News Column

Concierto de las Americas Brings Back Old-time Rock 'n' Roll

July 12, 2013

YellowBrix

Trumpeter Tony Serrano compares making music to mixing a big salad.

Everyone contributes something.

Serrano is the musical director and organizer of "Let The Good Times Roll Part 3," an El Paso all-star tribute to the golden era of rock 'n' roll.

"It's a big musical family. I love all the guys and girls," Serrano said. "Throughout the years, I've played with all of them. I enjoy their friendship, their company and their music."

Serrano has assembled various musicians and singers past and present -- some of them a composite of classic El Paso rock bands -- for a three-hour concert Thursday at the Chamizal National Memorial Theater, 800 S. San Marcial.

"We do this for the good memories and the love of music," he said.

The third annual Concierto de Las Americas benefits El Paso Community College's Senior Adult Program and honors various musicians.

This year's event will pay tribute to more than a dozen musicians and singers for their contributions to El Paso music history, including the late Marta "Marty" Sifuentes and the late Esequiel "Zeke" Chacon, both of whom were members of the El Paso Drifters.

The story goes that Danny Padilla, the band's founder, discovered Sifuentes while practicing in a garage behind his parents' house. He heard Sifuentes singing at a neighbor's house across the street and immediately invited her to sing with the band.

Sifuentes later sang at Bowie High School tea dances, homecoming

dances and venues across El Paso and elsewhere in Texas. Band leader Ray Camacho once invited her to tour with him.

Sifuentes died in 1979. Padilla has often said she had the talent to become a singing sensation on a larger scale.

A niece once said Sifuentes' singing "comforted broken hearts and made happy hearts dance."

Dora Reyes, a music educator and former Azucar singer, also is among the honorees this year. She has been singing in El Paso for the past 25 years.

"It's a great honor, a wonderful feeling to be recognized in that way. It has been a privilege for me to entertain the people of El Paso," Reyes said. "There's a lot of wonderful talent in this city. I see these guys performing and they still have the passion."

George Reynoso, the owner of El Paso independent music store All that Music & Video, said El Paso Community College is helping keep alive the camaraderie of El Pasoans who played music in the 1960s and earlier.

"It's part of our heritage. We don't want to let go of our oldies. The music we grew up with kind of sticks with us and represents our connection to the past," Reynoso said. "For the guys that do this, it's more about the camaraderie and rebuilding the past, which is basically what I do -- selling the old sound."

Mary Yanez, the director of EPCC's Senior Adult Program, started the concert series to help support programs for senior citizens and pay tribute to those who have contributed to music in El Paso.

"All these musicians are volunteers," Yanez said. "I don't think any town had a hold on rock 'n' roll like these teenagers of my era."

Ramon Renteria may be reached at rrenteria@elpasotimes.com; 546-6146. Follow him on Twitter @RamonRrenteria.

make plans

-- What: Concierto de las Americas' "Let The Good Times Roll Part 3."

-- When: 6-9 p.m. Thursday.

-- Where: Chamizal National Memorial, 800 S. San Marcial.

-- How much: $8.

-- Information: 831-7801.

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(c)2013 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas)

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