The final night of Festival Chicano brought out a lot of people, as always, but I’d never seen the Hill at Miller Outdoor Theater as packed as it was. The crowd, the energy, and the talent on Saturday made for a pretty special night.
Tejano icon Shelly Lares, still looking as young as when she started, reminded us that she was about to celebrate 34 years of being in the biz. It reminded me that I’d been a fan pretty much from the beginning of her recording career, at about the same time that another young talent was about to take the business by storm–Selena. They were buds, by the way. Lares and her band started out strong with a medley of cumbias, and she peppered the set with medleys of ranchera hits along the way. Tunes from the 90s through today were strong on the set-list: Soy Tu Amor, Ganas de Besarte, Es Que Estoy Enamorada, Mil Besos, Yo Quiero Saber and more. Volver Volver brought the house down, while her show-closing rendition of Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ was impressive. Lares showed much appreciation for the fans–and in this industry it’s the fans that keep the music alive.
Tejano crooner and David Lee Garza y Los Musicales alum Ram Herrera took the stage with The Outlaw Band and provided a powerful show of new and classic hits from his solo and Musicales career. Already on year 35 of a storied Tejano music career, Ram Herrera still has that magical voice. Amor Querido, La Mancha, Rosas Para Una Rosa, Ahora Dile, Entre Cantina y Cantina, Tragos Profundos, Tejanita, Yo Soy, The Chair, Amor y Besos…you know them all. He also offered up a couple of new tunes: Eres Mi Todo and Donde Estara. With a solid band backing him, he kept the crowd excited and singing along.
David Lee Garza is credited with launching the careers of Ram Herrera, Jay Perez, Marcos Orozco, and the late Emilio Navaira. Lately, he’s offered up a series of young vocalists who keep the band busy. Cezar Martinez has a unique voice that stays strong throughout a performance and last night was no different. From singing the early hits that were voiced by Herrera and Navaira to the 90s smashes of Perez and Orozco, Martinez delivered impressively. Los Musicales, in business for over 40 years, provided some amazing play that not many bands can equal live. New hits like El Privilegio (which included songwriter Juan Treviño on the bajo) and Niña Coquetera were positioned among classic tunes like Cuatro Caminos, De Que Te Quejas, Me Vuelvo Enamorar, Paloma Sin Nidal, Hasta Cuando, Dos Corazones, oh, the list goes on. We’ve come to love these guys because they’re humble, talented, and all about the music. And that’s exactly what they gave another packed house at Festival Chicano.
Congrats to Daniel Bustamante and the Festival Chicano crew on a 37th feat of musical awesomeness. No doubt, thousands of Chicanos were happy with the end-product, and we anxiously await the 38th. If anything, you may want to add a Sunday tardeada next year. (Kidding!) We just can’t get enough of our cultura.