at the Marin County Civic Center
March 29, 2007
by Mark Guerrero
March 29, 2007, I did a lecture/concert and a screening of
"Lalo Guerrero: The Original Chicano" at the Marin
County Civic Center in San Rafael, California. It was
in a building that was awesome in size and design. No
wonder, the legendary Frank Lloyd Wright was the architect.
The event was part of the Cesar Chavez Day festivities.
I was invited by the Assistant Public Defender in Marin County,
Jose Varela. Jose happens to be the brother of well-known
Bay Area Latin jazz radio host, Chuy Varela. The
idea was for me to screen the documentary, do a question and
answer session, and sing some songs solo with acoustic guitar.
The event was sponsored by the Board of Supervisors and OLE
(Organization of Latino Employees). I
was flown up to the Oakland Airport and put up in a wonderful,
historic hotel called the Claremont Resort & Spa in Berkeley.
What made the trip a little difficult was that I had performed
at the Cesar Chavez Awards Dinner in Los Angeles the night
before. I had to stay in a hotel near the Ontario Airport
in Southern California to be able to catch an 8 a.m. flight
to Oakland. By the time I got to the hotel and was able
to fall asleep, I only slept about 2 or 3 hours. I had
to wake up early enough to get ready and get to the airport
an hour and a half before the flight. Upon arrival in
Oakland, I was met by one of the other Marin County lawyers,
whom I followed in my rental car up to the venue in San Rafael.
It was about a 45 minute drive. The event started at
noon and I got there about 11 a.m. I was not exactly
feeling fresh. However, we screened the documentary
on time for about 80 people in the Board of Supervisors Chambers.
About half of the audience was made up of at-risk 8th graders.
The remainder were county employees. The organizers
were worried that the 8th graders would not pay attention
and might misbehave. As it turned out, they were great
and paid attention to the film and the whole three hour presentation.
After the screening, I answered questions from the audience
about my dad and the film. I also performed several
songs as we went along. I sang my song "The Ballad
of Lalo Guerrero," which had been used in the documentary
over the ending credits. I also sang my dad's "Los
Chucos Suaves" and his parody, "Tacos for Two."
On "Los Chucos Suaves," I was accompanied by pc
Muñoz on the cajon (a percussion instrument, which is a wooden
box with a snare inside). The player sits on it and
hits it with his hands like a conga drum. It worked
really well on "Los Chucos Suaves" and we had a
good time playing together for the first time. pc is
a friend and a Bay Area songwriter and recording artist whose
music I like. I had invited pc to come to the event
and I'm pleased that he did so. Another friend I invited
who attended was Alfredo Arteaga, who's a professor of Chicano
Studies at U.C. Berkeley. I had spoken at one of his
Chicano music classes at Berkeley in 2005. I also screened
a video of my performance with my dad in Paris, France in
1998. Since we were at the end of our allotted time,
I just showed the finale of the concert. Everyone seemed
to enjoy the presentation and Jose and I heard nothing but
good comments about it afterwards. Later, Jose, Alfredo,
pc, and I went to a Chinese restaurant in the neighborhood
and had some good food and even better conversation.
The next day I flew out of Oakland and arrived in Ontario
at 2 o'clock in the afternoon. As I got off the plane,
by chance I immediately ran into Los Lobos who were waiting
to board a plane to Tampa, Florida for a show. They
were all there and we talked for a good 15 minutes.
I hadn't seen them in about 10 years! It put a nice
cap on a hectic, but fulfilling and enjoyable 48 hours, starting
with the Cesar Chavez Awards Dinner in Los Angeles.