Jammin' Up the Coast From L.A.

Pepe Marquez & the Flashbacks reunion pack 'em in at the 2010 Carpenteria Avocado Festival

By Frankie Firme ~ Contributing Editor
Published on LatinoLA: October 3, 2010

Jammin' Up the Coast From L.A.

?íOrale, Mi Gente!

Summer may be officially over in the calendar, but it's still hot and lively here in the Land of 1000 Dances. The music, the weather, the people, the food, the dancing...it's all here for your enjoyment...you just gotta decide which direction to turn... and I bet it won't be the City of Bell!

At the invitation of some very talented friends, my Lady and I decided to escape the surprise Saturday morning thunderstorms and rain that came upon our part of L.A. and headed up the coast to beautiful Carpinteria, a quaint little burg just north of L.A. and south of Santa Barbara, where the Annual Avocado Festival was happening this past weekend.

Live music, food, dancing, and partying by the sea while sampling some of the best weather and guacamole in the world attracted us northward, like the mythical winds of Aztlan over the land of the people Brown.

Word was out that PEPE MARQUEZ & The FLASHBACKS were making a reunion performance, plus powerful Santa Barbara crowd pleasers like the ANTHONY PRIETO Band and UPBEAT were also sharing the stage, along with the classic Chicano rock band MESTIZO.

My Lady and I escaped the morning rain and made it up there just after noon, where we were greeted by the fine aroma of cooking food and fresh ocean breezes, the sight of well over 5,000 smiling sun, food, and good time worshippers, and of course, laughter and music in the air.

Gotta tell you, the good people of Carpinteria sure are friendly, and put on a great party. A three day party celebrating life, the avocado harvest, and the end of summer in Califas....can't think of a better reason for music and dancing!

Just missing the last set of MESTIZO, some in the crowd assured me they didn't disappoint, as the seating and dance floor by the stage was still pretty crowded as we inched our way up near the stage after scoring on some truly ice cold beer and delicious food.

Coming up next, my friend ANTHONY PRIETO and his band took the stage to an excited crowd's enjoyment, as dancing under the sun is something I'm told the Gente of Carpinteria do best when the weather and music are just right...and Anthony and the guys were on it! Anthony gave the crowd what they wanted as he came off stage and crooned his original tune "Hot Summer Nights", that was appropriate for the moment. as the sun began to slowly set, and the crowd sang along...and surrounded him with love.

Spotted in the crowd getting their boogie on was singer ERSI ARVISU (of The SISTERS and EL CHICANO fame), EDDIE GARCIA (The COMPANY Band), and members of the San Fernando Valley Marine Corps League...plus a large mass of Gente from all over the state, here to enjoy the day together.

Next came the UPBEAT Band, a local powerhouse playing Reggae and Ska that whipped the crowd into a frenzy. People of all ages and colors jammed the dance floor in front of the stage and happily undulated in unison, as UPBEAT proved how uniting the art of music and dancing can be. It was obvious that they're a crowd pleaser, demonstrated by the large, overflowing dance floor of screaming fans, and I got caught up in the funky beat!

The party was peaking, and I felt like I was back home in L.A. ...everywhere I looked, there was smiling faces of people eating, drinking, laughing, and dancing...people holding their kids up and dancing with them, delicious food aroma in the air, fresh ocean breezes caressing everyone's back...

...and the stage was set for the stars of the day...

Along with UPBEAT, PEPE MARQUEZ and The FLASHBACKS are local coastal musical legends and favorites at the Avocado Festival in Capinteria, along with Santa Barbara and the surrounding areas for well over 20 years with good reason...they are seasoned performers with a great sound that draw crowds...and the crowd was now ready for the FLASHBACKS!

Coming on stage to thunderous welcoming applause, my good friend lead singer PEPE MARQUEZ introduced the members of this great group of talent, THE FLASHBACKS, that has since disbanded after a 20-year plus run, for their first public appearance in over three years...and it was evident that they are missed! The crowd was loud and proud!

The FLASHBACKS were simply flawless in their performance, with a killer brass section, and big league Latin percussion provided by one of San Fernando's favorite sons, Martin "Chili" Ortega (of the COMPANY band & SANGRIA band fame), making a most welcomed guest appearance. He gave up a hot, mouth opening solo that drew a standing ovation at mid-song.
...this guy can JAM!!

But the star of course, was the one and only PEPE MARQUEZ, who sang and danced his way back into everyone's hearts once again with a dynamic performance that had him dancing across the stage and getting the crowd to sing along, as the FLASHBACKS "wowed" the now standing room-only dance floor with a hot and snappy mix of Oldies, Disco, Old School, rock and roll, Latin Soul, and cumbias...almost starting a friendly "dance riot" during a snappy rendition of Archie Bell's "Tighten Up"...and I found myself out there worshipping the sun, with my Lady and dance, joining the hundreds that crowded on the dance floor as we all bid the setting sun a deserved good bye and thanks for an almost perfect day in Aztlan...

...afterwards, we joined Pepe Marquez, Ersi Arvisu, and others at the invitation of music producer/promoter and well known community activist John Cerda, the unofficial "Mayor" of Carpentineria, to an after-party at the Cerda family home, one of the oldest established families in Carpinteria...and the food, drink, and love flowed till after midnight.....

..perfect ending to a perfect day....and we drove home on a warm balmy evening listening to some great music, grateful to have the life, love, and friends we do!...thanks again, Pepe Anthony, and the good people of Carpinteria!....see you all next year!!

Note: For more info on Pepe Marquez music & appearances: www.pepemarquez.com

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