Friday, September 7, 2012

Los Lobos DVD hits home

I arrived home today from another great Microsoft BI User Group meeting in downtown San Francisco, and just when I thought the day couldn't get any better, my wife tells me that "the DVD" came in the mail. Too excited to speak, I quickly opened the package to find Los Lobos Kiko Live DVD in all its brilliance. A great album, great music, and a great performance by some of the best musicians I have ever known. It is an honor and a privilege to have played a couple of songs on this DVD with Los Lobos and my band Los Cenzontles to whom the director, Eugene Rodriguez, I have to give a major shout-out for such an amazing opportunity.

Adrenaline pumping, I opened the DVD to find another surprise on the inside cover. A picture of me with the Lobos playing Louie Perez's Saints Behind the Glass. Daaaaaanng! Words cannot begin to describe the excitement and appreciation I feel right now. I'm running around my house like a little kid, but I gotta be careful not to wake up the kids. They have school in the morning. ;)

The DVD was very well done. Interviews with the Lobos are interwoven between songs explaining how the group collaborated on the original album, its influences, and the group's history. They are such amazing artists that its difficult watching this DVD because like they seem like "just one of the guys", but they have such extraordinary talent. I can also identify with Los Lobos on a personal level based on their upbringing in hard neighborhoods such as East LA; not letting their negative surroundings get the best of them by concentrating on being productive and generating positive energy through their music.

I have been playing harp since I was 13 years old with my band Los Cenzontles. The director, Eugene Rodriguez, started the band in 1989 in the tough neighborhood of Richmond, California. Like Los Lobos, Eugene wanted to get back to the roots of Mexican music when the band was just beginning. So in 1991, Eugene and some very loving parents took a group of youngsters (me included) on a trip through Mexico to the state of Veracruz on the Gulf coast to learn the art of the Fandango and "Son Jarocho" (Jarocho music). Since then, Los Cenzontles has gone on several trips to Veracruz, each time with new students learning new instruments, new songs, dance moves, and singing techniques. It was on a couple of these trips during my teens where I learned harp and gained a deeper appreciation for the arts, my culture and my family.

So in December 2005, Eugene was asked if he knew of any harp players that may be interested in playing a couple songs for their Kiko show at the Fillmore in San Francisco. Uh, yeah! I know of one! ME! So we played both of the shows one weekend and it was amazing. We did a couple more in February 2006 at the Ventura Theatre and at the House of Blues in San Diego. House of Blues is where the footage for this DVD was recorded. All I can say about these shows were they were a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I now understand why Los Lobos tour schedule is so packed. They are awesome musicians and some of the most down to earth guys I have ever met!

Today, Los Cenzontles has a beautiful Music Center that continues to be a gem in San Pablo serving underprivileged youth in neighboring communities. They give kids a voice and an opportunity to be heard; respected for their hard work and practice. Students are constantly recognized for their talent through recordings, performances, art projects, and community outreach. Places like these are rare, and its up to each of us to help non-profits like these to keep the doors open. So I encourage you, if you can, to contribute some amount to their wonderful cause.

If you'd like to purchase a copy of the Kiko Live video on DVD or BluRay, you can do so in any online store, including Amazon, Walmart, and BestBuy.

Hope you all enjoy it as much as I did!

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