She's Back! Denise Benavides Sparks a Hot Sunday Night

One of the highlights of the night came as she closed the song in her now legendary long, powerful, heartfelt vocal roll

By Frankie Firme, Contributing Editor
Published on LatinoLA: July 5, 2017

She's Back! Denise Benavides Sparks a Hot Sunday Night

Summer's here in California's Land of 1000 Dances...and along with the heat, it's time to dress cool, step out, live life, and enjoy hot music and good times .

One thing about good times, is that it has a way of bringing back good memories, and hopefully , bringing good people back into the fold.

Over the past 20 years, despite being virtually ignored by the mainstream music media and Hollywood, the Chicano Rock & Soul Music World has continued to flourish, albeit mainly on the West Coast and southwestern states, with a growing trend in places like Las Vegas and Laughlin, Nevada.

Los Angeles-area Chicano Music Promoters/Supporters like Steven Chavez & East L.A. Revue Radio, Ray Carrion, Thee Mr. Duran, Geronimo Garcia, Chico Manqueros, Ruben Molina, myself, and a growing list of others, including the Inland Empire's Thee Angel Baby and UC Riverside's RADIO AZTLAN have seen the value to our people in keeping alive the music our people love and dance to in a celebration of life...and a long list of talented performers owe their continued relevancy to that.

That being said, I am always so happy when I am invited to a "blast from the past" event that involves Chicano Music talent, and last weekend was no exception in The Land of 1000 Dances as 4 of my favorite Lady singers came together and put on a great show for a fortunate few last Sunday at Bruce's in Santa Fe Springs.

First and foremost, Denise Benavides (formerly known as Eileen), the former lead singer of veteran L.A. Band SATISFACTION, came out of semi-retirement and joined her former band mate Chris "Lil' Santana" Reserva and the HARBOR GROOVE Band for 2 killer sets that brought back a lot of memories and fans....and had us all dancing to the music!

Still as beautiful as the first time my Lady and I saw her on stage at the old Lakewood Hop 15 years ago, Denise proved that she hasn't lost a step, as she belted out tunes in both English and Spanish, smiling, dancing, and engaging the audience in her trademark performance style that stole a thousand hearts just a few years ago.

As many followers of LatinoLA remember, I wrote a couple of stories back in the day about Denise's exceptional performance of Etta James's classic ballad "At Last", which "Eileen" and the SATISFACTION Band dedicated to my Lady and I the night we met them, which also happened to be our first date 15 years ago prior to the release of their second CD.

This night, 15 years later, she did again, openly dedicating the song to us as the dance floor filled, and Denise sang & danced her heart out on stage.

Of course, one of the highlights of the night came as she closed the song in her now legendary style of a long, powerful, and heartfelt vocal roll that got EVERYBODY'S attention and earned her a standing ovation !

After a short break, the second set started with special guest legendary L.A.Chicana crooner LAVA GONZALEZ (of Lava & the Hot Rocks, Blues Straight Up Band fame and currently lead singer of LAVALuV and The RHYTHM SYNDICATE), coming up on stage and belting out a couple of her popular Blues tunes that rocked the house.

As if that weren't enough to cover the the cost of cover charge and a couple drinks for the night, another special guest performer, MAREVA ALLEN, former lead singer of the popular band KAOS, joined her former KAOS band mates keyboardist Wardell Hebert, and guitarist Jimmy Rodriguez, along with drummer & HARBOR GROOVE bandleader Sal Fregoso, veteran bassist Jesse Trevino and of course Mr. Chris Reserva, and Mareva belted out some killer Oldies that got her a great loud ovation.

Denise came back on stage after that, flashing her trademark smile while complimenting her two sister singing Veterans and joking "Well...I guess I got my work cut out for me", after which she and The HARBOR GROOVE hit "the mark" and went into a killer set which seemed to rejuvenate the band into "acting 25 again", as Sal Fregoso sang a couple of killer uplifting tunes while adding some drum solos, Jimmy Rodriguez & Chris Reserva took turns giving up guitar solos, and Denise performed another of her trademark cover tunes "Black Velvet" in perfect chorus with keyboardist/vocalist Wardell Hebert, who also added some energizing keyboard solos.

fter another short break Grooveline Band's current lead singer LULU CARDONA made a surprise appearance (aside from her announced absence ) and finished off the show with a good set, acknowledging sister performers Denise, Lava, and Mareva in style from the stage...

...and that's the kind of love & music we have in The Land of 1000 Dances .

Author's Note: Welcome back, Denise!

About Frankie Firme, Contributing Editor:
Frankie Firme is the Al Capone of the microphone and the Hitman of Chicano Soul heard daily on World Wide Internet Radio Station www.eastLArevue.com and is a regular contributor to this web magazine since 2001.
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