On Saturday, Chicano music lovers young and old (but mostly old--respect to my elders!) descended upon Santa Ana's Delhi Community Center for a concert teach-in. The lesson plan for the day was on the History of Chicano Music in Southern California--spanning four decades, the concert chronicled the musical history that helped shape and characterize life in Mexican American barrios and colonias. Organized by the good gente of the Orange County Mexican American Historical Society (OCMAHS), the afternoon event featured the talents of the house band The Recessions! (aptly titled for these hard economic times and the concert teach-in's five dollar suggested donation!) .
Comprised of many ex-members ofTierra
, the group performed through the event's playlist spanning Chicano music highlights from the '40s to the '70s.
In between sets determined by decade, OCMAHS Board President Harvey Reyes spoke at length about the historical background of each era. The dynamics of a teach-in meshed with music was strained at times, but The Recessions' covers were excellent and Reyes' presentations were very informative. Historic concert flyers, photos and other memorabilia lined the walls of the Delhi Community Center and audience members even took part in a question and answer session.
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Over the course of four hours, the sold-out event revived classics all the way from Don Totsi's "Pachucho Boogie" to El Chicano's "Viva Tirado." The latter was performed in tribute to the late Bobby Espinosa whose Hammond B3 Organ defined the Latin Jazz sounds that made the instrumental a radio hit for the band. About 300 people packed the place, and many took turns on the dance floor wearing retro fashion. At the end, who could be upset with a play list including War's "All Day Music," and Ritchie Valens' "Come On, Let's Go?"
The best of Chicano music was represented in full. Lalo Guerrero, Little Julian Herrera, Thee Midnighters and Los Lobos came alive all at one place all at one time. Proceeds went to benefit OCMAHS, a great community organization.
As Harvey Reyes himself noted, most of the bands of the evening were from OC's neighbor to the north, Los Angeles. There is a history of Chicano music in these lands below, but documentation and success stories are buried just beneath the surface of memory. If anyone out there has any contributions in these areas, contact OCMAHS and share the stories. That way, the next time the organization puts together another insightful event, it can feature more homegrown history and OC Chicano soul.