January 11, 2012

El Camino Cha Cha Orchestra...... ........(San Francisco January 11, 1997)

Not long after my girlfriend and I got engaged (which wasn't too long after we met), we went out to a show on at 16th and Valencia in what used to be a firehouse. I forget what the place was called at that point, since it changed hands a few times, but it had a really high ceiling and I'm pretty sure I saw the Del Rubio Triplets in the same space a few years earlier.

When the 11 pieces of El Camino struck up with obscure classic 50s mambo, we elbowed each other and said "That's it!" and started dancing. After the show we hauled the trumpet player off the stage....Yes, they would play our wedding! That was that. I don't think we even had a date set yet, to say nothing of a venue, caterer, cake, or flower arrangements. I hadn't even asked my brother to be best man yet. But we had the band.

All the other details eventually fell into place. Friends and family joined us from Pennsylvania, Florida, Mexico, and points between. Of course, Rustle Noonetwisting was there with his grabadora (seemingly recording every significant event in my life). The band struck up this time in the neoclassical Green Room in the San Francisco Civic Center with our first song, learned just for us: Agustin Lara's Solamente una vez. Then we cha cha'd until they told us we were out of time on the room, and the bride and groom were supposed to leave first anyway.

El Camino Cha Cha Orchestra (18:00)

That was fifteen years ago y todavía tenemos el mambo.


  1. The long-lost cassette recordings from your Bar Mitzvah are on the way...

  2. I saw these guys play at Bruno's back in the day and was acquaintances with one of their trumpet players. Miss those days... Thanks for this memory.

  3. I was just thinking of these guys. What a great story!

  4. Oh my gosh! Seeing and listening to them at Bruno’s is one of my favorite memories! They were incredible in that packed little place.

  5. Great band. I had just moved to SF from NY. I had a terrible job in an architecture office which paid like no money. I knew no one yet but was loving my new city. I used to roll down to Bruno’s on Tuesday night on my motorcycle to see these guys. Great memories.