Article & Photos by Joe Contreras, Latin Life Denver Media. See photo gallery below (Bios taken from event program)
It was an evening of pride and joy as a full house of family, friends and well wishers came out to congratulate the 2018 Chicano Music Hall of Fame Inductees. The Hall of Fame Awards were just part of week long celebration of Chicano music featuring everything from film to mariachis to an outdoor music “panchana” (festival) as well numerous auctions, food and drink. The 22nd edition of the Chicano Music Festival took place July 25-29 at the Su Teatro Cultural & Performing Arts Center in Denver. Latin Life Denver was honored to serve as a Media Sponsor.
It’s not easy to get into any hall of fame, including the Chicano Music Hall of Fame. There are nominations to consider, committee screening and elections then final approval. This year’s inductees were just as significant in their contributions the establishment and growth of Chicano music as those who preceded them. “The first years of the Chicano Music Hall of Fame were to recognize and honor the pioneers of Chicano music,” said Tony Garcia, Artistic Director for the Su Teatro Performance and Arts Centers in Denver. Garcia, who had nothing to do with the selection process said he was pleased with this years crop of inductees. “It was a very diverse and eclectic group and I was a bit surprised by that.” he said.
This years Chicano Music Hall of Fame Inductees are:
Alfonso was born in Morley Colorado on March 28, 1927. When Al was a young boy his father obtained a small accordion in exchange for a load of wood. The accordion was for his older sister, Mary. However, Mary was not really interested in the instrument so Al started “fooling around” with it and taught himself to play. When the family moved to Denver, Al continued playing. At the age of 18, Al enlisted in the Army. While in the service in Germany, he was able to check out a loaner instrument, an accordion.
Once they heard him play, he could be found playing for the troops when ever they had time off. Once home from the service he began playing at Frank’s Place on Larimer Street several nights a week. Eventually Al formed his own band and they played all kinds of gigs around town. Once the band broke up in the 1960’s, Al continued to play on his own. Through the years Al has continued to play at any type of party or fundraiser you can think of. He played at both daughters’ and several grandchildren’s weddings and family celebrations. For the last 6 years Al has been playing short gigs at the Nursing Home in Lafayette Colorado where his older Brother Pete resided and recently passed. Al recorded his own music CD in 2016. He has a small accordion that he takes when they travel. You might say his music has taken him on tour most of his life!
La Raza Rocks was the brainchild of Mr. Darold Vigil, known as Pocho Joe to his radio listeners. Darold (Pocho Joe) wanted to share the buried treasures of Chicano and Latino rock-based music with KUVO listeners and highlight the pioneering sounds of the 1940s up to today’s newest hits.
His vast musical library and understanding of the genre helped propel La Raza Rocks to one of KUVO’s flagship Sunday programs. The unique quality of the Chicano/Latino based music that is heard on La Raza Rocks has built a love for this music and has instilled cultural pride and historical knowledge regarding the often times unknown Chicano/Latino musicians in our midst. Steve Chavis, KUVO’s Program Director, notes that “Pocho Joe is a national treasure whose research proves that the Chicano influence on the American art form called ‘rock and roll’ is significant, yet under-appreciated.” Darold aka Pocho Joe is a champion of this musical genre and part of Colorado’s musical history.
In 2002, Pamela Liñan was the music teacher at Bryant-Webster Elementary School. It was during one of those classes that Pamela decided that now was the time to take her life-long commitment to mariachi music to new heights. That year she organized and began El Mariachi Juevenil de Bryant Webster, one of the shining stars of Denver’s public school system.
As noted by Flo Hernandez Ramos in her nomination, “Pamela has supported, performed, loved and lived mariachi over 50 years, as part of family tradition, musician, 31 years as an educator and 16 years as the director of El Mariachi Juvenil de Bryant-Webster.” She hasn’t stopped there…Pamela is directing Denver’s first all-female mariachi, Mariachi Femenil Alma de Folklore, set to make its debut July 21st at the 5th Annual Mariachi Women’s Festival in California.
Larry Lobato Sr.
Larry Lobato Sr. was born on July 14,1949 in Alamosa, Colorado. He came to Denver with his family in 1950. He grew up in Commerce City, Colorado and started playing music at the age of 10. He started by playing the alto and tenor saxophone. His father sent him to school to learn to read music but his favorite was playing music by ear the way his father and uncles learned to play. He learned how to play Chicano Music from his father Reynaldo C. Lobato who is also a musician who played tenor sax and trumpet.
Larry started his first band in 1966 where they played mostly rock and roll with some Chicano tunes mixed in. He started his first Chicano band in 1974 which was called Los Reyes Band. They played for many years at the Los Comadres in Commerce City.
He went on to form his own band in 1996 which he named Larry Lobato & Latin Touch. He went on playing many years with different local Colorado musicians in venues across the state. His best times were when he was playing with Latin Touch until his retirement in 2012.
Larry played at the 9th annual Chicano Music Festival, which was his final concert with Latin Touch. He would like to thank all of his family, friends and fans who supported him throughout all the years. The legacy continues with his son, Larry Lobato Jr. and his band Chicano Heat.
Photos by Joe Contreras Latin Life Denver Media