Wednesday, Nov 14 2012 04:10 PM

MATT MUNOZ: Latin kings still lay down groove

By The Bakersfield Californian

Arcelio Garcia wants to assure fans that the original bad boys of Latin rock are as malo -- bad -- as ever when he takes the stage at La Movida Nightclub on Friday.

As lead singer of Malo, the legendary band responsible for such hits as "Nena," "Pana" and the immortal "Suavecito," among others, Garcia and his crew continue to tour, still waving the flag of a movement started on the San Francisco streets in the Mission District during the '60s. And while it might be an entirely new band, Garcia says the same Malo intensity is guaranteed to bring back memories of a golden era and the blistering live shows the group became popular for.

"We don't try and warm up," said Garcia during a phone interview from his home in Fresno. "We start hot and finish on fire, man. You can't mess with us."

Formed in 1968 by Garcia, Malo started out as an R&B act called The Malibus. Looking for a new sound apart from the free-wheeling hippie themes of the day, Garcia began to incorporate elements of Latin percussion into the soul-based rock sound, with an assist from guitarist Jorge Santana, brother of guitarist Carlos Santana. To avoid sound comparisons, Garcia added a horn section that gave them a jazzy New York salsa edge.

"Everyone was trying something new back then, and we were right in the middle of it all. We were young and getting a lot of attention from the big guys like promoter Bill Graham, who was a fan of ours."

After signing with Warner Bros. in the '70s, the group released four seminal albums, regarded as part of the foundation of Latin rock, alongside Santana's debut album and El Chicano's "Viva Tirado."

"Looking back now, Warner Bros. didn't know what to do with Malo. They marketed us as just a Latin band, and sent us to South America, and we became a big hit out there in places like El Salvador, Nicaragua. Right now, Malo is getting a lot of attention in Japan. You just never know how things are going to happen."

Malo stays busy primarily on the oldies circuit today, but on occasion will find themselves booked at large venues such as The Greek and the Gibson Amphitheater in Los Angeles with friends from their '70s heyday. The band usually plays a set list of biggest hits, but Garcia said younger audiences are beginning to request deeper cuts he thought were forgotten.

"We get a lot of old-school fans, but a lot of shows now, it's nothing but kids who don't just want to hear 'Suavecito.' They've heard that from their parents for years. We haven't played 'It's a Lovely Day' and 'Lady I Love' for a long time, maybe about 15 years. Now people can request more songs and not just hear the same ones."

But longtime fans eager to hear their favorites need not worry.

"A lot of fans have named their kids after my song 'Nena.' That's cool, as long as someone don't come up to me saying, 'Remember me?' with a baby in their arms."

Also appearing are East Los Angeles music legends Tierra, who scored big in the '80s with their hit love song, "Together."

Friday's showtime is 7 p.m. Tickets are $30 to $70. Also appearing are Thee Richard Deval Project and DeeJay Psycho Razzi. La Movida is located at 212 East 18th St. For more information, call 706-1188 or visit Vallitix.com.

Blowfly at Narducci's

Fans of throwback cult comedy should make plans to groove on over and catch '70s comedy singer Clarence "Blowfly" Reid at Narducci's Cafe on Friday.

Starting out as a popular songwriter, penning R&B hits for artists such as Betty Wright ("Clean Up Woman") Sam and Dave, and KC & The Sunshine Band, among others in the '60s and '70s, Reid was among an elite group of soul songwriters of the time.

Blessed with a pair of silky pipes, he also recorded a number of his own singles before trading his coat and tie in for a glittery hooded cape, re-emerging as low-rent superhero "Blowfly," a name given to him by his grandmother.

After selling off most of his publishing rights to the radio hits he made famous, Reid was intent on finding success as his comedy alter-ego, recording a series of albums mostly of sex-based parodies of other popular songs. They are crude, rude and mentioned in the same breath as those from urban comedy peers like Rudy Ray "Dolemite" Moore," Redd Foxx and Richard Pryor, and sampled heavily by rap acts such as 2 Live Crew.

Today the feisty 73-year-old celebrates decades in the business with more than 26 releases under his cape, a new tour and a hit documentary on his life titled, "The Weird World of Blowfly."

"It ain't called the 'Weird World' for no reason! Nasty music is universal, and I make the best there is," said Reid in a recent email interview, most of which can't be used due to its colorful Blowfly-centric foul language.

For an example of Blowfly's music, do a Google search for his infamous spoof of "What a Difference a Day Makes," titled "What a Difference a Lay Makes," a spoof that landed Reid in court when composer Stanley Adams objected. Although the case was settled, Reid says Adams needs a sense of humor.

"He was also the president of ASCAP at the time, and how dare he make me more famous."

Reid's new comedy album is titled "Black in the Sack" and will be available for purchase at Friday's show. In addition, Reid can be seen in indie director Otto Von Schirach's upcoming sci-fi film, "Supermeng" as his Blowfly character.

"You know it's gonna be messed up."

Friday's showtime is 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $10. Also appearing is Potty Mouth and DJ Renato.

Narducci's Cafe is located at 621 E. 21st St. For more information, call 324-2961 or visit blowflyofficial.com.

Sasha Mallory

It's been awhile since we've heard from Bakersfield dancer Sasha Mallory after her appearance on the Fox talent competition, "So You Think You Can Dance," last year. Mallory can currently be seen as a backup dancer on pop singer Madonna's MDNA tour.

Matt's picks

Tribute to Steely Dan at Sandrini's, 1918 Eye St., Saturday, $5, 9 p.m. 322-8900

This show marks the debut of a longtime project by local troubadour Chris Carton, who's assembled 14 local musicians with one goal: deconstruct the music of songwriters Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, known as Steely Dan. While it's unclear exactly how much material the group will cover, it has been confirmed the group will present Steely Dan's 1977 classic "Aja" in its entirety, along with a wealth of other material. If only Sandrini's served grapefruit wine. Highly recommended.

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