Otra Vez en San Fernando

The fight against cancer takes on a talented twist with some talented people in the Land of 1000 Dances

By Frankie Firme ~ Contributing Editor
Published on LatinoLA: May 14, 2011

Otra Vez en San Fernando

Once again, members of the community, and the Veterans of the San Fernando -Pacoima-Sylmar area, along with some great talent from the Chicano music scene, got together and proved that the "SI, SE PUEDE" spirit is not dead in the Land of 1000 Dances when it comes to noble and worthy causes.

The historic San Fernando American Legion Hall was once again the place to be as Rachel "Ya-Ya" Briones, her family, friends, and the members of the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life TEAM MOMMIE put together a great dance show that helped raise needed money for cancer treatment, services and research.

A most noble cause, and a most gallant fight, against a disease that has had a devastating effect on this and other families and communities.

The men and women of the San Fernando Valley Marine Corps League Detachment 1277 and the American Legion Post 176 threw in their support by providing the venue, security, maintenance, and some generous donations, while joining the party and large crowd on the dance floor.

We saw it not only as a fight to preserve and improve the quality of life, but as a party to celebrate life that we were all fighting for...something Military Veterans are VERY familiar with!

CARRILLO's & EL TARASCO Restaurants of San Fernando provided some delicious food for the evening, with CARRILLO's even throwing in a little extra when another previously pledged restaurant supporter was embarrassingly absent from the scene despite their promise to help out and feed the supportive attendees and entertainers...
(NO names need be mentioned...the Gente de San Fernando feel NO need to smear the egg on your face in public...but YOU know who you are !)

But despite that flake out...we ALL had a good time!

As host, MC, & house DJ, I was honored to be there, along with my brothers & sisters of the SFV Marine Corps League, SF American Legion, and generous media support from LatinoLA, East L.A. Revue Radio, and Chicano Express Radio...we had another nice packed house for an evening of smiles, laughter, dancing,and hope!

After spinning some tunes during dinner, I introduced the fabulous BLUES STRAIGHT UP band, led by "Big Mike" Rincon. They came on stage and wowed the crowd with some serious down home Blues music that got everyone into the mood for a comfortable and warm evening of togetherness, as we all dined and mingled, while chillin' to the Blues.

The band played flawlessly as expected.

Also as expected, lead singer LAVA GONZALEZ was her usual dynamic self, providing some great vocals along with her feminist wisecracks and sarcastic blues lyrics that just seemed to set the tone for evening of hope & future, inviting screams of approval from the ladies in the house on such killer tunes as "those damn eyes", "You can have my husband but don't mess with my man", " You don't have to talk much", and closing off the performance with the ever hopeful & soulful "Someday, someway, after awhile.." that just seemed to set the tone for evening of hope & future,as many in the audience were cancer survivors or family members of victims of cancer, including band leader Mike Rincon.

The lightning-fast finger work of master keyboardist JAIME AVILA drew "wows" and and a couple of ovations, both during and after his performance of "wine, wine, wine".

In between sets, comedians WOLFY HERNANDEZ and ROBERT ZAPATA gave us funny bone tickling routines.

Afterwards, Tejano singing star JOHNNY HERNANDEZ came on stage and honored us with some great renditions of the Lil Joe & Latinairres/Familia classics "Mil Besos", "Las Nubes" and "Rebelde" that brought standing ovations.

Man! Just standing off stage watching that Brutha performing those Tejano tunes that I've admired for over 35 years sent chills up my spine ! THANK YOU, Carnal !

Afterwards, to get the folks in the mood for a change in music genres (Ha! everybody was so full and mellow from food & the Blues, comedians, and classic Tejano) , the lovely VALENTINA ESTRADA came up and got the veteranos & their ladies dancing with a couple of Doo-wop & rock & roll tunes off her new CD "Oldies...relived". Girl got style!

Coming all the way from Las Vegas, she announced that she too, had loved ones who had been affected by cancer, and it was important to be here tonight, joining in the fight against cancer, and what better "army" to join but the Veterans and great Gente de San Fernando, and the musical talent assembled for the night.

Thank you, ma sista !

Then, GEORGE SALAZAR's 2nd TIME AROUND Band from East L.A. hit the stage full force with lead singer GILBERT STOKES (of EL CHICANO & APB fame) leading the charge.

The crowd was treated to classic oldies, R & B, Rock &Roll and a taste of disco. What Gilbert can do with Smokey Robinson's "Ooh, Baby, Baby," and Chicago's immortal "Happy Man" is something you just had to be there to witness, as he and the band took it to another level, hitting such high notes that I would wager Earth, Wind, and Fire's Phillip Bailey or singer Mariah Carey would have sat up, took notice, and said, "Damn!" if they had been there.

Drummer & band leader GEORGE SALAZAR (original THEE MIDNITERS fame) is also a cancer survivor, with recent news that his 5-year-old grand nephew had just been diagnosed with cancer.

"It was important for me & the band to be here tonight," George told me back stage. "We want to be part of this fight!"...and he & the band played their hearts out till past midnight to the delight & appreciation of the crowd, receiving more than a few invitations to come back.

So the fight is on, and the first steps have been taken to invite YOU all to join us at San Fernando Park on July 9th for the 24 hour Relay for Life event.

Live entertainment, food, refreshments, and a whole lot of people will be camping out, sharing the love & hope, sense of community & family, and joining in the fight against cancer in memory of those gone, and in honor of those affected.

Won't YOU join us?

Note: For more info on the San Fernando Relay for Life event, or to make a generous contribution, or to volunteer, call Rachel "Ya-Ya" Briones at 818-402-9268

Click here to "Like" TEAM MOMMIE'S Facebook Page

About Frankie Firme ~ Contributing Editor:
Frankie Firme is the Al Capone of the microphone & the Hitman of West Coast Chicano Soul
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