Valley Rhythms by Lola Rossi-Meza

After finishing my performance at a private party with my husband, pianist and vocalist Johnny Meza, on Valentine’s Day last Thursday, I was headed home but decided to stop by the Agua Caliente Casino to play poker. He went to his late night gig at The Desert Sage in La Quinta, where he performs from 10:30 p.m. until 1:30 a.m. This photo was taken by our friends Rosa and Philip Stevens as we celebrated our 14th Wedding Anniversary on Saturday, October 27, 2012 at Lavender Bistro, where Johnny performs every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 6 until 10 p.m. They will be celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary in June. After arriving at the casino, I was walking toward the Poker Room as I heard music coming from the Lounge and had to peek in. The room was filled with dancers enjoying the Latin music performed by Nash and Quinto Menguante. The music was hypnotic with smiling faces everywhere.
I worked my way to the stage and watched an incredible performance. The band members include: guitarist, vocalist, composer and band leader Nash; female vocalist Melina Bojorquez; Leo Perez on drums; Ricky Soto on bass and electric guitar; Rafa Ceja on keyboard, accordion, vocals and congas; Anthony Hernandez on saxophone, vocals, bongos and congas; and Rafa Soto on keyboards, vocals, guitars and trumpet. I was amazed to see the musicians switch instruments as they went from song to song. Melina dances the entire time changing dance steps as easily as the drummer changed the tempos for the various Latin dances.
The dancers love the Cumbias and they too, go on and off the dance floor as the songs flow from one to another. I couldn’t understand one word until Melina sang a song called “Addicted” by Shakira. Being a musician, I noticed the drummer handing the bass player one of the drum sticks. While the dancers were dancing, the rest of the band continued to perform, as Leo fixed a problem with his bass pedal. It only took a minute or two, but with one drum stick, Ricky kept the beat going along with the percussionist. The dancers never missed a beat, I don’t even think anyone noticed. Now that is a professional band.
When the band went on break, DJ Jerry took over and played a variety of music. I watched the dancers pull out to form a circle on the dance floor. Then one by one, the break dancers took center stage on the dance floor with everyone cheering them on. The last dancer couldn’t be topped especially after he ended his dance segment with a full center split. I almost couldn’t believe my eyes. His name was Samy Cruz. Stationed in Virginia, he is at the 29 Palms Marine Base for a three month training session, and was one of a group of Marines relaxing that evening. I watched him dance with several of the ladies twirling them around the dance floor and ending each dance with a dip and a split. I felt like I was watching a movie. What a great night of music and dancing.
Nash and Quinto Menguante perform every Thursday from 9 p.m. until 1 a.m. at the Agua Caliente Casino in Rancho Mirage and every Sunday from 9 p.m. until 1 a.m. at The Spa Resort Casino in Palm Springs.

A Reminder…
Smooth jazz saxophonist, composer and producer Jeanette Harris continues as the second top notch musician featured in the new music concert series JAZZ TASTINGS™ produced by Patte Purcell of Muze Music on Saturday, February 23, from 6 until 9 p.m. at the Emerald Desert RV Resort Ballroom, 76-000 Frank Sinatra Drive in Palm Desert. For tickets call (877) 624-4140 ext. 2. $25 general admission and byob or $40 for Mediterranean food tasting plate and three Crater Lake gin or vodka cocktails.

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