¡Viva Mexico!

Ranchero Nights brings out the dancing shoes and cowboy boots

<i>BANDA LARGA</i><br>Members of Banda La Patrona perform at Ranchero Nights. The 12-piece is made up of local musicians and has been together two years.

Members of Banda La Patrona perform at Ranchero Nights. The 12-piece is made up of local musicians and has been together two years.

Photo By Mark Lore

Ranchero Nights featuring Banda La Patrona and Ilusión Norteña, Fri., June 6, at Lost On Main

It’s not the norm to see bands in Chico pay such close attention to detail. Then again, this wasn’t your average local show.

The members of Banda La Patrona hit the stage of Lost On Main immaculately dressed from their silk shirts down to matching belts and cowboy boots. Haven’t heard of them? It was the first big show the local banda has played in Chico, as the 12-piece ventured into downtown for Ranchero Nights, which also was the first event of its kind at the venue. It was also the most fun I’ve had at a local show in a long time.

Booking a night of traditional Mexican music was quite a gamble for Lost On Main general manager Sue Reed, who started planning Ranchero Nights about a year ago. It’s one thing to recognize the area’s large Latino community; it takes some huevos to make it a huge event on a Friday night in downtown Chico. But Ranchero Nights, which also included a performance by Ilusión Norteña, was arguably the best-attended show last Friday, a night that included The Secret Stolen’s CD-release party, a performance by the immensely popular Ride The Blinds and Devil Makes Three’s packed show at the Chico Women’s Club.

It was the openers who stole the show. The sheer size of Banda La Patrona made the music exhilarating and powerful. The group didn’t lack on showmanship either. The horns sliced through the air, and when there was break, the two trombonists and three trumpeters danced in unison.

Where have these guys been? Performing mostly at parties and the occasional quinceañera, said trumpeter Gilbert Rojas. The members come from all over the area—Hamilton City, Orland, Corning—and have been practicing at local sports bar El Bohemio for about two years.

The members of Ilusión Norteña were also snazzily dressed in matching red shirts and tan cowboy hats. The Patterson, Calif., quintet performed ranchera music, a traditional Mexican style that dates back to the ‘30s, and incorporates elements of mariachi, polka and country. It’s music for dancing, and the floor never let up through the group’s performance. Ilusión Norteña had energy and swagger, led by the fiery playing of Andy Meza on accordion, and reeled off song after song including ones from its latest Ilusiónate.

By the looks of it, Ranchero Nights was exactly what the large, mostly Latino audience had been waiting for. I must admit that it was a bit jarring when Rojas said after the show that he hoped there would be more people at Banda La Patrona’s next performance. Even as packed as Lost On Main was, there’s a good chance he’ll get what he asked for.