Last night at Slim’s was the first Headline show for my beautiful friend Blanca Sandoval. I was worried about how she would hold up because I knew that she had been sick since Wednesday. When I greeted her on the sidelines, she gave me a hug and I joked with her about how hot she was (probably a slight fever and just plain ass nerves). I wished her luck and went back to being a social butterfly…hanging with members of La Ventana and meeting some great new friends.
The first act up was Secrecy, who I’d never seen and was unaware that they were an R&B Band and featured my friends (and Latin Rock greats), guitarist Johnny Delacruz and conguero Delbert Ojeida. Since R&B ranks right alongside Latin Rock in my favorite music genres, I was not disappointed. Great vocals with a Latin beat thrown in were a great combination.
Next up was En Vivo, and although several of their songs were Santana covers, I was pleasantly surprised and at times it reminded me of versions Santana played on the Sacred Fire-Live in Mexico City DVD. They did a fantastic version of Samba pa Ti taken from that DVD.
Then…up comes Blanca, who was introduced by Dr. Rock (Bernardo Gonzales) as the “Sweetheart of Latin Rock, Inc” and I couldn’t agree with him more. I was amazed at her following, including children who sat on the floor in front of the crowd. You could tell that she was not feeling well, and after her opening song she announced that she’d been sick all week and that her voice was a little hoarse. As she went through her songs, her energy seemed to pick up and at one point requested a cough drop, bass player Oscar Tablada came up with one, another was delivered by someone in the crowd. During her performance, Blanca continued to smile and belt ‘em out, I was amazed at her composure and self-confidence, she had only one thing in her mind…give her fans a great show. In between songs, she was sipping from a bottle of water and something else I couldn’t identify, she later mentioned it was olive oil (Yuk), but it did a great job of keeping her vocals oiled and alive.
I had only seen Blanca once before and would not have missed her first headline, no matter what the reason. I was not disappointed with Blanca and her band and will make it a point to go to all of her shows.
Blanca, my dear…You are a Real Trooper.
Bob Sandoval - Blanca Sandoval at Slims/ A real Trooper! (May 17, 2010)
Saturday night’s concert at the Avalon Nightclub in Santa Clara will go down as being an historical music event; it will be talked about for years to come. The people who came were anticipating a great night of music; the artists did not disappoint them. It turned out to be a night of non-stop excitement that will be remembered as one of the best Latin Rock concerts of 2010. The show was presented in conjunction with Dr. Rock and Latin Rock, Inc. and the Avalon, what is becoming a powerful companionship of production magic. The bill included; Blanca Sandoval (The Sweetheart of Latin Rock, Inc.”), the Kool Katz and the incomparable Escovedo Family Orchestra, which included Pete, Sheila, Peter Michael and Juan Escovedo.
Blanca came on stage and immediately a throng of her fans came onto the floor to get a closer view of the woman they love to watch perform. Blanca has a huge following in the Bay Area and it was evident that those in attendance were no strangers to her songs. As I looked around, many of them sang along, verse for verse, there were miles of smiles and cheers as she went through her set. Before and after her set, I had a chance to talk to all members of the band and their level of confidence and excitement was extremely high. Blanca has a powerful voice and has a repertoire of original music; she gets more comfortable on stage every time I see her. I paid a lot of attention to the musicians and I could tell that not only were they enjoying themselves, their level of professionalism had taken a giant leap on this particular stage. I see great things in store for this Band, which includes; Blanca Sandoval (vocals/acoustic guitar), Robert Zamora (Electric Guitar), Oscar Tablada (Bass) and Mike Juarez (Drums). High-energy creativity is the name of the game for this four piece band.
Kool Katz came up next with their mixture of Salsa, Funk and R&B which got people on the dance floor, where most remained throughout the Katz performance. Kelly Galvan gave a funky performance on lead vocals and it was beginning to look like women were going to rule the stage this night. Their set list consisted of Originals, Latin Covers and Funk Covers from Con Funk Shun. Arthur Galvan (Vocals/Guitar), Brandon Renteria (Drums), Eddie Jimenez (Congas), Gilbert Galvan (Bass) and the rest of the band kept dancers on their feet. Special Guest Ron Moton from Con Funk Shun sat in for their songs “Got to be Enough” and “Fun”. I was impressed by their theatrical presence and showmanship throughout their entire performance, and look forward to seeing them at the Avalon on June 12th with the legendary Joe Bataan.
The Escovedo Family is in a class all their own, it was evident that the torch is being passed to some very capable offspring. Amazing professionalism!!!! Their sound filled every crevice in the room and the beat resonated through the floor captivating the crowd. It was announced that Pete would be celebrating his 75th birthday soon, but he was playing with the vigor of a twenty year old, his sticks became an extension of his arms, as if alive. Sheila played the drums so hard her sticks became a blur, losing and breaking a few in the process but picking up another in one easy motion. Peter Michael was mostly up front providing vocals (which mesmerized me), while playing bongos, but switched off with Sheila for a few songs and was a natural on the drums. Juan gave some of the best conga solos I’d ever seen live. The crowd went wild with their renditions of the Azteca Classics “Whatcha Gonna Do” and “Someday We’ll Get By”.
The Escovedo Family reminded me why I love Latin music so much. The entire band…keyboards, bass line, horns and of course the Escovedo Family, who played some of the most impressive percussion to be found, brought down the house with amazing accuracy and gave a whole new meaning to the word Orchestra!
For Latin Rock, Inc.
Bob Sandoval - Blanca and the Escovedo Family! (Apr 29, 2010)