Lemoore, California: September 6, 2003
by Mark Guerrero
On September 6, 2003, I performed as a member of the legendary
Chicano/Native-American band Redbone. The venue was
the Palace Casino in Lemoore, California, which is in the
central part of the state. The band members, besides
myself on guitar and vocals were: Raven Hernandez, lead
guitar/vocals; Steve Roybal, drums; George Ochoa, keyboards/vocals;
and leader and founding member, Pat Vegas, bass/vocals.
Coincidentally, George Ochoa had been a member of my teenage
band The Men From S.O.U.N.D. in 1966. Small world and
smaller musical world. Getting back to 2003, we'd had
several rehearsals which prepared us for the concert, two
or three with the full band set up and a couple acoustically.
We had worked up more songs than we would need, but it's always
good to be prepared for any eventuality. Some of the
songs we worked up that we didn't do were Lolly Vegas' "Suzy
Girl," on which I was to sing lead with George on harmony,
"Maggie," "Clouds In My Sunshine," "Message
from a Drum," "Chant 13th Hour," and Redbone's
version of "Poison Ivy," It was a lot of fun
playing these songs because they're great songs that I really
like, my favorites being "Suzy Girl" "Chant
13th Hour," and "Clouds In My Sunshine."
The concert took place outdoors in the afternoon. I
don't know if the planners took it into account, but the sun
was right in our eyes and it was hot! At least in the
90s. The sunglasses helped a little with the brightness
of the sun, but there was nothing we could do about the heat.
Weather elements aside, we started our set with Redbone's
second top 40 hit, "Witch Queen of New Orleans."
This is a funky, swampy, voodoo song. Next we played
"Wovoka," another of my favorites. Pat Vegas,
like many other musical artists, doesn't use a set list because
he likes the spontaneity of calling the songs according to
what he feels the mood or situation requires. It also
keeps the band on their toes and ready for anything, which
can add to the energy and excitement of the performance.
In my concerts with my own band I prefer to have a set list,
but I have been known to stray from it due to the circumstances.
Artists work both ways depending on their preference.
I understand Bob Dylan doesn't use a set list either.
During this concert, Pat called a song I didn't know
and hadn't rehearsed, "Nicky Hoeky," written by
Pat and Lolly Vegas and a big hit for P.J. Proby in the 60s.
This is where my experience came in so I got through it all
right. We also played a reggae song called "Sacred
Land" written by Raven, the other guitarist in the band.
Next I sang lead vocal on the r&b classic "But It's
Alright." Redbone had recorded their version of
the song on one of their early albums. The finale was
Redbone's mega hit "Come and Get Your Love."
On the last choruses Pat invited some of the crowd on stage
to join us in the refrain. There must have been fifteen
or twenty additional people on stage for the last few minutes
of the extended version. After the show, Pat Vegas and
his brother Lolly, who had come up for the show, were presented
with an award. It had something to do with the fact
that they were originally from the area and were a source
of pride for their accomplishments in music. (Pat and
Lolly grew up in the Fresno area which is not far from Lemoore.)
For those who don't know, Lolly hasn't been able to play guitar
or perform since a stroke he had in the late 90s. Following
us on the bill and closing the show was the excellent r&b
band Rose Royce.
After a great dinner in the casino's best restaurant, we went
back to the hotel. Later, we all went to visit Lolly
Vegas in his room. I had spoken to Lolly on the phone
a couple of times, but had not met him in person until that
afternoon. We were all hanging around and talking with
Lolly and in a short time everyone had left the room but me.
Lolly and I talked for two or three hours. I also played
and sang his song "Suzy Girl" for him. Lolly
is a very intelligent man and an extremely talented musician.
I had heard of Pat and Lolly Vegas since I was in my early
teens so to play with Pat and meet and talk in depth with
Lolly was a memorable and significant experience for me.
I'm writing this article in July of 2005. Currently,
only Pat Vegas and George Ochoa remain in Redbone from the
lineup with which I played. Pat just finished a new
Redbone CD entitled "One World" with studio musicians
and some background vocals provided by George Ochoa.
Redbone marches on.
Redbone Concert at the Palace Casino
and link to Redbone Concert Photo Gallery below