El Chicano Recaptures the Magic at the Greek


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DYNAMIC DUO: War's Mitch Kashmar and Fernando Harkless perform at the Greek as part of Latin Legends Live. Seminal 1970s band that was on the cutting edge of the Eastside sound is led by Bobby Espinosa.

On Sunday at the Greek Theatre, a reunited El Chicano showed that the band is worthy of renewed attention as one of the most accomplished exponents of the Eastside sound. Led by the white-haired Bobby Espinosa — who was perched behind his beloved Hammond B-3 organ, draped for the occasion in a colorful Mexican serape — El Chicano performed on the second of a two-night concert series called Latin Legends Live!, now in its seventh year at the Greek.

The weekend lineup included other warhorses of the Chicano nostalgia circuit, including headliners War and Tierra, along with Thee Midniters and Malo with Jorge Santana.

Tierra's lively party set featured brothers Rudy and Steve Salas, who once played with El Chicano and who had their own big reunion at the Conga Room in 2002. The band's outstanding current vocalist, Billy Mondragon, could have won the night's “Chicano Idol" competition for his soulfulness, power and pure falsettos.

Sunday's afternoon gloom might have slightly dampened the turnout. But the audience of mostly middle-aged Mexican Americans, many with the trademark goatees and tattoos of veteranos, filled the amphitheater with celebratory enthusiasm for the old-school music that served as a soundtrack for their youth.

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