Carrion, singer Techeetah Lopez, drummer Robert Medina, and keyboardists Tony Hernandez, and Akane Tada, while I was honored to serve as Host & DJ for the night.

Together, this fine assembled cast of music stars and the large attending crowd packed the Eagles Hall with music, love, and dancing into the midnight hour, helping the Padilla family raise needed funds for Danny's mounting medical expenses, and in preparation for yet another upcoming round of chemotherapy.

One of the highlights of the night was Rudy Salas & Bobby Navarrette, two of the original members of TIERRA, performing their 1982 classic hit "Together" as the packed dance floor came alive and sang along. Both of them were on the original recording that gained international recognition.

Another highlight was an impromptu guitar duel by Ronnie Reyes & Ray Carrion, in one of those "you had to be there" moments in time.

Here was Ronnie Reyes, representing the Old School of East L.A. Chicano sound, having performed with the likes of The Atlantics and Cannibal & The Headhunters, and Ray Carrion, current reigning L.A. guitar king representing the next generation and having performed with the likes of Azteca, El Chicano, and Tito Puente, facing off mid-song and playfully "getting it on" taking turns at lead guitar riffs, as the band & dancing audience simply stared in admiration with our mouths hanging open.

Here were two masters showing their stuff...and I joined the crowd in loudly cheering for a moment that may never happen again...and I was glad I was there to see it live!

It's these kinds of moments that bring out the emotions, colors, artistry appreciation, and memories in time music brings to those of us who appreciate good music and good times among our people in the Land of 1000 Dances.

Afterwards, a tearful Danny Boy Padilla thanked the crowd and musicians, getting a well deserved hug from his mother and a standing ovation from the crowd for performing the entire night.

...as usual, He performed tirelessly, never complained, didn't miss a beat, and showed us all that his love of music & people will continue in his fight to Funk Cancer!

Git on witcho bad self, Danny!...you earned your tacos and beer tonight, Carnal!

About Frankie Firme, Contributing Editor:
Frankie Firme is the Al Capone of the microphone & the Hitman of West Coast Chicano Soul heard daily on www.eastLArevue.com and is a regular contributor to LatinoLA
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