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Festival Chicano Friday: Little Joe, Latin Breed, and Isabel Marie

Friday was another big night for La Onda Chicana. Thanks to Festival Chicano organizer, Daniel Bustamante, this one was one for the history books.

The evening began with a reminder from Bustamante:  Tejano is not dead. As much as the gringos in the business or the gringos at the rodeo want to tell us, it’s just not true. Thousands attending a weekend series of concerts ought to tell everyone this. Is it a struggle? Of course! But one only has to watch the musicians on stage to show that they love what they do. And the crowd loves them for it.

The most poignant reminder of the struggle was when Bustamante brought out the producer/promoter for 13 year-old Isabel Marie–one of the newest additions to the Tejano music industry. Abraham Quintanilla came out and offered a few words and also reminded us of that awful day 21 years ago. But that through all that has affected his family he continues to seek out and offer new talent shows his determination. Tejano isn’t dead.

isabelmarieIsabel Marie took the stage first and offered up a set of cumbias, rancheras, and even wowed us with her rendition of Selena’s No Me Queda Mas. At 13, she has a pretty powerful voice. As a stage performer, she is poised, but at 13, she also shows off that awkward stage a teen goes through. (If a crowd applauded me, I’d be a little geek’d out, so it’s understandable.) Still, she showed range, emotion, and the ability to keep a crowd engaged for an entire show. Great job, Isabel Marie. Keep at it!

adalbertoThe Legendary Latin Breed was up next with Adalberto Gallegos at the helm. Hundreds of years of experience took the stage–even Adalberto was a member at age 19 in 1976. Kicking off with 1988’s Latin Breed Medley, they continued on to Yo Lo Comprendo, Todos Dicen, and even ventured one of Adalberto’s solo hits from 1990, Tristes Recuerdos and a hit that I once owned on a 45 rpm record (kids, look that up), El Cisne. Adalberto wowed us with If You Need Me, too. All of this backed up by a precision-based horn section and the bass action of Stanley Revillas and guitaristics of Steve Velasquez.

littlejoeThe crowd loved every performance, but there was no doubt that they were waiting for The King of the Brown Sound–Little Joe. Another band of highly experienced, highly disciplined musicians, La Familia took off in fine form with a medley of Little Joe’s best ballads–Rebelde, Recuerdas Querido Amigo, and Por Un Amor. Then came Redneck Mes’kin Boy and Mi Nena. Then came some blues music with Lonely, Lonely Nights, which Little Joe delivered impressively, backed up by amazing horn and guitar action. Bass master Mike Torres, III delivered on cumbia El Alacran and percussionist Sam Jones on My Girl. The night continued with hit after hit, including Cartas Marcadas, and the big finish with Las Nubes and Borrachera. Of course, the encore brought folks back to their seats and then to their feet with a sing-a-long of Jose Alfredo’s classic, Ella.

In between, Little Joe reminded the crowd of thousands to register to vote–Mi Familia Vota will be there all three nights. Of course, he also gave ol’ Trump a tongue lashing, including, “Vamos a darle en la madre a Trump!” which basically is the equivalent of, “Let’s knock him the f*** out!” Great crowd response to that. Finally, Little Joe’s white duds were in honor of El Leon de la Sierra, Alfonso Ramos, who passed away this last week.

chicharronesNo doubt, by the end of a La Familia gig, one is tired but oh so happy. And after three performances by everything from new talent to two bands that have been around for five decades, one can take a Saturday morning to re-energize with some chicharrones con huevos and then return to Miller Outdoor Theater in the evening for David Lee Garza y Los Musicales, Ram Herrera and The Outlaw Band, and Little Miss Dynamite Shelly Lares.

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Event: 37th Festival Chicano ~ OCT 6, 7, 8, 2016

Time to lock-in Festival Chicano on your calendar! See you there! (Note:  Saturday line-up changed as Mazz is unable to make it. Ram Herrera added to the line-up with David Lee Garza headlining.)

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Little Joe Wows MOT Crowd–Again!

Little Joe y La Familia headlined Friday night’s line-up at the 36th Annual Festival Chicano. Energized by another SRO-out crowd–including thousands seated on the hill–La Familia returned the favor with an energized show packed with hits and a couple of surprises.

Ljoe1Heading toward 75, Little Joe has not lost the voice and stage presence that made him an international superstar who has recorded and toured with greats, such as Willie Nelson and Tierra. Kicking off the gig with a medley of his early hits, such as  Cuidadito and La Bola Negra, the hits continued. Even Little Joe felt the energy of the crowd when the they joined him on Prieta Linda.

One surprise was LJ giving the main mic to bassist Mike Torres, III who belted out the salsa-tinged cumbia, El Alacran. Later, Little Joe would belt out Cartas Marcadas, Chicano national anthem Las Nubes, Borrachera, Cuando Salgo a Los Campos, and the tried and true Pa’ Todo El Año.

In between, Little Joe would bring out Neal Sharpe who would offer some R&B, as well as Houston Jazz pianist/keyboardist and La Familia alumnus Gilbert Sedeño for an instrumental version of Mañana de Carnaval–flawlessly and without having rehearsed prior to the concert.

LjoeDanielA poignant moment came when Little Joe brought out Festival organizer/founder Daniel Bustamante to recognize his most recent achievement:  Recognition by Mayor Annise Parker as an Hispanic Heritage honoree for Arts in the Community. Daniel will receive his award on Monday, October 5. A well-deserved recognition after 36 years of organizing an even which attracts thousands of Chicanos/Mexican Americans for a weekend of beautiful music and culture.

Earlier in the evening, we enjoyed the sounds of Cañonazo and Acordeon powerhouse AJ Castillo. So, it was a great night of dancing in your seats (since the union ushers didn’t allow any dancing in the aisles.) The best way to celebrate this event is with friends and family and I was lucky enough to enjoy it with both. Until the next Festival Chicano, ¡Que viva La Musica Tejana!

Kudos to Council Member Robert Gallegos for attending the event. It was a great opportunity for some hand-shaking, especially during the hour-and-a-half prior to the event while folks were picnicking. Too bad other candidates didn’t take this opportunity to do the same; although, I did hear of a few at the other festival down the street. Anyway…

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Me and 10,000 of my closest friends.

Thursday: Leticia and Little Joe in Houston

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He’s been a very public supporter of Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte at his concerts, so, it is great to hear that Jose Maria de Leon Hernandez–Little Joe–will be in Houston on Thursday to rally support for Van de Putte.

Little Joe (and his brother Johnny who now lives in California) has deep roots in Texas political culture and has always been up to the task of rallying the people for anything having to do with voting, legislation, and even public health issues like diabetes. He’s still a prominent voice for change and progress, especially in the Mexican American community.

Here are the details for the rally and performance:

Houston THURSDAY 5:30pm
CWA Hall, 1730 Jefferson St., Downtown Houston
Featuring a performance by Little Joe!
Other speakers TDB

 

Because Hispanic Heritage Month!

 

 

 

OCT 2 – 4: 35th Annual Festival Chicano – Houston

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It’s that time of year, again! Three days of hanging out with la razita de Houston, la palomia, la gente. Get a little cultura in your life and join about 15,000 of your closest friends each night.