Last night, during some clear and wonderful weather, Tia Chucha's Centro Cultural held its 3rd annual benefit at the world-famous Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood. With the production genius of Ruben Guevara, assisted by our long-time volunteer tech and bookkeeping person, Walter P. Little, the audience was treated to an amazing array of music, dance, comedy, and poetry. As always, we opened the event with a ceremony blessing offered by Tia Chucha's own resident Azteca Danza group, Temachtia Quetzacoatl. Then the funny and topical Herbert Siquenza of Cultural Clash--as our emcee--brought my wife Trini and I up to welcome the community and say a few words about arts, revival, and healing. I also read two poems. First of the acts was Kayamanan Ng Lahi, which combined various string instruments with folk dance from the Philippines. We thank Joel Jacinto of SIPA for making this a part of our benefit. The group emphasized the Spanish-Mexican influences on Filipino culture--Mexicans and Filipinos have those indigenous/Spanish historical ties. Next up was La Santa Cecilia, one of LA's most popular groups, combining Mexican/Latino traditional and contemporary sounds. The dance group involved an awe-inspiring Brazilian Samba as La Santa Cecilia played. And for the first time, the Jarocho-inspired (music from the Mexican Caribbean port state of Veracruz) ZocaloZue played in front of an audience (this also served as their CD release party) and had everyone on their feet. Cesar Castro, who was Tia Chucha's first Son Jarocho music teacher at Tia Chucha's, put together an amazing band with zapateado dance and also expanding the concepts of Son Jarocho to include Cuban, rock, and other elements. The evening was capped by the ever-popular Very Be Careful, one of the most exciting, funny, experimental, and energized Cumbia/Vallenato groups in the LA area, honoring Colombia, the birthplace of the Cumbia. Colombian folk dancers also took part near the end. By then we had people lined up on the aisles and in front of the stage dancing. This has happened every time we've had this benefit concert--people getting up and dancing under the stars. Fransini Giraldo was the director for the dancers that performed with La Santa Cecilia and Very Be Careful. I want to thank everyone who helped make this possible, Of course, the staff of Tia Chucha's who worked beyond the call of duty to help (in particular Arlene, Karina, and Stacy). Thanks to Trini, who, as always, helped make everything happen. Also Ruben and Walter for keeping the acts flowing, and working well with the Ford's tech staff. We also thank Target for placing us in their dance series and our other sponsors (Fusicology and KPFK). And Channel 36 TV for filming the show for future broadcast. In addition, we had many volunteers (thanks John Cantu for filming this again for Tia Chucha's) who helped way after everyone was gone to clean up and move boxes. And a special thanks to all the bands and dancers as well as Herbert Siguenza, who had people in stitches. Everyone came through so well and professional. Most of all I want to thank those who attended the benefit, some with children (this is a family oriented event). We had many of our old friends there, and met many new ones as well. The audiences have been large and strong for our benefits. We are so grateful for this ongoing community support. Please support the arts, especially in these hard times. The arts are essential. Tia Chucha's stands strong in helping bring full arts education, presentations, festivals, and delivery to all communities in the greater LA area. c/s
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