For the Love of a Sister: Becky Cordova

Once again, L.A.'s best comes out for one of their own...a tribute to The Diamond of the San Fernando Valley

By Frankie Firme, Contributing Editor
Published on LatinoLA: June 29, 2015

For the Love of a Sister: Becky Cordova

Like a 1000 kisses from souls up above and beyond the clouds of Aztlan, once again the talent & love of the Land of 1000 Dances belies any ugliness or negativity that purveys our World at the moment....

Last Saturday was one of the biggest and finest displays of music tribute to a beautiful Lady who has entertained thousands for many years, and the response from her friends & fans was a beautiful & fitting testament to the love of the Art of music and the Lady herself.

Becky Cordova, aka "The Diamond of the San Fernando Valley" has been battling cancer for over 9 years, while continuing to travel & perform with not one, but 2 bands, as well as joining in with other bands for an occasional night.

Her voice & presence on stage has been an ongoing source of inspiration to many who know her, and who have suffered or have somebody close to them who have suffered from the same affliction.

The San Fernando Moose Lodge in Sylmar, California, was the setting on Saturday, June 20th, as some of California's finest music artists from the current Latino/Chicano Rock/Funk/R&B/Soul/Latin Soul/Blues music community stepped up and came together for one of the biggest concerts in the San Fernando Valley in many years in the continuing music battle to "Funk Cancer."

I was honored to serve as House DJ and MC, along with my brother East L.A.Revue Radio DJ's Richard "Sugarbear" Navarro, Chico Manqueros, & DJ/performer Mike "Timebomb" Castanon, as 8 bands and many guest artists put on the show of shows that will be talked about for years!

Mine and Sugarbear's Ladies Josie & Marti ( aka the "better half" of the Fearsome Foursome ) were MORE than instrumental in helping organizing, decorating, and recruiting volunteers, while overseeing the administrative needs, even supplying food & refreshments for the army of performers. THankS LadieS !!

First up, L.A.'s "Mr. Brown Eyed Soul" himself, HANK CASTRO (of Thee Midniters, Cold Blood fame) came up and opened the show with his trademark Chicano Soul Oldies, "wowing" the crowd with his emotional rendition of "The Town I Live in" which he dedicated to Becky, closing his set with a heartfelt dedication and shout out to Becky as his "Sister in song" as he closed with "I'll make it easy".

Next up, The King of Chicano R&B, ROCKY PADILLA, came on stage, also giving a heartfelt & emotional dedication to Becky, initially crooning solo, then he was joined by drummer Paul Florez, Guitarst Sol Rodriguez, Keyboardist Ray Cordova, percussionist Jay Pacheco, bass guitarist Jesse Vasquez, and singer Mike Castanon for a rousing set that got the dance floor going.

After that, Lady Lava Gonzalez and The RHYTHM SYNDICATE Band, featuring guitarist Chris Reserva, came on stage and gave up some timeless classic rock, ending her set with her trademark blues song "Someday, someday, after awhile" that she emotionally dedicated to Becky and me, which watered more than a couple of eyes in appreciation! (Thanks, Lava!)

Following Lava & The Rhythm Syndicate, BOBBY MARTINEZ & The BROTHERHOOD Band, one of the heavy hitters of the San Fernando Valley, and one of the groups Becky had toured & performed with up until recently, came on to an emotional welcome, and kept the good dancing music going. Afterwards, all the band members told me backstage " This is for our girl Becky...we wouldn't have missed this for the World !", before leaving for a scheduled gig across town.

Coming up next, in one of the more emotional moments of the night, Chuck Herrera, who promoted some of the more successful early shows of The COMPANY Band years ago, with whom is Becky Cordova is best known for being their lead singer for many years, came up and made a short dedication speech, reminding everybody of Becky's talent, her fight with cancer, and how he was inspired to publicly tag Becky "The Diamond of the Valley" so many years ago.

On that note, he introduced the Company Band, who performed some of Becky's more well known tunes, with lead singer Veronica Carrillo & bandleader Eddie Garcia making emotional dedications. Towards the end of the set, the Company went into a beautiful smooth jazz mode, as saxophonist John Burrolla walked out into the audience in mid song, climbed up on a chair and gave one of the more memorable solos of the night, which drew him a standing ovation.

Apropos for the moment & evening, BECKY CORDOVA herself was then brought onto the floor by her husband Ray & her family to a rousing & loud standing ovation. Despite feeling weak & in obvious pain, The Diamond of the Valley managed her trademark smile, and welcomed hugs & kisses of love from most of the performers & audience in the house, while we played her music, drawing tears & emotion .

After a long emotional moment & show of love, the show resumed, with Comedian Gilbert Esquivel coming up and helping us wipe away the tears with some well-timed & tasteful humor before introducing the next band.

The pride of Compton, THE SATISFACTION band, featuring the return of singer Eileen Benavides, came on and simply put the show on lock for Becky with a masterful performance of classic Rock & Soul, repeating their dedication to me & my Lady they gave us 13 years ago of "At Last", where me & my Lady shared our first slow dance & kiss.

Ironically, my Lady Josie & I met BOTH Eileen & The Satisfaction Band, and Becky & The Company Band on the same night, on our first date 13 years ago.

Next up, the show got seriously heavy with talent as L.A.'s leading "Top Gun" of popular west coast Latino/Chicano music, RAY CARRION ( El Chicano, Azteca) came on stage with his legendary Latin All Stars band, calling up on stage artists Hank Castro, Monibee Henley, TeCheetah Lopez, Sarah Morgan, Mike Castanon, Jimmy Espinosa of Thee Midniters, Tex Nakamura (of WAR fame), and Jay Pacheco ...talk about "Wow !"

Afterwards Pepe Marquez & the GROOVELINE Band of Santa Barbara, Becky's OTHER current band until recently came on stage joined by Ray Cordova, Shane Coleman, and Jesse Vasquez. Pepe gave another emotional tribute to Becky as she left the building, and then gave up a dazzling performance, crooning "Ain't no woman like the one I got", which had half the place singing along with him!.

Pepe then called up Gilbert Esquivel to join him in a couple of songs, before being joined by the KOOL KATZ Art & Kelly Galvan of San Jose, and Queen of the Inland Empire, singer Monibee Henley, for a killer finish that drew screams of appreciation and loud applause as they put a fanciful finish to the timeless dance tune "Tighten up" that had everybody in the house dancing.

Closing the show just before the midnight hour, [b]JD Hall and his fabulous Barry White Orchestra came on stage to the still standing room only house and rocked us all solid and smooth with his renown tribute to the legendary Barry White, with an impressive performance that drew a standing applause that ended the night with class & finesse.

Other noted musical guests that had a good time with the audience, but couldn't get squeezed onto the stage because of time constraints were Rik Cantu, Paul Ballesteros, Rene "Reenee" Flores, Ben Govea, Martha Vital, Ernie Medina, and comedian Ray Camacho[/b]...our sincere thanks for your financial contributions as well !

A big thanks to San Fernando Moose Lodge Board members for their gracious offer and assistance with overhead costs, to Board member Moices Cardenas or finding us a last minute cancellation date and hooking us up with just 3 week's time & notice, and to Board member Larry Hernandez , who personally funded and built the stage for the event, which is still standing after the biggest musical event in the San Fernando Valley in man years!

Most of all...a BIG thanks and a ton of love to the Gente that came from as far away as the Inland Empire, Central coast & Central California, Orange County, San Gabriel Valley and beyond, and of course the good Gente de Sylmar, San Fernando, and Pacoima, supporting & making this a most memorable & successful event!

The World may be in turmoil...but all is well in the Land of 1000 Dances when you have love & music.


About Frankie Firme, Contributing Editor:
Frankie Firme is the Al Capone of the microphone & The Hitman of West Coast Chicano Soul celebrating 16 years as the first Chicano DJ on Internet Radio in Los Angeles & 12 years as a regular contributor to this fine web magazine
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