‘Blasts Of The Pasts’ is a series of articles brought to you by the Inland Empire Musicians Hall of Fame (IEMHOF), a group that documents and recognizes the musical tapestry of the Inland Empire. The IEMHOF hopes to preserve the musical history of the IE by building an archive of recordings, photographs, and memorabilia that begins with the 1940’s, a collection which would be accessible by any musician and researcher.
A month prior to the Corona Virus shut down I had the opportunity to attend a few memorable musical events. If I had known what was to transpire, I would have attended many more.
The first was a Valentine’s Dance at the Knights of Columbus Hall in San Bernardino. Although not a member, I, along with my wife, Sylvia, have been going there for various functions for over forty years. It is a safe, clean venue and most often, they have featured groups playing Cumbias, Latin Rock, Soul, and even a few country & western songs for the line dancers. Tickets were reasonable and the drinks were also a bargain.
The band playing that night was more of an orchestra, and from their age and demeanor, we knew they were experienced. They were from the High Desert and knew what they were doing, playing crowd favorites, taking requests, and kibitzing as some bands do. The band featured a male and female singer, a trombone player, and an older trumpeter that sang lead on several songs. The group also had a bass, piano, drums, and a very young conga player. They had a very rich full sound that got everybody moving on the dance floor. My wife and I both enjoy doing the old dances but she is the better dancer, even managing to “floss” during a disco number that night. All in all it was a great evening, as we watched others move on the dance floor. I hope the musicians appreciated the applause and adoration of the crowd.
The following weekend, my wife and I ventured to Laughlin to see KISS. This was one of the first stops on their huge farewell tour. When I asked her if she wanted to go see them, she rolled her eyes and replied, “If you want to..,” and later “Are you sure you want to go?” I am not a KISS fan but know they are a unique act and have been significant in Rock and Roll history. We almost always go to shows even if the act is not a mutual favorite. Two years ago I rolled my eyes when she wanted to go see Lionel Richie in Vegas. I felt that Lionel was a little bit soft for my hard rock preference. Wrong. I had forgotten how many hits he had and how influential he was in writing and producing.
Because of the venue, I figured the KISS show might be their “light” version without all the bells and whistles. It was not by any means. I am sure they were using an outdoor arena in the middle of the desert to test their equipment, pyrotechnics, and other theatrical gimmicks. The show was great and not headache-loud, an old person dilemma. Aside from a stray rocket or two, it was wonderful.
Like I said, my wife and I are not big KISS fans but one of the joys of going to concerts is seeing avid fans with the T-shirts, and even make-up. Some grandparents even had the next generation of KISS fans made up. As usual, we are glad we went.
The final act we saw was a lounge show. Often the beginning and ending of musical careers, they provide respite from the beatings taken at the slots or tables. I remember the band played Latin music and consisted of a very beautiful long haired singer, a bass, lead guitar, and the leader playing piano with a lot of canned horns.
Unfortunately, the singer was often off key but was doing her best. The piano player was also marginal but pulled the act out of the dumps with great song selection.
As we emerge out of this pandemic, the IEMHOF hopes to host a concert at the Garcia Center for the Arts as soon as safely possible. It will be a fundraiser to help the IEMHOF on its mission of bringing recognition to Inland Empire Musicians who have entertained us all, in the past and into the future.
Andy Hernandez and Sylvia were born and raised in the Inland Empire. They are both retired from local education systems. Andy serves on the Boards of the SBVCA and IEMHOF. If you can’t find them, you might look on the dance floor.