Free WAR at Speaking Rock!
Ever since I was young, I heard the music of WAR being played at family gatherings. So when I heard they were coming to town, I was ecstatic. As the nights of celebrations continued through the years, I noticed my family having a strong connection to the songs of their time. As the songs played, my aunts and uncles reminisced about their experiences during the Civil Rights Movement, in particular, La Raza Unida. La Raza Unida was the largest Hispanic national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States. My family stood for Chicano rights and were deeply tied to La Raza Unida. The fact that just listening to WAR brought back their feelings of nostalgia and melancholy lead me to view the musicians of WAR as heroes to the Chicano movement.
It wasn’t until later that I discovered the members of WAR were not Chicanos at all but were black and white males. I was confused that my family would be so passionate about a group that had no Chicanos in it after all their stories about racial discrimination. It wasn’t until later that I realized that WAR was a band that transcended racial and cultural barriers. For that I have respected WAR as a very special band. It occurred to me that I had not placed the importance of this band into its proper cultural context.
I never thought twice about whether I should attend WAR’s performance at the Speaking Rock Entertainment Center. This was a band I absolutely had to see and experience live in the flesh for myself. Speaking about flesh, only two of the original members were present for the performance. The rest of their line-up consisted of talented fill-ins; i.e. non-holographic late members. By this, I’m referring to the “Tupac” hologram at Coachella. It was such a pleasure watching a band that has been around for decades long before I was born. With the up and coming holographic technology, it is now possible that we will begin to see bands whose members are deceased and no longer with us. This possibility only encourages me to fully enjoy live musical performances, such as that of WAR, by actual humans.
WAR did not disappoint. Lonnie Jordan, original keyboard/vocals, took the front stage and carried out the songs we all know and love from “Spill the Wine” to “The Cisco Kid”. Lee Oskar, original harmonica player, worked the crowd wearing a beret with a peace-sign and military dog tags. I later met him backstage with some friends to exchange conversation. I loved that I was able to observe and appreciate this band in the comfort of my own town of El Paso; such a multi-cultural diverse and unique city. I had a blast at the concert. Just being a part of the audience and the exchange of energy between us, the performers, and workers, was an extraordinary atmosphere that circulated good feeling, unity, and friendship. Cheers!!!