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Lalo Guerrero Tribute Concert:  John Anson Ford Amphitheater
October 4, 2003


by Mark Guerrero

     On October 4, 2003, there was a tribute concert to my dad, Lalo Guerrero, at the John Anson Ford Amphitheater in Hollywood, produced by Rodri Entertainment for the benefit of the Mariachi USA Foundation.  The John Anson Ford Amphitheater is a beautiful 1241 seat outdoor amphitheater.  The lineup included Lalo Guerrero, Mark Guerrero & Radio Aztlán, Trio Los Panchos, Liz Torrez, Richard Montoya (of the comedy group Culture Clash), Edward James Olmos, Maria Elena Gaitan (Chola con Cello), Diana Ortelli, Mi Tierra Dance Company, and Maureen & Mariachi Oro Angelino.  The event was hosted by my brother, Dan Guerrero.

     The idea was to have the various artists perform songs written by my dad. I opened the show singing four of my dad’s songs, “Los Chucos Suaves,” “Me Gusta El Cha Cha Cha,” “Muy Sabroso Blues,” and “Tin Marin De Do Pingue,” accompanied by my band, Radio Aztlán.  The set went extremely well and we got an excellent response from the audience.  The members of my band for this concert included Bobby Dominguez, drums; Leo Valenzuela, bass; Frank Josephs, keyboard; Al Lopez, sax, flute, and clarinet; Aaron Guerrero Routtenberg, congas and timbales; and yours truly on guitar and lead vocals.  Mexican actress Diana Ortelli performed next as Reynalda of “La Minifalda de Reynalda.”  Diana came out in a sexy miniskirt, complimented by a green wig and accompanied by the Mi Tierra Dance Company.  They danced to my dad’s recording, which has both norteńa and rock & roll sections.  The audience enjoyed the performance, which was well done with the humor that the song requires.  My band and I returned to back up comedian Liz Torrez on “There’s No Tortillas,” which she did in an operatic style.  The lyrics, which are sung to the melody of “It’s Now Or Never,” begin with:

“I love tortillas and I love them dearly
You’ll never know dear just how sincerely
I love the corn ones y tambien de harina
Oh how I dread to eat with bread, believe me
There’s no tortillas, there’s only bread
There’s no tortillas, and I feel so sad
My grief I cannot hide, there’s no tortillas for my refrieds”

During the musical interlude, Liz tossed corn tortillas into the audience frisbee style to the amusement of the people in the audience as well as on the stage.  Soon tortillas were good naturedly being tossed back onto the stage by some audience members.  To say the least the number loosened up the Hollywood audience.  We then backed comedian Richard Montoya on “No Chicanos on TV.” However, before the song, Richard did about five minutes of hilarious, irreverent stand up.  One of his biggest laughs came when he warned the audience not to throw tortillas at him because he was from East L.A. and would kick their ass.  He went on to perform “No Chicanos on TV” effectively with his unique comic style.  The song begins with the lyric:

“I think that I shall never see
Any Chicanos on TV
It seems as though we don’t exist
And we’re not ever even missed
And yet we buy and buy their wares
But no Chicanos anywhere”

Mi Tierra Dance Company followed with a great dance number “Remembering Zoot Suit.”  They danced with the style and spirit of the era depicted in the Luis Valdez play and movie “Zoot Suit,” which featured songs written and recorded in the period (the late 40s) by Lalo Guerrero.

     After an intermission, the legendary Trio Los Panchos performed several songs, including my dad’s classic, “Nunca Jamas,” first recorded by the original Trio Los Panchos in the mid-fifties.  The current trio sounds every bit as magnificent as the original group.  Their tenor vocals in perfect harmony along with their superb guitar work was absolutely world-class.  They had performed at the same theater the previous week and stayed in town to participate in the tribute.  At this point chairs around circular tables with table clothes were put on the stage, nightclub style.  Edward Olmos, Liz Torrez, Richard Montoya, my brother, and other performers sat around them, while my band and I, along with the mariachi, sat around the steps at the back of the stage.  My dad came out and sat center stage and performed his great song “Barrio Viejo,” accompanied by his guitar and Maria Elena Gaitan on cello.  The cello effectively added emotion to an already beautiful and emotional song.  My dad then did an unplanned solo number called “El Carnalito,” which advises Chicano youth to stay away from drugs and gangs. My band and I returned to perform my tribute song to my dad, “The Ballad of Lalo Guerrero.”  It’s a song I wrote back in 1992 and first performed solo the same year at a tribute to my dad at the McCallum Theater in Palm Desert, CA.  This time I sang the song with the backing of my band and was very happy with the results.  It was particularly emotional for me since my dad was sitting a few feet away from me while I sang the song.  We then backed up my dad on his corrido of Chicano pride, “El Chicano.”  This finale was done with the entire cast on stage, many dancing to the polka beat.  When the song was over, the energy on the stage and in the audience was such that I spontaneously went into a reprise of “Los Chucos Suaves” and the party continued.  The audience and performers had a great time on this special night.

     Notables in attendance included legendary guitarist and record producer, Ry Cooder; Mexican rock en Espańol band, Maldita Vecindad; and Alex Hasilev of the legendary folk group, The Limeliters.

 


For more information on the Mariachi USA Foundation visit:

mariachiusa.org
 

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