Brothers Helping a Brother

L.A.'s Chicano Music elite fall out for a fundraiser for a brother artist in the Land of 1000 Dances

By Frankie Firme ~ Contributing Editor
Published on LatinoLA: January 11, 2011

Brothers Helping a Brother

Like a scene from another time not so long ago, some of L.A.'s & Orange County's best R&B - Funk - Rock & Roll musicians fell out in support of Tower of Power's Steve "Doc" Kupka and his wife Yvonne.

Having recently survived liver transplant surgery, Yvonne needed some help in covering medical expenses, and what better way to raise funds for a good cause for a good friend while making it a party for the generous donors of Aztlan but to have a concert & dance that would draw everyone together?

That being considered, friends Sal Rodriguez Productions and Geronimo Productions gathered some of the best artists in the Land of 1000 Dances this past Sunday, inviting everybody down to the A MI HACIENDA RESTAURANT Grand Ballroom, on Whittier Boulevard down by the river in Pico Rivera, for one of the best good old fashioned Chicano Music concerts and dances in a long, long time.

I was honored to share co-host duties with the one and only comedian GILBERT ESQUIVEL , and the show was on, easily selling out to capacity, with some of the best-looking party people Brown you ever saw!

Gilbert, of course, was in his element, warming up the crowd, making us all laugh, and making everybody feel welcome and part of something significant.

DOWN WITH 3, featuring the legendary Brothers Mondragon, opened up with some fine funk & R&B, easily getting people up to dance before the first drink was even half gone!

Coming up after that, I had the privilege of addressing the crowd before introducing East L.A.'s reigning Kings of East Side Brown Soul, TIERRA, and the guys were on the J-O-B , with Billy Mondragon pulling double duty on vocals.

Next batter up, Gilbert introduced the veteran Chicano rock funk band, COLD DUCK, but not before recognizing such artists in the crowd as singers LAVA GONZALEZ (Blues Straight up), BERTHA OROPEZA (CHICO), and Internet/Cable TV's THEE Mr. DURAN.

THE L.A. RHYTHM KINGS came on next, giving up a great performance of Soul & TOP 40 jams, while other artists from other groups jumped in on horns & percussion, turning it up a notch.

Next I introduced SAL RODRIGUEZ, and his ALL STAR Band, which indeed included some All Star friends invited from other popular bands, including bass player EDGAR SALAS (SATISFACTION Band, EL CHICANO), the brass section of TIERRA , BERTHA OROPEZA (CHICO) at vocals, SAL RODRIGUEZ (of WAR) at drums, and a few other talented artists, for some rousing Salsa, Latin Soul, Latin Funk, and some good old fashioned rock & roll, with SAL finishing the set playing drums while standing up on his drummer's stool for a dramatic finish of panache. Crowd loved it, too.

I spotted East L.A. Revue Radio's STEVEN CHAVEZ and EL SAPO, making the rounds & rubbing shoulders, along with singers SARA MORGAN and GILBERT STOKES, and keyboard master JOEY GUERRA.

I ran into Doc Kupka backstage, and he was truly touched by the outpouring of love and support from the Gente "down south" of Oakland.

"It's really something that all the good people from L.A. and beyond would come out and support us, and our cause like this," Steve told LatinoLA , "This kind of love is what makes music and entertaining people the art that it is.... I mean, look at all those people out there! I won't ever forget this, and I thank you all!"

Of course, it didn't hurt to be a founding member of one of the finest west coast music groups of the 20th Century, who helped put California on the Soul & Funk music map all around the World for almost 40 years....but he didn't need to be told that...

(... least not by one of Tower of Power's biggest fan since the early 70's standing in front of him...) I'm sure he felt the love in the air.

...the event drew so many of L.A.'s & Orange County's top artists together in a musical and respectful show of unity and brotherhood that's been missing lately...such a warm feeling and sense of belonging was felt on stage, on the dance floor, in the audience, and in the air....along with the great smell of food coming from the A MI HACIENDA kitchen!

The moment was poised for the star closers of the evening, the pride of Santa Ana, California, the incomparable BARELA BAND, with special guest, singer SAMMY MEDINA of the BALANCE Band.

What better group to end the show than one of the most Tower of Power-inspired and powerfully talented music groups in Southern California, BARELA. These guys "do" Tower of Power music better than any contemporary bands making the current rounds right now...quote me!

Bringing back hard hitting brass rock & soul sounds of such classic groups as CHICAGO, BLOOD,SWEAT, and TEARS, but most notably TOWER OF POWER (with a 5-piece horn section at that!), BARELA made their mark in the Land of 1000 Dances this evening, filling up the dance floor to capacity while ending the evening with energy, verve, and class....impressing everyone in the house!

...their encore song: "This Time It's Real"....

Note: comments and photos of this wonderful are available on facebook now.

About Frankie Firme ~ Contributing Editor:
Frankie Firme is heard daily on World Wide Internet radio station eastLArevue.com and is a regular contributor to this fine web magazine
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