RCC student lead singer of Johnny and the Ravens

By Mary Valterria

Math and Science major Marlena Hernandez is the lead singer of an Inland Empire band

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Math and Science major Marlena Hernandez is the lead singer of Johnny and the Ravens a classic rock band established in 2013 and have performed in local bars like Lake Alice in downtown Riverside. (Stacy Soriano | Viewpoints )

The sun is about to go down, but the night is about to turn up.

The sounds of classic rock stream from an iPhone sitting on the dresser. Mascara and eyeshadow are strewn about as the curling iron is set to high. Most importantly, five shot glasses are lined up on the counter.

This is the setting that Riverside City College student Marlena “Marly” Hernandez finds herself in every weekend. Hernandez is the lead singer of Johnny and the Ravens, an Inland Empire based rock band.

The shots are not all for her. The other four shots are for her band mates. As a pre-gig ritual, the shots are taken right before Johnny and his Ravens leave the house before a performance.  

“The shot is sometimes the only drink I’ll have for 4-6 hours aside from water,” exclaimed Hernandez.

Johnny and the Ravens mainly perform classic rock songs but are also known to put their own twist on the music they play.

Hernandez said they have a mixed crowd of all ages.

“Everyone can appreciate good music,” said Hernandez. “That’s what we strive to provide.”

Johnny and the Ravens was created in 2013 by John Silva, known to his fans as “Johnny.”

Silva is both the drummer and father to band member Chad Silva, who goes by just “Chad.” Daughter-in-law Sarah Silva, whose stage name is “Red,” contributes on bass as well as dealing with bookings.

In recent years, the Ravens have grown and taken over more venues, including local bars such as Lake Alice in Riverside and Sportsman in Corona.

Although the tattoo of music notes on Hernandez’s forearm would lead you to believe that music is her whole life, she does engage in many other endeavors besides rocking out.

As a returning RCC student, Hernandez is a Math and Science major looking to pursue a career in the medical field. She also works full time in a business office during the week. Hernandez has a full schedule, but says that she still manages to give her all into everything she does.

“It’s hard to manage work, school and being in a band,” said Hernandez. “But somehow I make it work … I just really love singing.”

Hernandez has been singing almost all of her life and even affixes a red scarf to her microphone during special gigs to pay homage to her older brother Louie Joel Hernandez. The elder Hernandez hung scarves from his mic stand while performing with his own rock band before passing away in 1993.

Musical talent seems to run deep in the Hernandez family. So much so, that Hernandez’s sister recently joined the Ravens as a back-up singer. Lyana “Lily” Hernandez also plays the harmonica and is a former RCC student.

The Silvas and the two Hernandez sisters have gained a following of fans since they joined together last year.

“The performances are energetic and the music is really good and lively,” said fan Alicia Sandoval-Patin.

Sandoval-Patin keeps track of the Ravens schedule and attends most shows.

“There’s a harmony amongst the band that you can really feel,” said RCC student Melissa Lopez, who recently attended her first Ravens gig at Lake Alice. “I’ll definitely be back to see the Ravens again.”

Lopez wasn’t the only one who felt harmony in the presence of the Ravens.

John Silva, who has been playing the drums for 45 years, noted that the Ravens have expanded its audience with the addition of the Hernandez sisters.

“This band has just come up phenomenally,” said Silva. “There is nothing that can get in our way.”

“Johnny and the Ravens was created because we all love music; we knew it would work because we’re family,” added Silva.

“We function as a family and make decisions together,” said Hernandez, who has even coined the term “Bamily,” for her band mates turned family.

Johnny and the Ravens is making big strides and Hernandez said she couldn’t be happier.

“Johnny and the Ravens has grown so much and is playing more venues now than ever,” said Hernandez. “Sometimes we even have to turn down gigs.”

Hernandez added that venues, such as the Chuck Wagon in Corona, who typically do not book live performances, have given the Ravens exclusive access.

“I just love being a part of Johnny and the Ravens,” said Hernandez with a glimmer in her eye. “It’s my calling.”

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