Early last year, Tia Chucha’s Café
, a café and independent bookstore run by author Luis J.Rodriguez
and his wife Trini, was force to shut its doors in the city of Sylmar because their landlords tripled their rent. That summer a fundraiser was held at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood to help pay for a new center to open in the San Fernando Valley. This year, another fund raiser was held on Sunday to help with the cost of buying a building.
Tia Chucha’s isn’t just a bookstore or a café, but a cultural arts center for the people of the San Fernando Valley. According to their website, they hope to “promote the continued growth, development and holistic learning of our community through the many powerful means of the arts. The Centro provides a positive space for people to activate what we all share as human beings: the capacity to create, to imagine and to express ourselves in an effort to improve the quality of life for our community.“
The benefit was held once again at The John Anson Ford Amphitheatre. On the bill was a diverse yet unified group of artists, including community activist Nobuko Miyamoto,
comedian Ernie G
, and the drop-dead funny political satire of Opening People's Minds. The mostly Asian sketch comedy group had me in tears with their dead on interpretations of immigration and differences in culture. If you have a chance to check out their work please do; they were worth the price of admission alone.
They were followed by the legendary Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band,
who played all the hits, including "Express Yourself,"
and "Tell Me What You Want Me To Do."
I stood in awe backstage watching the band go from hit to hit without as much as a break!
I was there that day to back up my friend Olmeca
on the bass. We went on after Charles Wright and Olmeca’s energy was so abundant he got the whole audience to rush the stage. I have to admit, I had trouble keeping up. It’s been a while since I played a show with this much energy.